.hack//Link is being touted as the final entry in the .hack// series. As the name “Link” suggests, it takes the two major threads of the series (the four “IMOQ” series starring Kite and the GU series starring Haseo) and brings the two protagonists together for the first time. This PSP Action RPG takes that “blending” action to the soundtrack level; much of Chikayo Fukuda’s soundtrack is a blend of sounds and styles from previous games, and there are plenty of pieces taken from music written for previous games and anime (especially among the vocal tracks).
Speaking of vocal tracks, the .hack//Link soundtrack is dominated by vocal tracks. You might listen through our audio samples and think we locked in on the vocal tracks for sampling. That is untrue. About 50% of the tracks have some sort of vocal performance. Among that grouping, I’d say 60% of the 50% (or 30% of the total OST) is lyrical vocal performance.
These vocals are a little overwhelming at times, but there’s a strong sense of beauty and aesthetic to the non-pop vocals, the ones where the performance is more soprano operatic. You know, the sunlight and the cathedral and the girl standing there and something ridiculous is bound to happen. That’s what defines .hack for me. The poppy performances, including the anime theme songs (such as “Silly-Go-Round”) are enjoyable in their own right, but they don’t fit my previously “fixed” mold of the .hack soundscape. Again, I’m very much a fan of the games over the anime, so I don’t know a lot of Yuki Kajiura’s work on the anime. That said, I’m a Kajiura fan in many other instances (including Xenosaga), so it’s not like it’s bad. It just didn’t fit my expectations.
There’s nothing on the OST, instrumentally, that compares to some of the best town and battle themes from the previous games. But a few come close. Disc 1 track 3 and disc 2 track 10, respectively, are some of my favorite instrumental pieces on the OST. They are strong, and they make great use of that weird artificial harp sound that .hack games are famous for.
And of course, Piroshi-san wraps up the otherwise serious set of music. Disc 2 ends with Piroshi’s theme, and then there are two bonus tracks with even more “justice prevails” music and a quick interview with Hiroshi Matsuyama (.hack project lead, president of CyberConnect2, and voice actor for Piroshi-san in Japan). For fans, it’s definitely a treat.
Though perhaps my least favorite of all the .hack OSTs, at this point I’m committed. I’m committed to the music, to the series, and I would still argue that the overall quality of the soundtrack rivals that of most PSP RPG soundtracks out there. Do consider a purchase, but if you don’t have the two G.U. soundtracks yet, get those first. Those are out-and-out the pinnacle of Fukuda’s work on the series.