Composed by Jack Wall, the Jade Empire OST is a collection of Chinese-inspired themes, employing styles and instruments from that part of the world. While the soundtrack sounds, at times, a bit gimmicky and bland at others, the overall quality is high and the album provides delightful background music, with a few tracks that will do far more than that.
Many of the songs sound similar and this is one of the reasons that the soundtrack works better as background music rather than the center of attention. Listeners would have difficulty identifying any given track by name, although the in-game purpose is usually clear. There are comforting tracks like “The Way of the Open Palm” that set an excellent mood. Many of these tracks paint quaint images of babbling streams and bamboo gardens, especially “Hills and Fields.” Character themes like “Dawn Star Theme” are among the better-orchestrated songs on the album. Battle and dungeon tracks, however, are the least remarkable, only succeeding at serving an in-game purpose for the most part. The listener is less likely to tune out battle themes than dungeon themes, namely “Fury, Hammer and Tongs.” “Death’s Hand Suite” is one of the least captivating songs on the album, due to its lack of structure, which plagues all the lesser selections.
There are a few standout tracks that deserve special mention. The “Jade Empire Main Theme” is a perfect ode to what the game is all about. “Ballad of the Drunken Revelers” is the catchiest tune on the album, and “The Waterdragon” is a somber and beautiful dirge to honor a majestic creature. The album also finishes strong with the airy “Sanctuary” with its divine flutework.
The Jade Empire OST may function better in the game, but even without visuals to assist in creating that Chinese flavor, the soundtrack succeeds in doing so. It may be a bit repetitive, and not every track will inspire, but the songs are carefully and passionately crafted and it shows.