Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack PLUS


Review by · May 17, 2014

The PLUS series of Final Fantasy soundtracks have never been all that great. Mainly, they’ve consisted of music from CG cutscenes and various throwaway outtakes and remixes of random tunes. Sadly, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Original Soundtrack PLUS follows in that notorious tradition of being a throwaway soundtrack. Indeed, the words “more of the same” would easily sum up my feelings, but I will attempt to detail my disappointments.

The majority of pieces throughout this soundtrack are just plain boring. For an action-packed game that’s supposed to generate excitement, none of the music made me jump out of my seat and pretend to fight imaginary enemies. The most exciting pieces are High Voltage and Death Game, and while they’re lively, they lack punch. That being said, I do like that the dissonant sounds are smoother than the usual “nails on a chalkboard” dubstep so often heard nowadays. Other pieces, like The Doomed Soul and Soul Seeds, have all the right notes and chords to evoke a sense of foreboding and despondency, but lack resoluteness. The most egregiously of the boring pieces is Snow’s Theme. I know Snow mellowed out a lot throughout the series and is a mere shell of himself in this game, but he was never a boring character.

Some pieces like Captive Saint, Sazh and Dajh (particularly the second half), and Desert Lullaby are superficially pretty, but that’s really it. Pretty is such a plain word, isn’t it? Anything can be pretty, but it takes something special to be striking or elegant. Those are colorful words, are they not? Sadly, none of the pretty pieces go beyond superficial prettiness and therefore do not entice me to listen more than once.

Serah’s Theme is a vocal theme that attempts to be elegant, but the piano melody and singing never rise beyond mere prettiness. The other vocal theme, “Eternal Wind,” tries to impress with Japanese and English language versions, but is instead unimpressive due to lackadaisical singing and clichéd guitar lines. There are a couple of other vocal themes here, but they’re too forgettable to be even worth writing about.

And now, we come to the worst part of this soundtrack: the brief, but awful, remixes of past Final Fantasy tunes. The Yusnaan versions of Final Fantasy and Clash on the Big Bridge are childish renditions of amazing tunes. These are supposed to be epic pieces of music, yet they’re completely choked out and made immature. The kazoo-driven version of Clash on the Big Bridge is bad, but even worse is the Biggs & Wedge version of Terra’s Theme, which sounds like it was played on cheap plastic kazoos through a USB microphone. This is a complete and total mockery of one of the most evocative and gorgeous pieces of video game music ever created.

So there you have it. This soundtrack is a waste, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The one song I didn’t outright dislike was “High Voltage,” but even it was nothing to write home about. This soundtrack is such a forgettable throwaway that I’m struggling to come up with anything notable to say and am just filling space here with my own babbling. I shall stop now, because this soundtrack does not deserve any more verbiage.

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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR manager at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When he isn't networking with industry folks on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, Neal is an educator, musician, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm who has also dabbled in voiceover work and motivational speaking.