I always find it hard motivating myself to try out new mobile RPGs. I know at some point if there’s not enough interest or money coming in, it’ll more than likely cease to exist. And just the thought of all that time and money going down the drain, leaving only sweet memories to remind me it was fun while it lasted, crushes me. Then there are cases where interesting games like Alice Order never make it out of Japan for us to enjoy. However, I’m not here to mull over the inevitable demise of mobile RPGs — no, today is a celebration of the alluring albums that get published, specifically Tales of Link’s soundtrack!
Before even listening to a second of music, I happily looked over the list of composers and noticed one amazing detail: I didn’t recognize a single name. Motoi Sakuraba is usually the go-to person for most Tales of games, so I was excited to hear the work of new composers for a beloved series. My expectations for each person on this album (nine in total) were quite high, so my eagerness to hear something unique on Tales of Link’s OST was something fierce.
The first disc is split between three composers: Kazuhiro Nakamura, Xaki, and Shota Fukagawa. With such a full gamut of staff, I was seriously hoping for more than a small handful to greet me. Of course, the few that are on here contribute several pleasant, entertaining, and somewhat safe tracks. For example, Nakamura’s militaristic/orchestral tracks do a great job establishing themselves with percussion, brass, and strings, but they don’t quite have the polish you would hear from a main-entry Tales of game. The best track to demonstrate this is “Confronting a Threat,” which has an excellent sense of urgency and good use of brass but then ironically falls short due its own track length (the loop begins around 0:47). Another few seconds of variation on the theme/rhythm — or even a new shorter section altogether — would have made this piece shine.
The issues I have with the first half of the CD are generally addressed in the second half, as we see a stronger, more interesting turn in Fukagawa’s orchestral tracks. While his more urgent tracks loop quickly, the composition overall is more alluring. Take for example “Dancing with the Evil Dragon,” where the percussion takes somewhat of a back seat in the beginning, allowing the full effect of the forte in the strings to arrest your attention. This piece is surprisingly refreshing and acts as a nice springboard to the second disc.
It’s alarming, yet incredibly welcoming, that when you reach the bulk of disc two, you undergo a kind of musical culture shock that makes you wonder if you’re even listening to the same album. This is probably due to the fact that everyone else on staff is here to contribute something, whether preciously tranquil like “Feelings That Connect Eternity” (Yuzuru Jinma and Hiroe Fujiwara) or musically driving like “Simultaneous Offense and Defense” (Yuzuru Jinma and Kanako Yamaguchi; see track sample). However, what truly hooked me were rocking tracks such as “Zephyr&Allen” and “Run through Unknown.” The energy and catchiness of these tracks threw me for a loop and made me reconsider my thoughts on this soundtrack (thank you so much, Shoy Tokunaga and Shintaro Mori).
The best way to describe my time with Tales of Link’s soundtrack is to liken it to traveling on a road surrounded by forestry during the evening. There are small beams of light piercing through overhead, but not enough to grab your attention. Slowly, these beams grow in size, until you reach the end of the forest and are greeted by a gorgeous sunset. You kind of wish that this scene was visible at the beginning of your trip, but you are thankful for an amazing end to the day. This is the Tales of Link soundtrack in a nutshell.
This review is based on a free digital review copy provided to RPGFan by the publisher. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer’s opinion of the album.