With Tales of Vesperia, Motoi Sakuraba has composed his tenth soundtrack for the Tales series (though only half have made it to North America). His name is always associated with the series, so he is to Tales what Nobuo Uematsu is to Final Fantasy. He gets a little help from Hibiki Aoyama this time around, whose only work is on this soundtrack. One problem I have had with Sakuraba’s work on the Tales series is that they always sound very much alike, and nothing is different here. That doesn’t mean this soundtrack is bad though, as it is still largely great.
The soundtrack is a whopping 4 discs, so it has plenty of songs to choose from. There are hits and misses, but that will happen with so many soundtracks. The opening theme song is performed by popular Japanese songwriter and singer Bonnie Pink. It’s quite catchy and a solid opening song, although I still prefer the opening theme song for Tales of the Abyss as my personal favorite. The first song on the disc, entitled “The Dawn of Departure” is exactly what you expect from a Tales title screen song. It sounds almost identical to the one in Tales of Symphonia. It’s still a great song though, as the title screen song in Tales of Symphonia was fantastic.
One of my personal favorite songs on the soundtrack is “Time of Elegance.” It fits the themes of the game really well and is also a very soothing song. Actually, most of the songs on the soundtrack are rather soothing to the ears. They are vastly driven by wind instruments, just like the rest of the series. Of course, you still have the pulse-pounding songs for the boss fights and dramatic points in the story. As expected, the battle songs are very upbeat to get you ready for the action, as they should be. They still sound very much like past songs in the series though. The world map song’s name “Comfortable Journey” is actually a little ironic in that it sounds so much like previous world map songs from other Tales games that it makes it seem like Sakuraba was just going with what he was comfortable with.
It really irks me that the Tales Studio’s philosophy on the series is just to redo the same concepts over and over again. I know people are going to say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but people can only stand the same thing over and over again for so long. This series is getting stale, no matter how refined its concepts are. I’m actually tired of getting exactly what I expect each and every time. This is no different for the soundtrack. It’s great at what it does, but I wouldn’t mind a little change now that the first next-generation game is out of the way. If deciding on whether to buy this, I pose one question: Do you like previous Tales soundtracks and want more of it? If so, then this is a no brainer. Otherwise, have a listen to some of our samples to see if the style is what you are looking for. It’s a good soundtrack, but one I feel like I have heard many times before.