One thing that you have to get straight in your head before you listen to Legend of Heroes is that it is not Ys. Yes, both were produced by Falcom, but the music of Legend of Heroes (also known as Eiyuu Densetsu) is innately different from that of Ys. Whereas Ys uses mostly power rock, Legend of Heroes is based off something more akin to the “usual” RPG, only noticeably better than average. The reason that I mention this first is because I, myself, came into this thinking I was to be hearing Ys.
This is just so very much really not the case.
Now that I have that out of the way, this is not a bad album. Not at all, though it does suffer somewhat from the overall homogeneity of the music present. I cannot, I’ll admit, possibly fathom the reasoning behind Falcom’s decision to break up the OST for Legend of Heroes V into two parts. Nevertheless, they did so, leaving us with Part One and Part Two albums for the game. Why I find this to be a particularly unfortunate move is that this means at least one of the two albums for the game is likely to get the short end of the stick. In this case, this was the part that got that short end. Not because the music is bad. Oh no, the music is quite good, it’s just all basically expressing the same sentiments. Part One contains all of the game’s softer, perkier, and generally happier melodies, along with basically all of the sad music. The balance to the album is off, in such a way that you can put the music on in the background and totally forget it’s there until some rare song knocks you back on your feet and you start paying attention for a bit. For the most part, that’s the worst of the album. Had they mixed the songs up between the two albums a bit more, it wouldn’t even be an issue.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to the actual music. Firstly, the very first song on the album is one of the best on it. “Leone Fredrik Richter – A Cagesong of the Ocean” is a beautiful and rather haunting tune. Later on, it even gains a somewhat epic vibe to it, touching quite a few bases in the process. It’s absolutely gorgeous and stands far above most songs of its type. Sadly, the “song” that follows it is quite possibly the worst music Falcom has ever put to paper. It’s an absolutely atrocious MIDI horn sample playing a jingle that’s just terrible in every way. It’s worse than “Olha” from the Ys VI OST, and that’s saying something. Maybe Falcom was just trying to highlight the genius of the preceding song by putting this here, but I personally would have sent those seventeen seconds straight to a sound effects disc: you know, the discs you never listen to.
Speaking of odd songs, this OST has what is most likely the most inappropriately named song in Falcom history. “Dreadful Encounter with the Dark Beasts!” is happy, with a perky little rock organ in the background. It’s the kind of music you’d put to silent comedies, not something you thrash evil to. Maybe this is one of those pieces that you’d have to play the game to understand, but otherwise it’s just bizarre. In fact, there are other odd tunes on the soundtrack, like “Shao & Reychel,” which honestly sounds like something from Banjo Kazooie. Then there’s “Spinning Roulette,” which is so much classic noir that it’s almost dripping with black and white. All put together it’s brilliant absurdity, if not exactly what one would expect from a Falcom album. Then there’s a bit of an odd song in the form of “Season of Love.” What makes this song so odd is that it uses synths that are straight from the older days of Falcom, when they had less than stellar sample sets. Somehow, though, it’s really pleasant when applied as they did. It’s both soothing and somehow nostalgic, making for a great song overall.
As I said earlier, this is not Ys. However, there are some absolutely brilliant songs on the album of the power rock type. Both “Never Going to Leave” and “Limit Force” are superb songs that I assume play in some sorts of battles in the game. The former has a somewhat interesting little slow section in it, giving some balance to the fast guitar synth in the background. The latter is just plain awesome, even if it is somewhat predictable in the way that it plays out.
After all of this, the album ends with two “bonus” tracks. One of which is a “prototype” version of the first song on the album. I can only assume by “prototype” they mean a completely different version of the song that they made before they settled on the final one. It’s an excellent song, but I prefer the song before it, “Recollection of Forest.” It’s somehow just so classically sweet and hopeful that I can’t help but love it. For those who dislike their saccharine, though, this may not be your cup of tea.
Overall, the album is quite solid. It has representations of everything, just with the balance extremely skewed towards one side of the spectrum. The album would probably have more effect for those who know the music and the game itself. While this could easily be said for just about every OST, it really applies for this one, where some of the music is just queer at times. Still, the album can be listened to on its own right without needing to play the game first. I’d recommend the Second Part over this, but you probably won’t be disappointed in this album. Just don’t expect Ys.