Prior to playing Ys Origin, I was initially looking forward to hearing the game’s music more than playing the game. Despite playing Wanderers of Ys long ago, Ark of Naphishtim is what got me interested in the series and its music. After playing the excellent Oath in Felghana, it made me into an Ys fan, and a Falcom music fan as well. When I finally did listen to Origin‘s music, I had mixed reactions. The music was not bad, but it was quite different from what I expected. This was back when I was a Falcom noob, knowing the Ys music mostly for its upbeat MIDI songs and excellent use of the electric guitar. In some ways, I am still a “noob” to Falcom, but I have learned more because of Ys Origin.
Around that time, I managed to play the remakes of the original Ys games, Eternal I and II. Listening to the music in those games, I got a much better understanding and impression of Origin‘s music. After several years since Eternal I and II, classic songs from those games come back with new arrangements for another Ys installment. What makes it even better is that there are a lot of brand new songs composed. Ys and music fans are in for a real treat.
Since the entire game takes place in Darm Tower, a lot of Ys I classics, such as “First Step Towards Wars” and “Palace of Destruction” got axed; so too with the majority of Ys II‘s songs. Fortunately, there are enough classics to cater a nostalgia buff.
Let’s look at the familiar stuff first. Starting off is one of my now favorite Ys I classic, “Tower of the Shadow of Death.” Among the many arranged versions I’ve heard, they’ve always had a funky, upbeat style. Origin‘s version slowed down the pace, and went completely orchestral. I found it odd at first, and it strangely reminded me of Final Fantasy Tactics. After a few listens, I began adoring this version, impressed once again how well Falcom arranged their classics.
A few others classics in disc one include “Roda,” a lush song that was introduced in Eternal I when Adol goes to visit the mighty Roda tree. Then there is the beautiful song “Feena,” used in the opening of Ys I. I didn’t notice right away since it didn’t feature the beginning portion. “Prologue –Ys Origin-” is a more recognizable version of the opening “Feena” and it’s great too. There is also a 2nd Feena song which is the classic Harmonica song in Eternal I. “Devil’s Wind” comes back, more vile than ever, and I find it listenable this time since I couldn’t grasp the rough original. Origin‘s “Tension” remained as an upbeat style of the original song, but transformed it into a jazz/techno fusion piece. I was not fond of the song at first, but like many others, they grew on me, and this version has a lot of soul to it. Last, but certainly not least, we got the gentle game over song “So Much For Today” to give nostalgia on how Ys players died countless times.
There are fewer classics to be found in the second disc, but there are a few goodies. I really liked the new version of “Dreaming”. Like “Tower of the Shadow of Death,” “Dreaming” is one of my favorite Ys I songs. It’s slower than the Eternal I version, which I liked the most, but it still has the enchanting feeling I’ve always liked about it. “Over Drive” became more upbeat and chaotic than ever, and I still like it. It was initially an Ys I song, but it later became a theme song for the Ys II villain Dulles. The main melody of “Movement of Wicked Energy” uses an orchestral version of “Over Drive,” giving the song a nice change of style. “The Last Moment Of The Dark” didn’t change much, and there is no “Final Battle” to complement it. It was one of the few classics I never got into, but Origin‘s version did make me like it more. “Termination” is an Ys II song, but when I heard the other versions, I found they were vastly different from this one. Origin‘s version of “Termination” is much slower, grittier, and far more sinister with heavy use of chanting, and occasional electric guitar which barely resembles the melody of the old song. While I got a lot more into the older versions, Origin‘s “Termination” is very well-done as a thriller song.
Getting the gist of each of the old songs out of the way, let’s now shed some light in several new ones. “The Guidance of a White Tower” serves as an opening to the soundtrack, and exists as a menu/title screen piece in-game. It’s a simple but lovely song shifting between piano and ocarina, complemented by light orchestra. Contrary to the elegance of “The Guidance of a White Tower,” “Genesis Beyond the Beginning ~Opening Version~” is Ys Origin‘s opening song with a hardcore melody, mixing rock and orchestra. With the inclusion of heavy chanting, it results in a chaotic yet epic song, mixing two opposite song styles well.
The majority of the new songs reflect on the album’s soft, emotional style the best, and they are certainly great. One of my favorite dungeon themes in the game is “Water Prison.” It’s a great song with a very serene melody that gives off a mystical feeling; it creates vivid imagery in my head. “Bonds with Companion” is one of the few songs that really touched me, having a good, genuine feel to it. Ever since witnessing a certain scene with Yunica’s route in the game, hearing “The Pain of Separation” leaves me heartbroken whenever I hear it. It’s such a beautiful song, but a depressing one too. It works really well with the next song, “Beyond the Beginning,” which is an arrangement of the opening song. The song’s orchestral style along with using it during the final leg of the dungeon made it very epic and powerful.
Aside from “Genesis Beyond the Beginning” and a few battles theme, there aren’t many other songs on the edgy side; those that attempt to be are the weakest link in the album. “Scarlet Tempest” is pretty catchy, but the melody and style came off pretty weak. “Silent Desert” is a solid rock tune, but something about the melody didn’t click with me. I do like “Samsara and Paramnesia” quite a lot as it contains the most interesting melody of the three. The gritty electric guitar and eerie organ piano meshed into a crazy, but fun, song.
Some of my favorite songs in the album are the new boss themes. They are the best among all the Ys albums I’ve listened to so far. “Scars of the Divine Wing” is an excellent and memorable battle theme, used in major boss fights. This is another excellent mixture of orchestra and rock, resulting in a dynamic beat. “Oboro” is a boss theme with an interesting melody, mixing orchestra and techno this time. The style seems more fitting for a stage theme, but it’s a good song either way. “My Lord, Our Brave” is another wonderful theme that serves well for dramatic fights. It has a very powerful orchestra melody complemented with a gritty march beat. “Tension” and “Over Drive” are also boss themes, each used just once in the game.
The last batch of songs contain more pleasant melodies, and they are all beautiful in their own right. I was most impressed with “Fair Skies,” which has a heartwarming melody. I also liked “To The Next Generation” and “A New Legendary Opening” which are great arrangements using “The Guidance of a White Tower” as the main melody. “Believing” is a lovely piano piece, distinctively using “Feena” as its melody. They are great songs to end the game with, but it’s not over yet.
The last song is a bonus track, containing another version of “Genesis Beyond the Beginning.” It’s exactly the same as the other version until the middle of the song, where it changes the melody around. The way the new portion of the song is done, I quickly liked it a lot more than the game version. It might not be much of a bonus, but I enjoyed it.
Without a doubt, this is another excellent OST by the magnificent Falcom Sound Team JDK. While it may have not dethroned Oath in Felghana as my favorite Ys OST, I had great time listening to it. It’s certainly different from all the other Ys albums I’ve heard, but that’s what makes it interesting. It’s great to hear some classics from Ys I and II again, and the new songs are certainly a welcome addition. This is easily a must have (as I would say about most Ys soundtracks), and worth every penny. Take action soon before it becomes tough to find.