Dark Souls II OST
Catalog Number: FFSA-ST005
Released On: March 13, 2014
Composed By: Motoi Sakuraba, Yuka Kitamura
Arranged By: N/A
Published By: From Software
Recorded at: Unknown
Format: Digital

01 - Departure
02 - Fire Keepers
03 - Majula
04 - The Last Giant
05 - The Pursuer
06 - Old Dragonslayer
07 - Dragonrider
08 - Sparring
09 - Flexile Sentry
10 - Ruin Sentinel
11 - Belfry Gargoyle
12 - The Lost Sinner
13 - Executioner's Chariot
14 - Duel
15 - Skeleton Lord
16 - Covetous Demon
17 - Mytha, the Baneful Queen
18 - Old Iron King
19 - Scorpioness Najka
20 - Royal Rat Authority
21 - The Duke's Dear Freja
22 - Royal Rat Vanguard
23 - The Rotten
24 - Queen of Drangleic
25 - Looking Glass Knight
26 - Darklurker
27 - Milfanito
28 - Demon of Song
29 - Velstadt, the Royal Aegis
30 - King Vendrick
31 - Throne Defender, Throne Watcher
32 - Guardian Dragon
33 - Ancient Dragon
34 - Nashandra
35 - Longing
Total Time:

I thought my relationship with Dark Souls II ended when I beat the game. I thank RPGFan Music's headmaster for the recurring nightmare.

Hearing the soundtrack to the nightmare, however, wasn't as painful as it had been for the original Dark Souls. The music isn't as evocative or memorable. While playing the game, I never paused to admire the soundtrack, perhaps because I was so focused on the horror and the difficulty, but also because the music never struck me. It never surprised me. I only remember a few furtive piano notes and the abrasive bellowing of a boss theme on the other side of a door of fog. Everything else has fallen away.

The Souls series uses music and sound effectively, and that often means silence. The few peaceful areas in the game are given quiet, pensive background pieces, and most of the remaining tracks are reserved for bosses. As with the original Dark Souls, many of them are almost indistinguishable to my ears, which translate bass horns, booming drums, and obscure vocals to "boss music," which is only slightly more ordered than noise. In game, this is an effective, if wayworn, technique. The assault of sound at the beginning of a boss battle perfectly accompanies the first sight you have of some terrifying being: the towering gangly giant, the sinner in the darkness, or the gargoyle coming to life in the moonlight.

But like the bosses themselves, their respective tracks aren't particularly memorable. A few take different approaches, like "The Pursuer," with its driving rhythm that seems to chase you through the shadows. The harpsichord in "Dragonrider" is a lovely touch. "Belfry Gargoyles" sounds familiar, one of the only tracks that elicits a strong emotional reaction. "Looking Glass Night," both the boss and the music, exemplify the Souls tradition. And "Nashandra," the final boss, features more dynamic vocals than most of the other themes, although the song itself isn't particularly dynamic.

Most of the songs are only one or two minutes long, which works to their advantage — any longer and they would be, perhaps, unbearable — but they end with fade-outs due to their being looped in game. This lends the album a somewhat incomplete, rushed feel that doesn't compliment the homogeneous nature of the songs.

Even the credits track, "Longing," meant to provide some sense of catharsis, feels ordinary. I've heard this song before in similar, if not identical, context.

Dark Souls II's soundtrack is less memorable and impressive compared to the original game's. In that way, the soundtrack mirrors the relationship between the games themselves. Still, Dark Souls II is a force of nature and while the soundtrack isn't necessarily pleasant, there's something to be said for its relentless darkness, its ceaseless discharge of grave and unsettling sounds.

Reviewed by: Kyle E. Miller