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Awesome Music / Octopath Traveler

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It's a little bit tempting to just link the whole OST, as Yasunori Nishiki hit the proverbial ball out of the park and toward the moon on this one. But even then, there are some standouts:

  • The Main Theme captures the spirit of wanderlust the game as a whole wants to evoke. Strains of it pop up in a number of other pieces, and it's heard a few times throughout the game.
  • The boss battle themes in this game could easily be the subject of a dissertation.
    • First off, Nishiki wrote eight introductory themes, one for each character which uses their signature instrument and evokes their personal theme, in same key and tempo as the boss theme; these introductory themes play underneath the pre-battle conversations and then segue seamlessly into the boss theme itself. The effect is discussed here in prose and here on YouTube. The seamless transition hypes the battle immensely.
    • Each boss battle theme has a Meta Twist. The defining quality of video game music is that it loops; each song is written to repeat endlessly, because the devs have no idea how long any given player will spend in any given situation. Music already has a notation for that: repeat symbols. But Octopath Traveler's boss themes also have first and second endings: the first time you go through the loop, it culminates in certain material before looping, and the second time it ends with different material before looping. This also helps hype the battle; just when you thought you'd come to the end of the song, it spirals off in a completely new direction.
    • There are four different boss battle themes all written in that same tempo and (starting) key but each with their own styles and flourishes.
      • Decisive Battle 1 plays during the less intense bosses of the early game (from a story perspective; difficulty isn't taken into account.) It is the most traditionally classical of the themes, predominated by strings with accents in horns and piano; it starts out with a traditional classical marching snare before transitioning seamlessly into Rock Music drumming. (All the other boss themes are straight rock arrangements.)
      • Decisive Battle 2 plays during more serious bosses, like Therion's boss Heathcote. It retains the string emphasis but underlines it with electric guitar and piano. It has an epic 8-bit arrangement.
      • Battle at Journey's End plays during Chapter 4 bosses. It switches from dark and foreboding to capture the power and menace of your final adversaries, to soaring trumpet and flute solos to depict the protagonist's determination in the face of daunting odds.
      • They Who Govern Reason, the boss battle theme for the four gods guarding the advanced hero jobs. A perfect dramatic piece fitting of fighting the all-powerful gods themselves. Note that this work conforms to the BPM and starting key limitation, even though it lacks a dialogue segue in-game.
    • The One They Call the Witch and Daughter of the Dark God, the two themes for the True Final Boss, are the only ones that don't conform to the above formula — befitting the boss's status as an Optional Boss that you actually might not even notice without the help of a guide. Both are incredibly powerful themes befitting the boss in question, with them both making good use of a One-Woman Wail. The latter has a heavy metal cover by FamilyJules and a second by GaMetal.
  • Plot music:
    • Determination, the theme for the first part of Primrose's final boss, a pivotal moment in Alfyn's chapter 4, and when H'aanit departs S'warkii to search for her master Z'aanta, sounds melancholy and hopeful at the same time.
    • Sorrow is a funereal and very emotional piece of music for strings, with the added surprise of a low horn near the end. As the title suggests, this music is reserved for Tear Jerker moments such as The Reveal that the one who murdered Primrose's father is her childhood crush, Simeon, or when H'aanit finds her master turned to stone by Redeye.
  • All of the main characters' Leitmotifs are not only extremely beautiful, they all fit their respective character to a T.
    • Ophilia's Theme has a gentle melody and heavy use of flute that translates into a gentle, beautiful, but extremely emotional song that fits Ophilia's kind and loving personality perfectly.
    • Cyrus' Theme is a lively and passionate string-laden waltz that fits Cyrus' gentlemanly but passionate personality.
    • Tressa's Theme, with its harmonica and woodwind instrumentation and its lightly jumping tempo, matches Tressa's wanderlust and curious personality.
    • Olberic's Theme is a heavy and extremely dramatic affair with brass and strings that echo Olberic's extremely stern but honorable demeanor and legendary skill.
    • Primrose's Theme is just like her: elegant and beautiful, with a hint of melancholy, but determined all the same.
    • Alfyn's Theme is easily the most calm and easygoing of the main characters' themes, which is perfect for such a down-to-earth and friendly man.
    • Therion's Theme is a slow and even unnerving song, with a dark element to it, fitting for possibly the most cynical and jaded of the party.
    • H'aanit's Theme is a piano piece that is as dignified and yet warm as H'aanit herself.
  • Location music:
    • The Frostlands plays in field maps in that corner of the continent, and opens the medley used over the closing credits. The glistening ostinato, backwards piano stings, gentle guitar chords and (of all things) a glockenspiel evoke a world of pristine, snowy beauty.
    • My Quiet Forest Home plays in S'warkii and Duskbarrow, the two small towns of the Woodlands. Just a piano, a cello, and some reverb, but it captures both the solace and the sorrow of this kind of remote life.
    • Beneath The Surface plays in dungeons that take place underground or in ruins, such as the Absurdly Spacious Sewer that caps off Tressa's adventure, and the Abandoned Area of Cyrus's fourth chapter. It evokes both the grandeur and the melancholy of these once-thriving areas.
    • Stolen Dreams, Lost Light, the initial town theme for Wispermill, Riverford, Everhold, and Northreach. A very haunting and ominous song that perfectly conveys how dreary and unwelcoming each area is. Wispermill is inhabited by a cult that follows the disciple of a dark god, Riverford is ruled by a despot who executes anyone for minor or imaginary offenses, Everhold is a grand fortress repurposed into an amphitheatre by a sociopathic criminal mastermind, and Northreach is a Wretched Hive where crime is allowed to run rampant.