In this installment of the Great RPG Music Series, we will be covering a lot of ground. Because my life was pretty much consumed by the entities known as Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft for the the better part of a decade, the amount of titles I experienced beyond the PS2 era dwindles significantly. This entry will also be the last of the music series with this kind of format as well. Instead, I intend to streamline the lists more by offering a bit less commentary while providing a compiled playlist for your convenience.
Apologies in advance for having to omit what I imagine will be tons of RPGs due to my console inexperience, but that’s where you can help! Please feel free to add some noteworthy tracks in the comments below for myself and others to enjoy. If you’d rather skip over my commentary, you can find a complete playlist at the very bottom of this article. “Gee, Meatballsub, why didn’t you do the whole playlist thing before?” Apologies, but I have retroactively added them to every Great RPG Music article should you want to revisit them again!
With housekeeping out of the way, let’s get on to the list!
Trails in the Sky – Rock on the Road
Trails in the Sky is something that I’ve started at least a half dozen times on Steam, but have never managed to complete it. My reasons for stopping stem exclusively from it not being on a handheld system I own (I know that it exists on the Vita at least). I’m really hoping it comes to the Switch because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far, and Falcom knows how to make great music.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Watchman’s Ease
Man, the feels I get whenever I listen to this piece really takes me back. Oblivion served as my gateway into the Elder Scrolls franchise because I did not have an original Xbox or a powerful enough PC when Morrowind released. I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of hours in this game over the years, and it still remains one of few titles I can hop into and not skip a beat.
Lost Odyssey – Wanderer of Darkness
During my MMORPG-heavy days, I had a nasty tendency to purchase consoles to play a game or two before turning right around and re-selling it. For a time, I had a Xbox 360 specifically to play Lost Odyssey, and wasn’t disappointed with it in the slightest. The whole concept of an “immortal” protagonist and the struggles that come with such a boon (or burden) interested me greatly, and remains among my favorite RPGs of all time.
Final Fantasy X – Silence/Calm Before the Storm
Final Fantasy X was the beginning of my “on again, off again” relationship with the Final Fantasy series. I adored Final Fantasy VII when it came out, and finished Final Fantasy VIII despite not being overly enthusiastic about the changes made in comparison to its predecessor. Then came Final Fantasy IX, which presented itself in an aesthetic that I loved, but I could never get past the third disk for some reason (and still can’t make myself to this day).
Cue Final Fantasy X, which pulled me back in even though it was a fairly significant departure from previous entries in the franchise. Even with the odds stacked against it, I managed to really invest myself in the game and found myself enjoying it because of the differences from previous games rather than holding them against it.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Nerevar Rising
As I mentioned earlier, I did not experience Morrowind in its prime, but did jump in years later to see what all the fuss was about. And I think it is to my disadvantage that I did not experience it during its glory days because I found it to be a difficult game to get into after playing Oblivion and Skyrim. Even so, I can appreciate the expansiveness of the title and what it brought to the genre back in those days.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Gerudo Valley
Before Breath of the Wild came along, OOT was the last Zelda game that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am of the same mind as the on-staff professional gaming journalist here at SwitchRPG in regards to Zelda, with that being the general opinion of Zelda games not being RPGs. Because I almost exclusively play RPGs, I never stay hooked on Zelda games for very long.
However, I loved Ocarina of Time despite that, probably because it literally blew my mind in terms of what was actually possible in a fully explorable, 3D world back then.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – Dalentarth
Ah, the ill-fated Kingdoms of Amalur. It is a shame that the whole endeavor was a financial disaster – not necessarily from a game-selling standpoint (it did “ok”), but from an overall business one. The whole ordeal is pretty sad because the game wasn’t bad at all, and I would have loved to see some more things come out of that studio.
That said, Kingdoms of Amalur captivated me with its WoW-like aesthetic, refreshing (more so at the time) combat system, and beautiful soundtrack.
Ys 7 – Mother Earth Altago
Ys VIII on the Switch completely floored me last month, and made me really want to dive into other offerings in the series. So, I picked up Ys 7 on a Steam sale a few weeks ago, and have had a great time with it. The music is just as good as the stuff I fell in love with in Ys VIII, and I find myself humming this track in particular every now and then.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – Warren Report
Even though I am a total fanboy and geek out over Final Fantasy Tactics any chance I can get, I can appreciate almost any Tactical RPG akin to it. That statement isn’t even really fair since there arguably wouldn’t have been a FFT if it weren’t for the Ogre Battle series in the first place.
Warren Report plays while browsing the in-game compendium, and is the epitome of a perfect-fitting song. I found myself hanging out in that menu way longer than I should just to hear more of this song.
The Witcher 3 – Kaer Morhen
I was quite late to The Witcher 3 train. Okay, three years to be exact, shoot me. I’m not going to waste my time with sugarcoating it, since it really needs no additional praise at this point. It is an essential game for any RPG fan, and even held the interest of my wife, whom watched a solid 90% of my 80 hour playthrough. Although I found most of the game’s tracks to be somewhat forgettable (I can feel that triggering some folks), I love this recurring theme for its simplicity and how it feels both haunting and comforting at the same time.
Diablo 2 – Wilderness
Much like the previously mentioned Oblivion piece being able to take me back, so too does this one. Before World of Warcraft appeared and consumed the better half of my adult life, I spent many sleepless nights in the world of Sanctuary. Diablo 2 high-level magic find runs remain one of my most cherished gaming memories of all time, and I’m not saying that because of its addictive, loot-based gambling properties…I may have had an addiction to Diablo 2 back then, honestly.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Koller
I’ve always liked the ideas, in theory, that the Deus Ex series brought to the table, but never managed to get hooked until Mankind Divided. Although I realize that series fans tend to shun this over Human Revolution in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the game from start to finish. While I’m a traditional, medieval fantasy guy at heart, I do like my share of the Blade Runner-esque Sci-Fi vibes on occasion as well.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – Overworld
Even though I have no first-hand experience with Ni No Kuni I, I was stoked when I heard that the second entry into the series was coming to Steam. It is a solid action RPG with an excellent soundtrack and a gorgeous art style. Unfortunately, there are only bits and pieces of the OST on YouTube, which is surprising considering its quality. Take a listen to this track and you too will wonder why the entire thing isn’t available on YouTube.
Stardew Valley – Wild Horseradish Jam (Spring)
There’s a lot that can be said about Stardew Valley, but I’ll put it this way: It is the definition of a “labor of love” project by developer ConcernedApe, and it shows in every layer of the game. The whole soundtrack is catchy, but I find myself going back to this one frequently.
River City Ransom: Underground – Seagull Alley
It should be no surprise that something River City Ransom made it onto this list. I love both the original NES game and its official sequel that was released on Steam last year. But if you haven’t been following RCR: Underground, you probably don’t know that it faced some legal issues in regards to its original soundtrack, and ended up having to create a completely new one from scratch. Although the new soundtrack is fine, I prefer the original one much more. Seagull Alley captures the spirit of the original RCR in a more modern delivery.
Shadows of Adam – Protector of Adam
Shadows of Adam is the kind of modern, retro-styled JRPG that equally looks and feels good to play. I’ve had it for a while on Steam, but am very much looking forward to its release on the Switch in the hopefully not-so-distant future. While we wait, you can enjoy this tiny piece of its incredible soundtrack, and can also check it out in its entirety over at Bandcamp.
Macabre – The Woodlands
Full disclosure: this is a shameless promotion of a JRPG I released on Steam a few years ago. That said, I consistently have some of the tracks in my game music queue, and thought I would share one of my favorite pieces with you as well.
Sword of Mana – Seeking the Holy Sword
Sword of Mana is a remake of Final Fantasy Adventure from the original Gameboy. Even though I prefer the aesthetics and sound of the original game, I do very much like the remixed version of this track specifically.
Golden Sun – Vale
I tear up a little every time I think about the Golden Sun series because it’s a literal crying shame that the franchise has been neglected for so long. While I understand that subsequent entries after the first game have experienced diminishing returns from both a financial and critical standpoint, I still think more could be done with the franchise (even if that meant a remaster of the first game or something). Seeing as how successful and popular most RPGs have been on the Switch, why not? Crazier things have happened for sure.
Playlist – Great RPG Music On: Everything Else
This playlist is a compilation of all of the tracks mentioned in this article.
Playlist – Great RPG Music (Complete)
The entire Great RPG Music series is compiled into this playlist.
As you can see, I didn’t even put a dent into the collective pool of RPGs from the PS1 era onward, so I’d appreciate you giving myself and others insight on some more picks below!