Music is an integral part of any game. While pieces that truly compliment their environment are often capable of stirring emotions and conveying a story without the use of words, dull, uninspiring themes can go completely under the radar.
The list below is a compilation of some of my own personal favorite aquatic themes in RPGs. I have attempted to provide an eclectic mix of tracks from all sorts of RPGs throughout the years, but I’m sure that I have missed many amazing pieces as a result. But that’s where you come in – be sure to leave your own personal favorites down in the comments below.
Beyond the Deep Blue Sea – Final Fantasy V
Prior to Final Fantasy Tactics, and perhaps beyond that point for some, Final Fantasy V was considered the best representation of the job system in the franchise. Even so, the game tends to be overlooked – or set to the side – when part of a debate or list against other Final Fantasy games. It is not my favorite entry either, but the job system is vastly superior to that found in its forefather – from a job system standpoint, Final Fantasy III – and it has, surprise, an excellent soundtrack by none other than the man himself – Nobuo Uematsu.
Falls Basin – Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
Speaking of catching flak, Mystic Quest is, without a doubt, one of the most crapped-on games in the franchise but it kind of asks for it. I’ll spare you the granular details, but basically it was billed as an introductory RPG for the West. Apparently, games like Final Fantasy I and Dragon Quest/Warrior were just too difficult for us to comprehend, so Square made a definitive “easy mode” for our gaming pleasure. The result? A very mediocre game that, while not terrible, is not good at all.
Linearity and difficulty aside, Mystic Quest has a great soundtrack. While many of the pieces are a bit too “90s” sounding to appease modern society, this track has aged a bit more gracefully than others have.
Hydropolis – Ni No Kuni 2
From what I can gather, Ni No Kuni 2 was a bit underwhelming to many returning players to the franchise. While I cannot argue for or against that, considering I have only played one half of the series myself, I do know that I personally enjoyed Ni No Kuni 2 despite it being one of the easiest RPGs out there (perhaps rivaling the aforementioned Mystic Quest). Regardless, it takes place in a beautiful world with lovely music, and this is easily one of my favorite tunes from the entire compilation.
Mysterious Thing – SaGa 2
Ever wondered what the inside of a human body would sound like at the molecular level? Probably not, but this track has you covered in case you did, and is a worthy addition to the list seeing as our own bodies are comprised of about 60% water. I’ve gone on about legendary composer duo Kenji Ito and Uematsu multiple times before, so I won’t fanboy too hard here. You should definitely give the entire soundtrack a listen though.
Serpent Trench – Final Fantasy VI
Easily one of the most impressive tracks Uematsu has ever composed, Serpent Trench is the gold standard in aquatic themes. Neither fast nor slow: upbeat, but not in an intense, heart-pounding sort of way. Full of emotion and wonder, Serpent Trench easily leaves a lasting impression.
That’s it for this list. Stay tuned for more musical spotlights in the future!