RPG Modern* City Themes – Personal Favorites
Music is an integral part of any game. While pieces that truly complement their environment are often capable of stirring emotions and conveying a story without words, dull, uninspiring themes can go completely under the radar. Today, we’re going to take a look once again at some of my favorite modern city themes in RPGs. As I’ve done in previous lists, I’ll be limiting myself to one entry per franchise.
Note: We do not claim to own any rights to this music. All rights go to their respective artists.
Fourside – Earthbound
The Mother series has no shortage of catchy music tracks. But what always strikes me the most is just how different this piece is compared to everything else that comes before it. Before arriving at Fourside, Ness and company travel through quite a few different towns, but none can match the scale and grandiose skyscrapers of this city. Despite being set in the modern era, this track gives off urban Americana vibes that hearken back to simpler times where towering cities were more in their infancy and likely more breathtaking as a result.
Main Theme – River City Ransom
Piggybacking off the aforementioned retro vibes is this track, which admittedly, is a stretch for this list. The US version of River City Ransom leans heavily into the distant but not-so-distant greaser/rockabilly theme of the mid-20th century. But since my love for this classic NES RPG knows no bounds – and the track is catchy to boot – I’ll allow it!
City Ruins – NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata has a fantastic soundtrack, and this one in particular is certainly among my favorites. Although this game takes place thousands of years after mankind is forced to abandon the earth, 2B and others still return for the ongoing battle against the machines. And to me, this track is like a time capsule of what once was – Earth has long since been ruined, but its haunting past can be felt through this emotional piece. In that bittersweet way, it feels appropriate for this particular list.
Beneath the Mask – Persona 5 Royal
I’m a big fan of jazz-inspired soundtracks, and Persona 5 Royal is one of the best examples of that in the gaming space. This track is likely played the most out of everything else, but it never becomes grating or bothersome in the process. Although the instrumental version is also excellent, I actually prefer the one with vocals, which is surprising coming from someone who generally doesn’t like them at all.
Out of Phase – Parasite Eve
Serving as the endcap to this list is one of my favorite tunes from Parasite Eve. While it isn’t the overarching theme to the entirety of New York City – it’s the police department theme – it does capture the spirit of it nonetheless. To me, this track exemplifies burning the midnight oil, in a city that never sleeps, to perfection.
That’s it for this list! What did you think about my picks, and what would you have chosen differently? Let me know!