Music Monday: Valkyria Chronicles
A quick search through the Music Monday archives reveals a glaring omission: Valkyria Chronicles.
Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role-playing game published by Sega in 2008 for the Playstation 3. It released to critical praise including a “Playstation 3 Strategy Game of 2008″ nod from IGN, a “Best Original Soundtrack” award from GameSpy and strangely enough an award from Guinness World Records for “Best Strategy RPG for the PS3″. I didn’t know that last one was even an award Guinness would give.
The game follows Squad 7 of the Gallian militia in their fight to repel an invasion against the backdrop of Europa, a fictionalized setting reminiscent of 1930’s Europe. Think an interesting mixture of WWI and WWII styles and technologies with some legendary weapons and magical powers thrown in for good measure. Players control members of Squad 7 on the battlefield in a series of missions with objectives that range from defeat all enemies to capture a specific objective. In contrast to the horrors of close quarters infantry combat the graphical style is light and colorful with a beautiful hand drawn quality. I often found this graphical styling, in addition to the game’s use of onomatopoeia for battle sounds unintentionally hilarious. You’ll know what I mean when you unload a full machine gun into an enemies’ ear to the sound of “ratta-ratta-ratta”.
What I haven’t yet talked about, of course, is the music. Composed by one of my favorite composers, Hitoshi Sakimoto, this soundtrack is a real masterpiece. You may be familiar with Sakimoto’s other work including music from Radiant Silvergun, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII and Odin Sphere amongst others. If you are these selections below may sound familiar. Sakimoto has stated in interviews that while composing the soundtrack for Valkyria Chronicles he wanted to focus on the human drama of the game while including military color into the compositions. In my opinion Sakimoto has succeeded in this goal. While the battle music and fanfares from this game are exquisite there is also a lot of great music used in story and non-combat scenes. Much of this music has a somber and reflective tone that I think is fitting of a game dealing with war and loss. I’m not going to say that the game and the music together will cause tears, but if they do then they’re manly bro tears, and that’s OK.
For me, this is one of those rare games where everything comes together. I can’t think of a single thing I’d change about it. Unfortunately however, the sequels ended up on PSP and veered way too far into slapstick anime territory.
Enough praise from me, now it’s time for the music:
We Are the Barracks
We Are Squad 7
Final Decisive Battle
Those Who Succeeded