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Bravely Default II’s Grand Music Does Most Of Its Storytelling

Image: Nintendo / Kotaku
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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s ongoing hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today, let’s listen to some of the songs from the new Final Fan–, err, Bravely Default II’s instant-classic soundtrack.

Bravely Default II (playlist / VGMdb / longplay / impressions) never ends. Good thing it has a soundtrack that never gets old. Exhibit A: “The Gongs of Battle Ring Out Again,” the battle theme, which you’ll hear—and this is just a rough estimate—18 gazillion times over the course of the game:

Square Enix / Yoshi Vibes (YouTube)

This rousing battle theme takes off right out of the gate, with metal-inspired guitar riffs over a blistering drumbeat. But it doesn’t quite veer into metal (save that for Doom), thanks to an immediate horn-based hook. Plus those strings! Last year, while playing through the game’s strangely challenging first demo, I didn’t once tire of hearing this theme. After dozens of hours with the full game, it’s safe to say I’ve heard it a lot more. I still haven’t tired of it.

But the battle theme isn’t the only song you’ll hear during battles.

All four party members have their own character-specific theme, which kicks in when you activate their job-specific special move. Further, you unlock these special moves piecemeal, each after about 10 hours of play or so. I’m not exaggerating when I say that one of the motivating factors for me was to hear each new song; not only are these themes fantastic, but they also feel emblematically true to their respective characters. The best, by far, belongs to Elvis, the laissez-faire magic-user who says things like, “Let’s have a wee drink or six.” He’s got this jazzy, swingy, laid-back number, “The Best Drink Is the Earth-Blessed One After the Battle,” featuring a bunch of woodwinds:

Square Enix / Yoshi Vibes (YouTube)

Elvis is the type of guy you’d expect to hang with in a ‘20s-themed “speakeasy” in Shibuya. (He’s cool, but not cool enough for the real thing.) And this is exactly the type of music you’d expect to hear in such a bar. It’s perfect.

Adelle’s theme, “Thus the Wandering Flame Flares Up,“ is also a standout—persistent and proud, just like her—but that’s not what makes me love it. Listen to the main hook, right from the start:

Square Enix / Yoshi Vibes (YouTube)

Now listen to the start of this song, dramatically titled “The One Who Soars in the Darkness of Having Longed, Leapt, and Suddenly Fallen” like it’s the first song on a debut album from a circa-2007 scene kid band:

Square Enix / Yoshi Vibes (YouTube)

I know what you’re thinking: That’s the same melody! And the reasoning is rooted in the plot.

Image for article titled Bravely Default II’s Grand Music Does Most Of Its Storytelling

You’ll hear “The One Who Soars…” (I’m not typing it out again) while fighting Edna, Adelle’s long-lost sister, who’s been corrupted by a malevolent presence.

Bravely Default II doesn’t really know how to tell a story with its words. The paint-by-numbers plot is carried by one-dimensional characters; the dialogue is often melodramatic; you’re on a quest to find magical crystals, for crying out loud. Been there, done that. But Bravely Default II definitely knows how to tell a story with its music. That, to me, will never get old.

And that’s it for today’s Morning Music! What gaming tunes could you put on repeat from now until the end of time? How about soundtracks that do a better job at storytelling than the games they’re a part of? Share away! Catch you on…Oh, no, there’s another Monday soon? Damn. [It’s OK, I’ll come up with something good. —Alexandra]