After a full 100 hours, I’d finally conqured Octopath Traveler to 100% completion the other day. While I could talk at length about the game for hours, this Top Ten is focusing entirely on what I feel is its strongest asset: the music. As a game composer, I have a particular appreciation for video game OSTs, and Octopath Traveler’s is absolutely among the best I’ve ever heard! Relative newcomer composer Yasunori Nishiki saw it fitting to craft a massive, melody-driven soundtrack for this game, and have the entirety of the game’s songs performed by live musicians. I cannot overstate how much this level of care added to the game, particularly when the music actively elevates other aspects of Octopath (such as its writing and storytelling). It was quite a task to narrow down the choices to a mere ten, but here they are!
One last thing, SPOILERS ahead! Nothing game-ruining, but if you want to go in blind to some of the details of the game, you may want to return later. The number one pick in particular has a pretty revealing title.
Few things are worse than a tedious, repetitive battle theme in an RPG, since it’s the song you’ll almost certainly be hearing more than any other. Octopath knows you’re going to be fighting often, though, and treats the player to not one, not two, but three wholly unique normal battle themes across the game so you never get too tired of any one song! It’s a good thing, too, because it resulted in this catchy theme that goes in all sorts of unexpected directions. The first battle theme almost made the list, but it got edged out by this one.
Told you there’d be spoilers. The Ending Theme is a lovely medley of the eight overworld themes, although I feel it could’ve had a little more impact if the composer went with his original plan of making it the eight Traveler themes. Regardless, it’s a lovely piece of music and sums up the adventure in a nice way.
This melody can be heard fairly early, but it’s its implementation in Primrose’s final chapter that really give it an extra boost. H’aanit’s story also features this theme a few times. It’s a dramatic, uplifting song that provides some intense atmosphere at key points.
Bonds of Friendship
Octopath has a few different categories of song, from battle themes to field themes to village and character themes. Among these are cutscene themes, pieces of music that help emphasize emotion, levity and/or tension during story moments. Bonds of Friendship is my personal favorite of those, a beautiful little song that comes across as both playful and hopeful. This was one of the first themes I heard in the original demo that convinced me the music in this game was something special. Who doesn't love that piano/violin section at the 40 second point!?
Decisive Battle II
Not content with giving us three battle themes, Octopath goes the extra mile and delivers a whopping six boss themes. All of them are great, but Decisive Battle II is definitely one of the best. It’s catchy and intense and goes great with the game’s battle system. It includes a neat little coda where the loop point would normally go, a fancy trick employed by several of the boss themes in the game.
Olberic, the Warrior
It was tough not just putting all the character themes in this list and calling it a day, since they’re all extremely fitting and well-written. But in the end, I only included two, starting with this rich, noble tune. You can really feel Olberic’s combat history weighing upon him in this piece.
Battle at Journey's End
The Chapter 4 boss theme really pulls out all the stops in letting you know a lot lies on the line. It’s got a great feeling of intensity, particularly when the trumpets blare the melody—and then the recorder (of all instruments) just goes wild after the key change! The drum part during the bridge is similarly intense, as is the coda with all those upbeats. I also want to point out here that every one of the eight Travelers has a unique musical prelude into the boss themes, which is a fantastic touch.
OCTOPATH TRAVELER -Main Theme-
The first song heard upon opening the game is one of the few that uses the full orchestra, and it really sets the stage for the adventure to come. Like much of the game’s soundtrack, the Octopath Traveler Main Theme is built on a strong melody that grows and evolves as it repeats. The end result is an uplifting, adventurous song that makes you yearn for adventure.
Tressa, the Merchant
Here’s one I rarely hear people talk about, but I absolutely love it. This song is ridiculously catchy, full of personality, and it fits Tressa to a capital T. The harmonica is an inspired choice, and the general chord progression captures a wonderfully nostalgic feel that reminds me a bit of EarthBound’s Twoson theme. I don’t even mind the lack of a verse because the main melody gets played in a variety of ways.
The One They Call the Witch + Daughter of the Dark God
Spoilers! The very last “new” song you hear in the game is this operatic behemoth. (Technically, it’s two different songs, but they’re very similar and play back-to-back, so this is sort of a joint 1st place) If “Battle at Journey’s End” pulled out all the stops, this one yanks the stops out of the organ and hurls them into the ether. They went all out for this song—latin chorus, full orchestra, and a belting soprano that drives home the point that this is indeed the end. This pair of songs is all about being dramatic and awesome, and they friggin’ nailed it! Good thing, too, because you’ll be listening to it for like an hour as you repeatedly claw your way back from the abyss during the most difficult RPG battle of your life. At least your ears’ll be happy!
This wraps up the Top Ten! But there are really a ton of songs that could easily make this list. Some of the ones that got close were Saintsbridge, Battle 1, Alfyn’s Theme, Ophilia’s Theme, Primrose’s Theme, H’aanit’s Theme, Cyrus’s Theme, They Who Govern Reason and My Quiet Forest Home. If you’re like me and feel that Octopath Traveler’s soundtrack is, like, top three of all time tier, then you’ll probably want to import the 80+ track, 4-CD set. All the cool kids are doing it! Case in point, I DID IT, and it was money well spent.
Lastly, big props to Yasutomo Nishiki and Square-Enix for a great game, with a legendary soundtrack! Hope you guys enjoyed this musical thread. Happy traveling.
I avoided this thread before because of spoilers, but I feel like I can post some songs now! I do still have the postgame stuff left, but after hearing people talk about it and what it entails I'm not sure I'll prioritize beating it very highly. Anyway, here are my favourite Octopath Traveler songs in no particular order!
I was going to post the main theme as well, but since it's already been posted I'll just leave that out. Instead, my first song will be
My Quiet Forest Home
Probably my favourite track in the game. I'm such a sucker for the combo of the arpeggio on the piano and the legato on the cello, not to mention hall reverb in general. There's such a beautiful melancholy to this track that I just can't resist. Just like the forest itself.
Sunshade, City of Pleasures
I think what sells me on this track primarily is that it makes me think of Nobuo Uematsu's old stuff, when he gave us cool jazz tunes for seedy towns, like in FFVI or VII. If someone were to make a 16-bit rendition of this song with the old Squaresoft sound samples I'm sure it'd fit right in with those old soundtracks.
Back to the tranquil tunes of melancholy, but in this case I think there's also hope and determination in the melody - especially in the soft xylophone parts - which fits the traveling theme perfectly.
My favourite 'dungeon' theme. Mysterious and foreboding, with the perfect atmosphere for a quiet and seemingly empty mansion, but also a really elegant waltz.
River of Life
I love it when riffs or arpeggios stay the same through chord changes like that. Whatever that's called. Beautiful song for a beautiful town.
Wasn't sure if I was gonna include this or not, but a day like this, when I'm preparing to go back to work tomorrow after two and a half weeks of vacation I need tracks like this. I can just close my eyes and pretend that I'm in the sunwarm grass, being absolutely useless, just watching the clouds soar by.