You probably haven't ever heard of (much less played) Depth Fantasia, Asia's Enix-published MMORPG. One reason for this may be because of the game's unpopularity. In 2005, Enix shut down the servers for the game, so it's probably not being played by...anyone, now.
As for the game's quality and fun factor, I wouldn't know. I myself have never played it. However, the artwork for the game was enough to get me intrigued, and the music has brought me to an even deeper appreciation of Depth Fantasia, the game we'll never play.
Composed by two Japanese musicians that I have never heard of, the Depth Fantasia OST includes some wonderfully charming and atmospheric songs. Nearly everything about this soundtrack feels synthetic, particularly because the synth sounds that attempt to imitate real instruments fail at doing so; hence the best sounds are those that are intentionally surreal and artificial. Yet, what the soundtrack lacks in synth quality it makes up for in compositional quality.
Indeed, if I were to pinpoint one quality that makes this soundtrack worthwhile, it is the simple observation that these songs sound like decent RPG tunes. Reminiscent of late 16-bit / early 32-bit music, these songs capture the heart of the nostalgic RPG Fan. As Che Guevara asks himself in The Motorcycle Diaries, "is it possible to feel nostalgia for something which one had never previously known?" Like the Inca ruins, I feel that this soundtrack leads us to the answer: yes.
You'll notice that the discs are separated by composer: Takemoto composed all of disc 1, Uchida wrote the songs for disc 2. The difference between the discs? Uchida's songs are the more orchestral songs, with somewhat more realistic synth, probably used for special sequences in the game. Notice that disc 2 only has 17 tracks that run to 50 minutes, whereas disc 1 is a full disc's worth of music.
Many of Uchida's compositions (especially anything with the name "Dallos" in it) sound like the sort of royal majesty pomp and circumstance you hear in all RPG castles, especially Dragon Quest. There are also some ambient songs here, and many of them make use of a strange new "ooh" voice synth; it sounds different than all others I have heard. The string work (and especially the harps) sound like Sakimoto's work in FF Tactics or Vagrant Story. Nice work on the synth manipulation, Uchida-san!
So if you're looking for 1) synthesized nostalgia in a previously unknown form, or 2) another symphonic "quick fix", either reason is enough to get this soundtrack before it becomes impossible to find. Despite the game's being published by Square Enix, the soundtrack was published by Team Entertainment (like Star Ocean: Till the End of Time). If you are even remotely interested in this soundtrack, I'd suggest picking it up before it completely disappears.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann