Despite the fact that I don’t have many strong feelings one way or the other about Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Three, this specific track sticks out. It seems like Zeboyd’s soundtracks often tend to strike that nostalgic note that will always stick with you, in spite of the fact that their games aren’t the most memorable. The only real exception was Cosmic Star Heroine. Note that I’m speaking in terms of story and characters, as Penny Arcade Adventures 4 was amazing gameplay wise but the story is still complete nonsense. The point I’m trying to make is, they didn’t have to go this hard. Just listen to this.
This is one of the most beautiful video game songs I’ve ever heard. I’m not exaggerating. This song is pure soothing bliss that warms my soul whenever I hear it. It would not sound out of place in a classic JRPG like Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, or Secret of Mana. In fact, there is a serious Chrono Trigger vibe to this song, specifically Schala’s Theme with the instrumentation, though I dare say that this is a better composition. There is this warm, dreamlike atmosphere through the track, and part of that could just be because it’s difficult to make out which instruments are being used.
As much as I enjoy video game music performed lived, there is an advantage that comes due to having a wider variety of sounds at your disposal, and there’s always a greater impact that comes with the unfamiliar. This track in particular uses a lot of synths that are much harder to replicate with real instruments. This in turn, makes the song feel so much more mystical and otherworldly.
So, it turns out that I have a bit of a personal history with this track. A few years ago, I spent two weeks in a psyche ward after a suicide attempt. The first day of that stay was awful due to lacking my meds, which put me on edge the entire time while I was in this unfamiliar location. When I went to bed that night, I played this particular track in my head so that I could fall asleep easier. It worked.
As for its use in the game, it fits the surrounding environment quite well. The area is called the Crystal Sewers, and it plays during the prequel DLC to the main game, where you get to temporarily control your self insert protagonist from the first two Penny Arcade Adventures (IE the ones where Zeboyd wasn’t involved). This was also when Hyperduck Soundworks first got involved with Zeboyd on their games, as they would later go on to do the music for Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode Four and Cosmic Star Heroine. As for it’s relevance to the story, I do recall that it foreshadowed a major plot point in Penny Arcade Adventures 4, but I can’t remember on account of the story being a mess.
Anyway, I think that should do it for description. See you all whenever I decided to post another one of these.
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