[Endless Playlist is a series of monthly articles where we pick a video game soundtrack for discussion, and try to provide a critical analysis of how it performs within the game it’s from, and how it holds up on its own. This month, we’re breaking down Wizard of Legend’s soundtrack.]
I mentioned this in my review of the game, but the opening moments of Wizard of Legend are truly remarkable. With very little explanation of what you’re doing, your character is sent to explore a museum that pays tribute to the wizards who have conquered the Chaos Trials. There’s a palpable sense of awe when you take a look at their spells and cloaks, but also a feeling wonder and amazement, like you’re a child walking into Disneyland for the first time. The game achieves this with a great opening track in the museum. Let’s start there.
Composed by Dale North (who’s worked on various remixes over the years), the bulk of Wizard of Legend’s soundtrack was crafted with synthesizers, samples, and orchestral backing, and it shows in Lanova’s Treasures. The track is tentative, with a little bit of pep – the woodwind and strings serve to create a gentle atmosphere that sets the stage for what you’re about to see. The ostinato gives a hint of the magic and wonder to come, but the track never goes overboard with its grand tunes. Instead, most of that powerful magic is saved for the later pieces.
It’s a very melodic piece, and while it’s a shame that we only hear Lanova’s Treasures once in the entire game, it’s still a fitting intro to the game and makes a much bigger impact than the bombastic opening theme. At its core, Wizard of Legend is about building this fantastical world about magic and spellcasting. It’s a very light and carefree setting that draws players in, and this track just meshes so well with the tone of the game.
Wizard of Legend’s intoxicating vibes carry over to the home track as well, lovingly titled Arcane Refuge. This one’s probably the most recognizable track because you’re going to hear it a lot when you die in a dungeon and respawn back at home. Arcane Refuge is, without a doubt, the best piece in the soundtrack simply because of how many moving parts there are and how it perfectly encapsulates the game’s warm tone.
It’s difficult to notice the consistent piano notes because of how many other instruments are layered on top of it, but that soft piano line is what keeps the track going and feeling warm all throughout. As the track goes on, we hear more strings, more woodwinds, and what sounds like a cello to go hand-in-hand with the dialogue from the talking furniture in the house. There’s even a little music box segment in there that helps to sprinkle a little bit of that magical wonderment we heard in Lanova’s Treasures.
Overall, it’s just an incredibly well-done and memorable track that really sticks with you. Considering how challenging Wizard of Legend’s dungeon runs can be, respawning back home with this piece playing just feels very welcoming and gentle. It’s wistful and nostalgic, but stops just short of sounding cheesy or too over the top. Awesome track.
Right before you enter the dungeons, and you’re getting ready around the plaza, you’re treated to Prepare For Chaos, which is essentially the game’s preparation theme. While not quite as warm or alluring as Arcane Refuge or Lanova’s Treasures, this piece still manages to capture the game’s magic. The piece is bolstered by the brass orchestra, complete with a rousing phrase near the 40-second mark. Similar to Lanova’s Treasures, this is a track that tries to give players a sense of the power and magic soon to come, but without going overboard. It’s also certainly good at giving the player a sense of epic adventure and grandeur right before starting a dungeon run.
As amazing as the soundtrack has been thus far, however, surprisingly enough it’s the dungeon tracks that failed to grab my attention. That’s not to say they’re bad; they simply sound like generic ‘battle’ music. There’s a recurring leitmotif in all three dungeon tracks, though it’s a lot more recognizable in Freiya’s Cage and Atlas’s Terrace, which are the ice and earth themes respectively. Still, North does a fantastic job of using different instruments for each piece to differentiate them and convey a different element through the music.
For instance, Freiya’s Cage makes use of the piano and flute (and I think I hear a tambourine in there somewhere, perhaps?) to illustrate the icy nature of the dungeon. The notes are fleeting and sprinkling, and it fits in with the dungeon aesthetic well. On the other hand, Atlas’s Terrace relies more on heavy marching drums to convey a much weightier and punchy sound. They’re good tracks, they’re just not very impressionable, and that stands out especially in a soundtrack that has such an emphasis on melodic tunes.
That said, the fire dungeon theme is impressive on all fronts. Zeal’s Forge features the same leitmotif and main theme as Freiya’s and Atlas’s of course, but the instruments and beat here are simply sublime. The track begins with such intensity with little to no buildup, and the rapid woodwinds and strings used really highlight a sense of rush, almost like everything has been plunged into chaos and flames. Zeal’s Forge is so much more present and self-assured as a theme, making the fire dungeon my favorite to play in the game by far.
Thankfully, the combat and boss themes get much better as you continue listening to the soundtrack. Shuu’s Spire stands out because of its usage of a light choir and a pretty funky bass line. It’s easy to go too far with choral work, but it’s lightly sprinkled in this one, and creates a very light and flowy soundscape when the harp kicks in. Perfect for an air stage.
Duel of Legend, however, is the real star here. Right from the start, the melody is sweeping and soaring and epic. It’s as if all of your battles and dungeon runs have been leading you to this one final, cosmic moment in the stars. I’ve always been a fan synths and basically any form of mainstream music that makes use of synthpop or electronic beats. Duel of Legend incorporates that, along with an orchestra of string instruments and brass, to create a vastly complex track that’s fitting for a final showdown in Wizard of Legend. If you listen a little closely, you can almost make out hints and phrases that call back to the dungeon themes and Arcane Refuge. It feels like an epic musical wrap up, and there’s no better way to close out the conflict than with this lovely gem of a track.
As we approach the end of the soundtrack, we’re treated to Magical Merrymaking, which plays after you’ve beaten the Chaos Trials. And once again, it’s like we’re back in Disneyland. While Lanova’s Treasures was subtle and almost teasing about the magic that the game was hiding, Magical Merrymaking is a celebratory theme that revels in all that your character has achieved and acknowledges all the power you’ve gained along the way.
This track relies a little heavily on the brass and orchestral beats, but also takes the time to slip in some nostalgia and romance with the softer strings sections. After this, we’re led into the end credits theme which, as you might have expected by now, leans completely into the game’s sense of nostalgia and wistfulness, with a hint of sorrow and romantic melancholy.
The piano and the strings take the spotlight in Legendary Deeds, providing a welcome break from all of the intense, high-octane beats of the dungeon and combat themes. North especially favors the woodwind here. While it was always present here and there in previous tracks, it’s especially pronounced in this one, and the track is all the better for it as a bookend to an incredible journey.
Wizard of Legend thrusts players into a fantastical setting, where you’re meant to regard magic with childlike wonder and amazement. The lore behind the Chaos Trials, and the journey your character undergoes to conquer them all feel like part of a short fairy tale. And yet, the tale itself certainly wouldn’t have been half as impressive as it is now without North’s splendid musical work. I’m typically not a fan of synthesized samples, but with Wizard of Legend, the blend of synths and orchestra works to create a truly distinct and memorable sound that completely shapes this cosmic world.