Rusty Hearts might not be on your radar, particularly when it comes to great MMO music, but it really should be. It was one of the first titles recommended to me when I began this column a couple of months ago, and I've been looking forward to covering it ever since.
This Korean hack-'n'-slasher has eschewed the typical high-fantasy soundtrack for one that's part piano sonatas and part pedal-to-the-metal rock. It completely kicks major tushie, in case I mince words from here on out. You're going to hear these tracks and have a hard time meshing it in your head with "MMO" -- that is, unless you've played Rusty Hearts itself.
It took some digging to figure out who did this soundtrack. All I could find was this web page, which has defeated my rusty (har) grasp of Korean. It does look like the studio's handled several regional titles, and if its work on Rusty Hearts is any representation, then I probably need to check out the rest of its library.
Let's crank up the volume to 11, folks, and jam to some righteous melodies!
In case you thought I was being facetious with the whole "Rusty Hearts is different MMO music," I'm giving you Alonewolf right off the back. From the first strains of the guitar to the point where the song kicks in at 0:13, it's a high-octane ride to the finish. Would this be right at home in a racing game? Sure. What about a fighter title? Definitely. But when an MMO has a track like this, I absolutely need to know why the game wants to jack up my adrenaline this hard.
I don't care what game you're playing; Alonewolf should be the de facto standard music for any boss fight.
2. Gate of Chaos
Pulling back on the throttle a bit, we come to Gate of Chaos. It's what I would call a "prowling" song -- a track that mixes atmosphere and a rhythmic beat to give you the feeling of going forward, forward, ever forward. It helps that it's pretty darn catchy, too.
(Another great "prowling" video game track is Halo 2's Peril, to give you an example with which to compare this one.)
3. Memento Caligini
We're back in hardcore territory with Memento Caligini, a song with a wicked fast beat. If Guitar Hero was still a thing that we all cared about, this would definitely be one of the more difficult tracks.
It's a song that would be right at home in some of the great platformers or shmups of yesteryear. While toe tapping and all that, it's not something I could listen to for extended periods of time or if my character was doing something mundane, like cleaning out his ear. It's a song that has a time and a place for it to be effective.
I got a laugh from one astonished YouTube commenter, who wrote, "Not joking -- why have I been playing this game on mute this whole time?"
I think we've arrived at my favorite song of the bunch. It's not as single-minded as Memento Caligini, but shifts between a few different motifs as it builds to a breathless finish. I like just about everything in this track, from the groovy beginning to how it starts adding layer upon layer over time.
There's a section around 0:40 when it definitely has that Eastern anime sound. I almost expected a female J-Pop (K-Pop?) singer to start crooning, but fortunately the song shifted out of that mode as quickly as it entered it.
Bravo, Rusty Hearts. Bravo.
5. The Chasing in the Darkness
Right from the get-go we have something that's been largely absent in the OST up to this point: choral chants. It's not overdone, fortunately, but is present to punctuate the guitar riffs.
Apart from the unfortunate song name, it's a decent, if not spectacular, romp through a wanna-be thrash metal guitarist's audition tape.
I trust you've seen and heard Lindsey Stirling's infectious hip hop violin work by now. If not, this and this will get you started on the path to illumination. From the first time I saw one of her performances, I was hooked due to her geeky energy and the use of the violin to play something other than Fiddler on the Roof funeral dirges.
It's this kind of peppy violin music that runs straight through the heart of Wings. If your head isn't bopping even a little bit during this track, then we've found a perfect way to identify the android invaders that live among us.
I hope this gives you a good taste of Rusty Hearts' spectacular OST, and trust me when I say that it's just the beginning of a great musical journey. What are your favorite songs?
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!