Final Fantasy XI has enjoyed quite a run! It launched in 2002, and it was only this year that Square Enix issued the final major update. This Blu-ray release includes the final pieces of music written for the game as well as a few other surprises. The video content in particular adds a lot as it relates to the title of this release, offering a lengthy series of video footage from the many areas of Vana’diel with musical accompaniment. As somebody who didn’t get very far in Final Fantasy XI, it was nice to see some of the world of Vana’diel and listen to the corresponding music, finally lending the themes some context. A breakdown of what’s featured throughout the seven videos can be found on VGMdb.
In terms of new music, there are 16 tracks total. “Forever Today” is a sweet vocal ballad presented in three different forms, including the opening instrumental that takes a sweet and slow approach, an EP version with Rhodes piano and female vocals, and the original version with a more traditional orchestral backing. From there, “Worlds Away” offers ethereal bells and piano, “Monstrosity” presents upbeat electronic rock reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIII, and “Clouds Over Ulbuka” is a tense orchestral piece. “The Price” is determined and decisive, while “The Serpentine Labyrinth” is dark and foreboding with string stabs, droning pads, and distant percussion. “The Divine” is also somewhat foreboding with its droning pads and metallic percussive hits in the background, conjuring up a ghostly atmosphere. “Distant Worlds” gets a lovely instrumental version, while “Iroha” sports dreamy bell tones that are sleep-inducing and lovely, “The Boundless Black” is ominous with its dissonant pads and industrial percussion, “Isle of the Gods” is majestic yet terrifying, and “Wail of the Void” is contemplative and enveloping with thick strings and beautiful piano melody. The final track, the powerful ballad “Rhapsodies of Vana’diel,” is presented twice, once with more Rhodes and female vocals and another that features a choir comprised voices of players of Final Fantasy XI. The track is intended to be tender and reflective of all the experiences that have been enjoyed by players over the years, wrapping things up with heavy references to the opening “Vana’diel March” and giving fans some closure.
In all, this is a well thought out release. I love the grandeur of the final pieces added to the game, and the various versions of the vocal themes are different enough to warrant their release. The video footage is also a nice touch, and will likely be treasured by longtime residents of the world of Vana’diel.
You can pick up the Blu-ray release at CD Japan if you’re interested.