Eternal Ring was released in 2000. It was one of From Software’s early PS2 games besides Kings Field. However, it was not very popular and it did not receive many good reviews. If you’re curious like I am, you’ll look at the cover art and think, “hmmm this might be interesting”. When I discovered this game in a pawn shop this is exactly what I thought.
Segawa, Kanda and Saitoh does a phenomenal job on keeping the theme prominent throughout the entire soundtrack.
Eternal Ring is a first person RPG that I would dare say be the early prototype of the Dark Souls series. It has amazing fantasy/mythical creature design, brilliant A.I. and interesting level architecture.
Your adventure begins with a request from the King of Heingaria to investigate an island that has been known to have disturbing disappearances. You can craft a myriad of incantations by combining elements that you pick up from enemy loot and forging them into rings. This is one of the main RPG elements of the game.
The Eternal Ring Soundtrack was composed by Keiichiro Segawa, Yuji Kanda and Tsukasa Saitoh. The opening theme for Eternal Ring is soft and melodious. However, within the fourth bar it becomes semi-ambiguous which alludes to some sort of possible cryptic and mysterious happenings that occur. Listen to the main theme here. Segawa, Kanda and Saitoh does a phenomenal job on keeping the theme prominent throughout the entire soundtrack. Once you start the game and enter the level of a cave, the first track that you hear when you play the game is called Lamentation.
Although, it sounds like direct General MIDI.
In the beginning of the piece it is disorienting to the ear because there is a harpsichord playing a 16th note ostinato in Bach-like form layered with a haunting small choir singing an ascending line. While you play the game, the music feels somewhat chaotic. There is also a small dose sensory overload because your character can move fast but some of the enemies move slow but attack fast.
Basically, you’re trying to get accustomed to the controls so the music is apprising something completely different than what you’re seeing. However, after a couple days of playing through the same cave area, I began to become perspicacious of the music subconsciously and by the time I exited the cave area, the soundtrack opened up to me.
For its time, the soundtrack has excellent orchestration. Although, it sounds like direct General MIDI, if the listener can look past that and appreciate the odd arranging techniques in some of the pieces as well as the unconventional modulations, it becomes really wonderful. Favorite pieces of mine include Congeries, Hangs By a Thread, Theme of a Dragon, A Mite, Noah, Nobleness, Leaving Story, Elicit, Faute and Juste.
This is just an intimation of the genius the composing team Segawa, Kanda and Saitoh has written for this game.
For a moment, I would like to focus on the the Noah piece. I particularly enjoy this track because it begins with sparse orchestration with the bass drum and just the string section in the bass section and the plucked guitar in the tremble. Piano reduction transcription below:
After four bars the flute comes in with a variation of the Eternal Ring theme (which again masterfully appears in almost all 27 tracks).
Followed by a sudden modulation with rhythmic and contour development.
This is just an intimation of the genius the composing team Segawa, Kanda and Saitoh has written for this game. It is wonderful to exhibit how they pull in the player with musical pivots, tension and dissonance, in addition to have the music function and flow.
I highly recommend giving the game a run especially if you are a fan of From Software.
There was a re-release of Eternal Ring on the PlayStation Store on May 23, 2017 since being released on PS2. I highly recommend giving the game a run especially if you are a fan of From Software and their catalog. Happy playing and listening!