The 7th Saga is a game that’s constantly on my mind. I can never quite put my finger on what it is that keeps me coming back to this game. There are so many little details that hook me, building up this grand experience that draws me in, despite my better understanding that the game as a whole really isn’t that great. There’s something in the overall atmosphere that I can’t shake.
And, a huge part of that is the music.
For me, I’ve always felt an incredible air of—I’m not even sure how to phrase it. Is it loneliness? Solitude? Is “aloneness” a word? The design of the game itself affects this by limiting you to two characters in your party at most, and builds on it further by having your would-be companions potentially battle you, betray you, or otherwise stand in your way. It’s you on your own in a world full of grotesque enemies with names like “Despair” and “Defeat”.
Again, the music really drives this home. The atmosphere could have easily been dispelled with a different soundtrack, but in this case, almost every track has a mood I’d describe with terms such as “pensive” or “wistful” or “apprehensive”. At best, you get a track like the boss dungeon theme that gives you a feeling of determination. Meanwhile, when most other games have battle themes that are encouraging and engaging, 7th Saga is leaving you feeling like you could die at any moment—which isn’t helped by the fact that the enemies are built in such a way that you could literally die at any moment. If you win the battle and are sent back to the world map, you’re greeted with one of three or four different songs, all of which will leave you wondering what in this cruel world keeps you moving forward.
Desolation. That’s the word I was looking for earlier.
Not everything is melancholy and the infinite sadness in 7th Saga, however. Most of the town music is pleasant, the item shop is cheerful, and the inn music is very comforting (especially when you end up there after dying). These songs do a great job at separating the security of town from the confusing and terrifying world beyond.
And, I haven’t even talked about how the music sounds more like something I’d expect from the Sega Genesis than the Super Nintendo. If you haven’t already, just give the video a listen. Pretty much every track in the game is great, as long as you’re going into it with the right mood. Maybe just don’t listen to it right now if you’re looking to be cheered up.