Jukebox Heroes: Kritika Online’s soundtrack

It’s kind of a sad commentary on 2017 that Kritika Online is one of the most significant MMORPGs to launch during the calendar year. No real disrespect to Kritika meant, just saying that in past years we might not have even noticed such a release. It’s been a meagre year for new launches, is what I meant.

Still, this odd but plucky import got the backing of En Masse (TERA) and managed to carve out a small niche to operate in the west. Instead of presenting itself as a generic or cutesy MMO, Kritika Online decided to embrace a hair metal aesthetic to match its over-the-top combat style. It’s loud, brash, and frantic — and its music complements that direction.

While there are a couple of Kritika tracks that I did enjoy a lot during my review of the soundtrack, there weren’t as many standout pieces as I had hoped. I would imagine that listening to what amounts to nonstop boss battle music would get a little old after a while, but perhaps this game is meant for small but intense play sessions. Let’s give it a listen today!

“Annihilation (Main Theme)”

While my Battle Bards co-hosts weren’t that thrilled with Kritika’s main theme when we reviewed it a few months ago, I found it pretty engaging and pulse-pumping. The drums and electric guitars go absolutely nuts in producing this anthem, and I think that the main melody has a pretty solid hook. It’s probably why I’m still in love with the 1980s, too.

“Lobby”

Well, if you want to get pumped up to head out and kick some tush, this lobby theme is perfect to get the juices flowing. After a darkly sinister opening that has echoes of The Exorcist, the beat and echoey drums drive this track forward, taking the listener along for the ride. It’s one of those tracks that needs some accompanying action to really justify this level of intensity; merely listening to it whilst sitting still and doing nothing feels like sacrilege.

“Cobweb Forest”

If you ever went to the video game arcades way back when, you might understand where I’m coming from when I say that this sounds exactly like music you might hear from a cabinet. Or not. It’s what it makes me think of, in any case, as Kritika delivers another tub-thumping track that should be served as a side dish to high-scoring combos and devastating finishers.

“Boss Theme”

As I said, this whole soundtrack is basically Boss Battles: The Album, so how can an actual boss theme differentiate itself from the rest of the pack in this setting? The answer is that it can’t, not really. It’s fine for what it is, but it really is more of the same: wailing guitars, a fast beat, and some embellishment to break things up now and then.

“Xenevia”

For the life of me, this sounds like something you’d hear in a Rocky movie. “STANDING IN THIS CORNER… XENEVIAAAAA!” It’s the first track on this list that actually sports a relatively quiet section, although not too quiet. You understand.

“Nobleria Customization”

My mind must be stuck on video game arcades, because this right here is a Dance Dance Revolution-worthy track. Must be the high BPM count and the cheery tune that would fit right in with a decade ago. In any case, I like the chipper approach used here, even if it would drive me bonkers if I had to listen to this while making careful character customization choices.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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