Jukebox Heroes: The best of Ashen Empires’ soundtrack

Jukebox Heroes: The best of Ashen Empires’ soundtrack

Originally inspired by the Ultima series, Dransik came out in the early 2000s as an isometric MMO that rode the rails of indie gaming as hard as it could. Gradually, the title rebranded itself as Ashen Empires but still remained a pretty hardcore and old school title that relished its niche status.

Ashen Empires doesn’t have the largest of soundtracks, but what exists (composed by Paavo Härkönen) is still worth investigating. In this week’s column, I’ve cherry-picked six tracks that I enjoyed from this MMO’s score — and hope you do as well.

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“Church”

There’s a lovely sense of sacred space in this track, as the faux-organ and -harp give us a peaceful little melody. This definitely sounds like the music of a room where there’s a save point… or it would be, if this wasn’t an MMO.

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“Elves”

Here’s a track with some pep to it — and in the spirit of a renaissance faire. I always appreciate cheery MMO tracks (you’d be surprised how few and far between they can be), especially from early-era titles.

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“Pirates”

I don’t think anyone can make a case for this track being piratey, not unless the pirates in questions were also ballet dancers who leap and pirouette to any boarders. And if that’s the case? Most interesting pirates I’ll have met all week!

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“Silvest Town”

Beginner zone music really needs to nail that right tone of invitation, excitement, and promise. I think this town theme hits the mark here, even if it does so rather conservatively. Also, I don’t think anyone should’ve invited the harpsichord to the party.

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“Wilderness”

Again, you really do get a classic fantasy feel from this soundtrack, don’t you? I could easily imagine a piece like this showing up in a game from the late ’80s or ’90s as you took your first steps out into a wider world.

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“Cliffside”

There’s a fun variety of instruments dancing through this track, but my favorite has to be the breathy tube (that’s an official name, don’t look it up) that’s probably some sort of fat ol’ flute. Great personality to this one.

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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