Music to My Ears: One-Way to the Netherworld

Amidst these uncertain times, one of the few constants in my life right now has been our playthrough of Trails of Cold Steel III. I know how ludicrous that sentence sounds, but bear with me. We started the game back in October and have been posting videos five times a week since then. The Trails series features long games, and CSIII is no different, so the other day we came to the realization that this has been going on for more than six months.

It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. We vowed to go through the game blind, with no spoilers and no guides. The benefit of that is that our reactions to what’s happening are genuine because we’ve never seen these moments before. The downside is that even by a 100-hour game’s standard, it feels like it’s taking forever. Now, it’s not a chore or anything — playing the game has still been fun and it’s been cool getting feedback from commenters along the way. But it just feels weird to think that half a year has passed since we started, particularly given how much has changed over the last month or so.

I talked a bit about my early impressions in earlier posts about CSIII, including the last music post on Spiral of Erebos. That all comes full circle in today’s post. One-Way to the Netherworld plays at a pivotal moment near the end of the game, and it has the distinct advantage of using part of Spiral of Erebos as its leitmotif, as well as the Heimdallr town theme that featured so prominently in a handful of songs in CSII. Like the first two games in the Cold Steel part of the series (and really, damn near every Trails game at this point), it’s a fitting track for a creepy, sprawling dungeon where the stakes are drastically high. About my only complaint is that it isn’t persistent background music, AKA it gets interrupted by a battle theme whenever you enter combat instead of continuing through it.

This song has several parallels with Phantasmal Blaze, the final dungeon theme from CSII. Both open with building cymbals, then build their way through some layered new material before making a triumphant transition into a new version of a track from earlier in the game (or series). Falcom Sound Team is one of the best in the business at appropriately setting the stage for moments big and small, and this piece of the OST is no exception.

One-Way to the Netherworld (Trails of Cold Steel III)

Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.

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