Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous - The Search for the Main Theme

Apart from its unrivaled character-building options, Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous also features a memorable soundtrack. And if you'd like to know more about how the game's main theme came to be, you can now check out this Steam announcement. The actual article has a bunch of audio samples, but here are just the text parts:

Of all the elements that make up Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, music holds a special place — it is something that kindles the players' interest and sparks passionate discussions. We still have plenty of exciting development stories and never-before-seen content up our sleeve, so why not share some of it? Sergey Eybog, Lead Audio Engineer at Owlcat Games, and Dmitry Silantyev, composer of the main theme (along with many other tracks) for Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, are here to tell you about how the main theme was born and share a few of their unreleased drafts.

Creating the main theme for Wrath of the Righteous wasn't easy and took us a long time. We went through a number of iterations that were quite different from each other, as we strove to align our ideas with those of the development team, before finally settling on the version that you can now hear in the game.

We had a set of key criteria for the main theme: we were looking for a melody that would be simple yet instantly memorable, and one that expressed our game's two primary motifs of fall and repentance, as embodied in Areelu Vorlesh, the mastermind behind the portal to the demonic Abyss that devastated Sarkoris. The plan was to make the melody sound heroic and heightened to convey the scale of the conflict, so we knew we wanted to use an orchestra, a choir, and solo female vocals.

We didn't have a specific music reference that had all the qualities we had in mind, so we started searching on our own. Here is what the first version sounded like[...]

It did a good job of capturing the spirit of adventure and heroism, but the team found this version overly lyrical and "bright", which wasn't really fitting for the rather dark story we were going to tell.

So we headed in another direction, looking to add a greater sense of tragedy and gravity to the music. The next version had two intentionally distinct parts built around a single motif, the first of which represented Areelu and the second the crusade against the demons.

This time we came closer to the mark: the music felt beautiful, powerful, and quite somber. But now we were faced with a different problem: our listeners had a hard time taking in the transition from a simple motif to a more complex, richer segment. Despite our best efforts, the theme did not feel cohesive.

As an experiment, we decided to make both parts of the track even more distinct from each other and replace the crusade in the second part with a depiction of the demonic forces of the Abyss. In the end, this didn't help us solve the problems we had, but it did allow us to get closer to understanding the feel of the music that would play when the game was launched.

Our creative team met once more to discuss the main theme and decided that, even though our game was going to be dark, we wanted the title screen to evoke a different kind of emotion in the player: the music needed to be uplifting and heroic, adventurous in a "duty calls" kind of way, and embodying the spirit of unity. It had to be inspiring, and the closest thing we had to that was the crusade motif, so that's what we focused our efforts on, putting aside the motifs of Areelu and the Abyss. Our key references here were the main themes from The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and Crusader Kings II.

The fourth version, despite meeting the criteria, still wasn't approved as the main theme. But the music itself was so good that we decided to use it for one of the in-game locations. You can now hear it at the war camp and in Drezen once it's under the player's control.

We decided against using this piece as the main theme because we still had some doubts about its catchiness, and the folk music elements took away somewhat from the heroic and elevated vibe that we wanted to hear in our track. For our fifth version, we focused on a simpler arrangement and a more logical and memorable melody for the choir and orchestra. The choir needed to perform a marching song about glorious feats. Our composer wrote the lyrics in Latin, which roughly translate as "Hail, hail Queen Galfrey! We fight, and we will prevail!" — and this was the iteration that finally won the hearts of our team and became the final version[...]

We hope that you've enjoyed the story behind the main theme of our game. In the future, we will be sharing a few more tidbits about other fan-favorite tracks.

Stay tuned!