RPGFan Music

RPGFan Music of the Year 2021 ~ Editors’ Favorites: Des Miller

RPGFan Music of the Year 2021

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy Original Soundtrack

Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a gorgeous showcase of Gust Sound Team at their finest. While many Atelier games have had standout tracks in their OSTs, Atelier Ryza 2‘s soundtrack in particular is rife with fantastic themes. The greatest part of the Atelier Ryza 2 OST is how it uses motifs. Many songs have day and night versions that utilize many of the same elements on different instruments, so there’s a sense of familiarity and nostalgia to every tune despite having heard it just an hour or so prior.

Once more, Hayato Asano (of Blue Reflection fame) delivers some of the most creative and beautiful battle themes. And while Asano shines as expected, it’s the rest of the Sound Team that has really stepped up in an impressive way. Character themes, overworld tracks, and even the day-to-day city life songs all have their own identity and feel that make them stand out. The Atelier games have always had fantastic music, but Atelier Ryza 2 is firing on all cylinders at all times.

Blue Reflection Official Soundtrack

Blue Reflection came out in 2017, so why is this listed in my Music of the Year for 2021? Well, the original Blue Reflection OST was difficult to get a hold of due to being tied exclusively to a very limited number of special edition copies of the game. However, with the release of Blue Reflection: Second Light and its OST, the original game’s soundtrack was re-issued and finally made available for purchase.

Simply put, the Blue Reflection OST is one of the best soundtracks created. It is the pinnacle of artcore, an experimental and eclectic subgenre of electronic music based on Japanese electronic hardcore. Composer Hayato Asano serves as the single composer on this album, and his work is stunningly beautiful. The usage of piano, violin, and electronic instrumentation meshed together creates a chilling, beautiful, and obscenely chaotic blend that evokes numerous emotions simultaneously. It is, without a doubt, my favorite soundtrack ever. I’m incredibly happy it was re-released alongside the sequel’s own, and I hope more people give it a listen.

Blue Reflection: Second Light (Blue Reflection: Tie) Official Soundtrack

Blue Reflection: Second Light is one of my favorite games of 2021, if not one of my favorite games of the past five years. When this sequel was announced, the most important question on my mind was: “Will Hayato Asano be involved?” Thankfully, the answer was yes. Asano composed the entirety of the first game’s soundtrack, and as mentioned above, it’s my favorite soundtrack and remains one of my top ten albums of all time. So, how does the follow-up fare? Quite well.

Blue Reflection: Second Light‘s soundtrack is far better balanced overall. The standout battle tracks are incredible as expected, and Hayato Asano’s mastery of the subgenre is on full display here. However, the overworld and ‘dungeon’ themes are more prominent this time around. They’re calming, yet there’s a slight tension to each of them that simultaneously soothes the player while keeping them on their toes. Blue Reflection: Second Light‘s soundtrack is gorgeous, and it firmly places Hayato Asano as my favorite composer of all time.

The Caligula Effect 2 (Caligula 2) Original Soundtrack

The general concept of the Caligula Effect games revolves around a rogue Vocaloid (see: Hatsune Miku) dragging the consciousnesses of traumatized humans into a virtual world. In said world, independent producers who utilize these Vocaloids to create music serve as the game’s antagonists. Thus, with those two things in mind, it’s pretty much required that the soundtrack should be composed by a slew of electronic music producers. So, how did the music, especially in the sequel, turn out? Incredible on every front.

In each of The Caligula Effect 2‘s dungeons, the current antagonist’s theme will play on a loop without any vocals. Yet once the battles start, the vocals kick in and the hype skyrockets. The player’s Vocaloid can take over and hijack the music through the battles, adding in their own rendition of the song while the party dishes out damage. After tearing through a dungeon and finding the boss, a special remix of the tracks will play, adding a new flair to an already fantastic collection of songs. The songs are catchy, poppy, exciting, and the lyrical themes fit in perfectly with every part of The Caligula Effect 2‘s pathos.

ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights Original Soundtrack

ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights is hauntingly beautiful in every way. The soundtrack, created by classical music group Mili, creates a chilling soundscape that accurately evokes what feeling “cold” might sound like. The icy piano evokes an oppressive yet lonely feeling through the ambient backing tracks, and this feeling extends to the beginning of boss fights where an inevitable showdown must take place. As the battle rages on and phases change, the beating drums and crawling strings come in and add a dramatic flair to the combat.

Every musical piece in ENDER LILIES feels delicately crafted, created solely to evoke the voiceless feelings of the cold world and its crestfallen inhabitants. The soundtrack is superb on every front, and it works in tandem with every other exceptional element of the game. Mili has expertly managed to manipulate the heartstrings just as masterfully as the strings of their violins.

Des Miller

Des Miller

Des is a reviews editor, writer, and resident horror fan. He has a fondness for overlooked, emotionally impactful, and mechanically complex games - hence his love for tri-Ace and Gust. When he's not spending hours crafting in Atelier or preaching about Valkyrie Profile, he can usually be found playing scary games in the dark. With headphones. As they should be played.