Before I even heard this album, I was comfortable making the following conclusion: Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Original Soundtrack vol.2 is better than the first volume. After listening, I can confirm it. However, I didn’t realize how much better it would be—which is to say, it was a significant improvement over Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Original Soundtrack. Before getting into the content of this album, though, I’d like to address why this album is categorically different and better than its counterpart.
As noted in both my 2019 soundtrack review and 2021 game review of Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, the title launched with six original compositions, a handful of new and exclusive arrangements from previous titles, plus padding with existing versions of songs from previous games and albums. In other words, it was a “best of” album with some new content sprinkled in, with a total run-time of 50 minutes. Not cool, my friends. Not cool. And yes, the new compositions were good, but they weren’t Kenji Ito’s best.
Compare that to vol.2! First of all, not a single repeat of previous material. Given the hundreds of tracks used in this mobile game, either from previous OSTs or previous arrange albums, it would have been tempting to sprinkle more “best of” into this album. Mercifully, they did not. Second, we have eight original compositions from Kenji Ito, and they stand head and shoulders above the first volume’s originals! “Igomahl the Harlequin” and “Shadow of Doubt” are my favorites, both featuring interesting vocal work in that the vocals are more decorative than central to these pieces. “Entrance: When Stars Align” is another solid piece, with orchestral arrangements from Yohei Kobayashi helping to build on Ito’s source composition. This piece plays in-game at the main “hub” screen, so it gets a lot of air time for those playing this surprisingly high-quality mobile RPG. It’s a fitting “home base” theme if ever there was one.
Then, folks, there are the new arrangements. These aren’t phoned-in synth-upgrade arrangements akin to what we heard in the first volume. Nor are they pulled directly from recent arrange albums like SaGa Frontier Series Acoustic Arrangements or DESTINY 8, great as they are. No, the seven arranged tracks are new and wonderful in themselves. The new arrangement from Minako Seki for “Podol” (a town theme from Romancing SaGa 3) is a winter miracle. Vocals are central to this arrangement, transforming it into an entirely new experience. Tsutomu Narita’s arrangement of the final battle theme from The Final Fantasy Legend is a solid synth rock arrangement, distinct from other recent rock arrangements of this classic Uematsu track. Narita even adds a third original section to the theme, significantly expanding the song’s length without losing any of the energy.
Another new arrangement borrowing from the arranger’s work elsewhere is Yohei Kobayashi’s rendition of “Alone” from SaGa Frontier. Kobayashi also arranged this one for Orchestral SaGa and utilized his work from that orchestral arrangement in this version for Re;univerSe. However, the decidedly upbeat and jazzy approach to this arrangement isn’t present in the orchestral version. The framing of the arrangement also makes for a neat loop, which suits the game well, making it a nice version for an OST release.
My only complaint about this album is its length. Or, rather, the unnecessary packaging. At nearly 70 minutes, it’s longer than the first volume and packed with entirely new content, so that’s great! But the physical version comes as a 2-CD set. This seems unnecessary and unwieldy. The album is also improperly sorted. You’d expect the first disc to be the arrangements and the second disc to be the original compositions, but the first disc has two of the eight original tracks. I do not understand the purpose of the partitioning.
Whether it’s the physical or digital version, you’re still getting 15 tracks of pure SaGa awesomeness, and none of it is re-purchasing previously released content. The questions left in my mind, having continued to play the game: when will Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe Original Soundtrack vol.3 arrive, will it be physical or digital-only, and what fun arrangements might it feature? Time will tell, but given the content thus far in the game’s “Liam Arc” story, one imagines there will be quite a bit of SaGa Frontier music!