Shin Megami Tensei -Digital Devil Saga 2- Original Soundtrack
Shin Megami Tensei -Digital Devil Saga 2- Original Soundtrack
October 4, 2005
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In Atlus tradition, the American release of Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 was accompanied by a one disc soundtrack release. The game world changed drastically compared to the first game and the music has also changed to reflect that. Gone are the atmospheric, sad, gloomy pieces oozing with jazz and emotion, and in their place are more upbeat, transformative pieces full of life, but still with the edgy, industrial style. The bonus compiles most of the important themes from the game into a single disc while omitting most of the less enjoyable event themes present on the full release Shin Megami Tensei -Digital Devil Saga- 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack Integral. Note that the track names between the two releases often radically differ. Let’s take a closer look at the offerings…
Although most of the major themes can be found, the track listings are quite jumbled on this album, with battle themes tending to headline the release and other tracks slotted inbetween. This is quite awkward at first, but the album becomes more cohesive as it progresses, so it isn’t a giant problem. The soundtrack’s peculiar opener “Battle for Survival” keeps many of the familiar battle elements of Digital Devil Saga such as the drum kit and guitar melodies, but enhances them with truly frantic synth work in the background. When you listen to this track on its own, it provides far too much energy to listen to it without having it become boring, but in the game itself, it works quite well. “Madness” sounds very much like it’s name, and takes the frantic approach of the synth in the previous track to a whole new level. Everything in this track sounds like the speed has been randomly turned up to eleven, while a simple piano and guitar melody makes its way through the mess of synth.
“Hunting – Betrayal” slows things down a bit into a piece with quite a bit of funk — and it might sound a bit familiar, since it’s the battle theme from the first game only totally redesigned. I really like this rendition of it, because the synth elements add so much more to the already cool theme. “Epic Battle” also starts things off slow, but quickly jumps into speed when the synth elements are introduced. With far too many wailing guitars, this one gets quite noisy a little too quickly, but again, this is a situation where the track sounds and works much better in the game than on its own. The melody elements of this one however are quite interesting, taking a hint from “Hunting” by mixing synth and guitars together in a melody. Note that the names of “Epic Battle” and “Heroic Battle” were switched around between the American and Japanese releases. “Man Hunting”, on the other hand, is an entirely synth driven track, with a low saw-tooth melodic pattern, accompanied by heavy techno beats and light guitar work. This piece is extremely repetitive, but it doesn’t try to be more than what its made of, which gives the track its real sense of funk.
Some of the core themes from the game still made it. The vocal theme “Alive” is discluded, but that is probably a good thing, since it is hyper-happy J-Pop at its most generic. “Om Mani Padme Hm” leads the way as one of the game’s main themes, although it would have been better as the opener. It bears many similarities to “Never Ending Rain” in its composition and melodic style, mirroring the piano and string combination, with some of the same chord work. But on the whole, this piece gives a sense of hope, where “Never Ending Rain” was more sadness. I’ll likely touch more on this piece later on in the review with other tracks. Once again, some of the other more emotional tracks from the original release that were cut, most notably the piano and strings track “Seraph”. At least “Inherent Will” made it at the centre of the soundtrack, a softer, slower, piano track with synth beds. Light strings appear in the piece, adding to the emotional piano melody — something that wavers between sadness and true despair. The second half of this piece totally drops away, while the piano melody becomes the focus. This builds to a powerful conclusion where the piano extends into the foreground, supported by strings and brass. This piece accompanies some of the most powerful and emotional cut scenes in the game, and its overall sound is certainly appropriate.
“Prison Break” (aka “Prisoner’s Nightmare”) is a highly upbeat track, driven by a fast percussive line with tons of cymbals. The familiar guitar chord work is back, along with fast-paced panicked techno elements. Light strings also pop in and out during the track, extending their influence into the already tense piece. In the game, this piece does a wonderful job at energizing the player into recognizing the threat in the area. “EGG Facility”, named “Egg of the Universe” in the Japanese release, is a techno area theme making use of heavy synth and techno elements. The background of the piece is incredibly repetitive, but the foreground is what draws my interest. A powerful, celesta and vibraphone melody plays overtop of the techno elements, creating a wonderful contrast to the beat pattern and techno synth. “Divine Identity” (aka “Brahman”) is the final boss music of this game, and it doesn’t hold a candle to “Hari-Hara”. The piece doesn’t try to be very different from the other battle themes on the album, except for a more intricate piano and string melody that becomes paired with a guitar later in the track. The synth elements bother me a little, if only because they seem to create the sense of urgency for the battle, rather than the rest of the instrumentation providing it. Overall it isn’t a bad theme; I would have simply liked to have more of a contrast to the other battle themes
The conclusion of the original score is relatively intact. “One Word” is a piano and synth driven piece with light string work. Overall, it is a wonderful track for the final scenes in the game, particular at the end where the entire piece shifts into a melody full of hope. This transitions into “The Rising Sun,” which begins a bit on the quiet side, with light brass, drums, and a bass line. It continues the hopeful melody throughout the piece, into a section that feature a more prominent guitar melody, before being joined by strings and a rock organ. This drops away to just the piano, which completes the melody with a very pleasant finish that leads… Into the credits! I have to say, this is one of the coolest credit transitions I’ve ever seen in a game. The piano of the previous track fades away into funky acoustic guitar strums, shakers, rock organ, and drum kit. Throughout this piece, the strings work with the brass, organ, and acoustic guitars to create a seamless transition between melodies. At the chorus, the electric guitars come in, but the focus remains on the brass and strings, while the rest of the instrumentation keeps the track moving. This is one of those tracks that can’t help but make you smile as you listen, because its has so many interesting elements.
As a bonus with the game, the Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga 2 Original Soundtrack is pretty satisfying. Most of the important themes are featured and the music tends to sustain one’s interest. Although it is arguably an advantage that this package was incomplete, some will want some of the extras on the Shin Megami Tensei -Digital Devil Saga- 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack Integral, such as “Seraph”, “Alive”, and even a few event themes. The biggest problem, however, is the somewhat jumbled presentation and bias towards the battle tracks. Again, this package should suffice for most, although completists might want to consider the full release as well.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andre Marentette. Last modified on January 17, 2016.