This week’s issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine #1803 includes interviews for the upcoming fantasy RPG Metaphor: ReFantazio. The interviewees are the three lead developers from Atlus’ Studio Zero known for their work on the Persona franchise: director Katsura Hashino, character designer Shigenori Soejima, and sound composer Shoji Meguro.
This follows a video interview published during yesterday’s announcement live stream for the game.
The third part of the interview is with sound composer Shoji Meguro, discussing the thought process behind the music’s religious overtones and working with Atlus after his independence in 2021.
What was your approach in composing this game’s music?
Meguro: The music’s composition revolves around “religious music.” However, it’s important to note that I’m not drawing inspiration from real-world religions. Instead, I approached it from the perspective of what kind of music would be appropriate if there were a religion within the world of “Metaphor.” I delved into this approach and explored what kind of music would match that context.
There may be elements reminiscent of chants or hymns, but I’m specifically expressing the religious music within the framework of the game. I wanted to create a unique atmosphere and construct it with a rich and grand orchestral arrangement, while still maintaining a fantasy-like quality.
The music that plays in the first trailer is exactly like that.
Meguro: I have composed orchestral music for the “Persona” series as well, but there the focus was mainly to create scores for events that matched a scene’s timing and direction. This time, I’m looking forward to creating orchestral tracks specifically for in-game BGM (background music) during gameplay! That was my first impression when I was asked to work on the project.
Was this direction your proposal?
Meguro: It was my proposal to use religious music, and Hashino had a request for it to also sound like music playing inside the protagonist’s head. Our ideas complemented each other nicely. Until now, I have often composed music as something “between the player and the world,” but through discussions with Hashino, we are shifting the focus more towards the “world” itself this time. Even the vocals incorporate elements from this world, based on Esperanto.
Did the music composition process go smoothly?
Meguro: It wasn’t that easy… Initially, I tried creating orchestral music with a focus on instruments from the medieval world. But when I had it reviewed by Atlus, they gave me feedback saying it was “too conventional.” Since players expect eccentric musical styles like in the Persona series, they said, “Be more like Meguro-san, as usual” (laughs).
With that in mind, and considering that background, I decided to switch directions and create dark, cool, and upbeat songs without imposing too many restrictions on the instruments used.
I see… hearing that story certainly raises expectations! (laughs)
Meguro: There have been times when I got too carried away, and some tracks ended up feeling like battle music instead of background music for a town. I’m still actively adjusting them.
I’m looking forward to it. By the way… Since your independence in 2021, it’s been a while since you were interviewed as a composer involved with Atlus. Have there been any changes in your approach to work or way of thinking?
Meguro: My relationship with Atlus has shifted from being a company employee to a position where I respond to client requests. However, I’ve always believed that it’s important to express the development team’s vision of the world through music, so in that sense, not much has changed.
On the other hand, I also enjoy having the freedom to interpret and create music according to my own preferences, which is how I composed for the “Persona” series (laughs). But in my current position, I also feel the need to adhere to client requests and not deviate too much… which leads to the feedback of being “too conventional.” But I realized that what Atlus is expecting from me is the “usual strange music” (laughs), so I’ll do my best this time as well. Please look forward to it.
Metaphor: ReFantazio will be released worldwide in 2024 for the Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, PS4, PS5, and Steam.