The top ten best game soundtracks ever
Posted by Chris at 15:26 on 05 Dec 2013
Am I imagining things or is music starting become a bit more of a big deal in games? I mean like actual music, too, not just effects and a catchy theme, but soundtracks commissioned for a game in the same way one would be for a film.
The technology allowing for more space being given over to the audio has led to a bit of a shift in the way soundtracks are thought about when it comes to games. They can often be as much a part as the graphics are or the story is, feeding into an enhancing the experience in a way that simply never used to be possible.
That's not to play down the achievements of games of yore mind, as it's not fair to compare the two. But game soundtracks now are something I actually listen to on their own merits, even divorced from the games and what they're representing. It also helps that I like instrumental music.
So here's a list, a glorious list, because that's what the internet is for - so all of mankind's knowledge, history and achievements can be condensed down into vacuous, endlessly churned-out top 10s of things in stuff or stuff in things or things I'd like to see in stuff or dooberrys in whatchamacallits or things that might be in stuff that are good or bad or funny or might be good or might be bad or interesting or boring or something. What? Culture!
I haven't listened to all game soundtracks. I haven't even listened to most game soundtracks. In fact, I've barely listened to any. But here are some I like. Relax, it'll all be over soon.
Yeah I've not played 2012's GotY. Sorry about that. I want to but despite my demeaning begging no one will give me a PS3 for free so that hasn't happened. But anyway, the soundtrack's pretty damn good. I'm listening to it now in fact. It tells a story even without the context of the game; it has that wistful, yearning, desolate, exploratory feel to it. Actually, it sounds like a... like a Journey. Oh my.
... Yeah, I've not played Bastion. Sorry about that. I wanted to, I basically bought the Humble Bundle when this was part of it just for Bastion but it turned out it doesn't run on my crappy five-and-a-half-year-hyphen-old-laptop. Dang.
I love the groove (groove? Deary me) to this album. Moreso than perhaps any other game soundtrack I've ever heard there are songs on here that I wouldn't be all together too surprised to hear on the radio. Well, if more than a couple of them had lyrics anyway. There's a great dichotomy (dichotomy? Jesus) between the Wild West vibe (vi- oh forget it) and more of an Eastern influence but the continued presence of the driving basslines and pounding drums mean I can't keep myself from nodding along.
Nope, not played this either. Sorry about that. I want to but yaddayaddayadda I just haven't alright. Sheesh, get off my case already. I do really like Disasterpiece's music though.
I like eletronica but I'm really not one of those "Yeeaaaah bro, CHIPTUNES, sick" kinda people (although I do love Quinton Sung's Radiohead arrangements - why has no one made a game for these yet?). Chiptunes are good when they're musical. Like any music really. The genre or instruments are unimportant when the quality of the music is actually there, when the melody is good, the atmosphere strong, the sounds affecting and that's exactly what's going on in Fez. It ebbs and it flows, it's chirpy, at times verging on ambient, occasionally foreboding, sometimes lonely, losing its way slightly here and there but it's good.
Well this is a turn up for the books, a game I have actually played. This falls into the same 'chiptunes music is good music when the music is actually good' category that Fez does while having the same driving rhythms that makes Bastion such a foot tapper. In fact, it does a pretty good job of putting itself between those two albums, taking up residence in the space between Fez's floaty electronica and Bastion's dirty rock. I really like it. The game too. You should play it.
There's some real loveliness to be found in Braid's music. It reminds me somewhat of Journey's music although with a slightly less coherent and defined narrative to it, which is probably reflective of the games themselves. That's not to say Braid is meandering or directionless (because it's anything but), but that Journey's tale is so focused, with so clear and strong an identity, probably lends itself a bit more to a cohesive soundtrack.
Kentucky Route Zero
Yeah, there's only four pieces used in Act I, three of them ambient and the other a Woody Guthrie cover but they're all really good. KRZ relies so heavily on atmosphere and tone and each of these plays a large part in helping to enhance that. People who don't like ambient music would never listen to this by itself but I do and this is my list so krup you.