A lot of praise about video games has come from the way they get you connected with the world around you. One of the ways they do this is through the use of music. We here at Games love a bit of video game music, and we’ve decided to highlight some games where that music takes the experience from great, to unforgettable. Enjoy!
Devil May Cry Series – Callum Brown
DMC 5, along with being my favourite game of 2019, has one of the best soundtracks ever made. The game features plenty of tracks that get you pumped up and ready to go demon slaying, but what makes it truly unique is how the developers tied the main battle songs to the gameplay. As you get a higher style rank in combat, the more the song progresses, ending with the chorus at the highest rank, and this mechanic motivates you to pull off the craziest combos and makes every fight feel just as intense as the last. Each boss fight also has their own unique song with the same mechanic, and there’s plenty of slow ambient tracks that work perfectly for the more emotional moments in the story. Overall, while DMC 5 is an amazing game, it wouldn’t be the same without its superb soundtrack.
The Witcher 3 – Paige Cockbain
Beautiful soundtracks aren’t especially hard to come by, but a soundtrack which perfectly sets the tone of a game is a diamond amongst coal, and it’s something Witcher 3 did perfectly. We’re looking here at a soundtrack so good I scrambled to the internet after playing it to research what the creative process was – Mikolai Stroinski and Marcin Przybyłowicz are wizards. It ranges from beautiful and haunting, to downright adrenaline inducing when those drums kick in, all with a gritty Slavic energy. I don’t think I can listen to the Hearts of Stone DLC soundtrack without genuine tears of fear welling up in my eyes – and that, my friends, is music with power. Take care on the Path, Witchers.
Kingdom Hearts Series – Peter Reed
The opening songs of the Kingdom Hearts series cannot be understated as musical genius. They set the scene for the magical tour of a series which, although complex in ideas, brings out the inner child in all of us. A mix of Disney charm with Square Enix oomph, they’re never skippable. The music in the rest of the series is equally charming; ‘Roxas’ and ‘Lazy Afternoons’ are tracks which will forever be engrained in childhood, somehow sad, yet bringing a hint of joy every single time.
And let’s not even get on to the menu music. ‘Dearly Beloved’ is perfect. So perfect it opens every single game in the series. If you ever want to feel connected through video game music, Kingdom Hearts is the place to go.
Phoenix Wright Series – Tom Buckland
I’m not going to claim that my choice of soundtrack is sovereign in every way, but I don’t think you can name another gaming soundtrack that can sell a concept so mundane as “lawyer simulator”. Ask any Law student at university and they’ll tell you there is far less drama than what Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney soundtrack manifests in its high-octane and sometimes emotional bops. I’d name every single game as my favourite soundtrack because every single one of them thrusts you into the juridical soap opera that you just can’t get enough. There’s nothing more satisfying than catching one of your witnesses on a slight and that music kicking in. It’ll make you wish you studied Law – but leave it as a wish. It’s not nearly as exciting as the game makes you think.
Super Mario Galaxy – Joe Warner
Super Mario Galaxy’s release marked both a figurative and literal departure for the series, being the first Mario game to be set almost entirely in space. Such a stark departure meant a need to take the soundtrack in an entirely new direction; something Mario, but distinctly more ‘spacey’.
The end result did not disappoint. Galaxy’s soundtrack is actually better described as score, featuring a full orchestra to adequately capture the gravity (pun intended) of the game’s best moments. Otherworldly interpretations of the series’ iconic riffs are rich, impactful and grandiose. Ironically though, despite the full orchestra emphasising the high stakes of a grand interstellar adventure, every single track is surprisingly grounded and always strongly emotional. Simply put, I adore it.
Xenoblade Chronicles – Catherine Lewis
The first Xenoblade was a beautifully executed game all round, but its phenomenal soundtrack really helps set the colossal JRPG apart from just a fun game to a cinematic masterpiece.
Every song perfectly matches the environment or situation on screen, transforming sad cutscenes into tear-jerking sobfests, and cool areas into living art pieces you simply don’t want to leave.
‘Engage the Enemy’ was my favourite, as it truly paints the picture of drama, sorrow and terror (no spoilers), which helps get you invested in the plot and relate to the feelings of the characters.
The battle songs have high energy to pump you up, yet maintain emotion, reminding you of the significance behind your journey and what you’re fighting for. Please play Xenoblade Chronicles.
Shadow of the Colossus – Ash Williams
Believe me, I was very, very tempted to plug Persona 5’s soundtrack on here because it has some of the best tracks I’ve ever heard in a game, but Shadow of the Colossus’s soundtrack, Roar of the Earth, takes the same praise from P5 and applies it to the very core of what makes this game so legendary.
Some of the tracks, like ‘Lakeside’ and ‘Sign of the Colossus’, are hauntingly beautiful, with the sombre vibe reminding you of how alone you really are in this world, while others, like ‘Counterattack’ and ‘In Awe of the Power’, are high-energy battle pieces, heightening the tension as you jump and climb on each of the 16 colossi. They’re so good, you don’t mind if there are repeats, just because of the chance to get to listen to it again.
After a while, they begin to feel synonymous with the particular colossus you’re fighting, to the point where listening to the song back evokes memories of taking down some of the best boss enemies in all of gaming. ‘A Despair-filled Farewell’, for example, will always bring me back to fighting the fifth colossus, Avion, a bird who soars over a mist filled lake. It begins when you jump onto his wings, hurtling through the air and the rain, trying desperately to cling on as he banks and barrel rolls in order to fling you off. The exhilaration I had with that fight was so high and so rewarding, and hearing that particular track brings me back to that point every time I listen.
However, it knows when to keep things light. During some of the game’s more emotional parts, it won’t go over the top. All it takes is a background violin or light piano keys to serve as a perfect accompaniment to the events of that story. That’s what this game gets so right. It’s aware of timing; what sort of music is required for a particular scene or event, and the tracks that accompany them are nothing short of beautiful.
A soundtrack can often be a fitting companion to a game’s overall experience, but SotC’s is woven into the game itself so well that I can’t imagine anything else being in its place. It’s simply that good.