The importance of music in a game cannot be understated. Sure, it may not be the most important thing as far as the mechanics of a game go, and other aspects such as the visuals or the gameplay itself obviously do take precedent, but a good soundtrack is important for so many other things. Immersion, atmosphere, personality- these are all things that can be either very good or very bad, depending on what kind of music a game has.
We got plenty of good soundtracks in games this year, and here in this feature, we’re going to talk about a few of what we felt were the best of the best, before moving on to give our Best Music of the Year award to the one game that stood tall above all its competitors. So without further ado, here are GamingBolt’s nominees for the best music in a game this year.
An excellent soundtrack is one of the things people expect most from a Persona game, and Persona 5 delivers what is probably the best soundtrack in the series (though we’re pretty sure scores of Persona 3 and 4 fans will be up in arms about this statement). It’s acid jazz brand of music contributes to the game’s incredible sense of style in a major, major way. From nondescript tracks that accompany the most mundane activities in the game to major pieces that play in the background during some of the biggest set piece moments, the music of Persona 5 can make you feel like you’re truly part of the on-screen action like few other games can.
Keiichi Okabe has been composing some brilliant music for the Nier series for a long time now, but he truly outdid himself with Nier: Automata. The game’s music perfectly encapsulates everything good about the game itself- it’s weird, it’s bold, it’s wildly eccentric, and it’s this exact blend of variety that makes it so darn good. Very few soundtracks are capable of making players stop playing and actually put down their controllers, just so they can listen to the music in the background, but Nier: Automata’s soundtrack is definitely that good.
THE EVIL WITHIN 2
A good soundtrack is probably more of a requirement in horror games than it is in any other genre of video games, which is you shouldn’t understate just how good the music in The Evil Within 2 is. In a year where so many games have had some truly excellent music, the quality of The Evil Within 2’s soundtrack has kind of been swept under the rug, and we feel that’s a little unfair. From slow, moody scores that accentuate moments of looming horror and tension to the louder, blaring tracks that make the truly scary moments that much scarier, The Evil Within 2 features some of the best music we’ve heard in a survival horror game in the last few years.
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD
Though it’s used much more sparsely than what you’d expect from a game of this franchise, Breath of the Wild has an incredible soundtrack- one that, rather than being as orchestral as previous Zelda soundtracks, chooses instead to mostly use the piano. It is a soundtrack that is the perfect companion for the kind of game Breath of the Wild is- a game about discovery and exploration, but also a game about fighting against a malevolent, insurmountable evil. From new tracks that will go down as some of the best this series has ever featured to remixes and new takes on fan favourites from previous entries in the series, there’s truly something for everyone here.
There was plenty that Bungie got wrong with Destiny 2, but the one aspect of the game that they managed to nail totally was its soundtrack. It was almost surprising, how good the game’s music was. Destiny 2 is undoubtedly a marked improvement over its predecessor in terms of its narrative and storytelling, and a large part of that boils down to the game’s music. Even during moments that should have fallen flat due to shoddy writing or poorly directed cutscenes, the soundtrack managed to deliver the emotional punches. Destiny 2 continues the long tradition of Bungie games with excellent music.
WINNER- THE EVIL WITHIN 2
This wasn’t an easy to choice to make, but it was one that, after careful deliberation, we just had to go with. The Evil Within 2’s soundtrack isn’t as good as it is because of conventional reasons, such an any particular tracks that stand out in memory or you just can’t stop humming (though there are a few of those in there too). What makes the soundtrack so good is how perfectly is manages to capture the atmosphere, the spirit, the tone of the game. The Evil Within 2 is psychological horror in its purest form, dotted intermittently with in-your-face jumpscares, and throughout the entire ride, the soundtrack does a perfect job of conveying all those things through music. It doesn’t matter whether Sebastian is mourning the loss of someone he knows, or whether he’s fumbling to reload his weapon while a walking nightmare rushes toward him to deal a killing blow, or whether he’s holding his breath and walking through a dark corridor in anticipation of what may or may not be around the corner, the music in The Evil Within 2 captures the game’s mood perfectly the entire time. When a game’s music is as much responsible for building atmosphere as the game itself is, you just know it’s top-notch.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.