Now that we’ve hit 2016 (happy new year everyone!), it’s time for one final look back at 2015. We’ve had a look at my favourite games of the year, so instead I thought we’d look at some of the best video game music that was on offer. As it’s obviously much easier to play a 1-2 hour soundtrack than traipse around (albeit excellent on occasion) a game world for 30-40 hours, there’s a much bigger pool of games to pick from; some are games that just missed the cut, others are ones I’ve only heard the soundtrack to. There were a lot of excellent music this year to accompany what I believe to be the best year in games since 2011, and as usual I’ve picked a selection of pieces from their OSTs for my next VGM playlist.
One score that stood out head and shoulders above the rest this year was Jessica Curry’s work for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. The soundtracks dovetails perfectly with your voyage around the quintessential British country-bumpkin town, providing a stirring background to your discoveries, but it also stands up to scrutiny in its own right – the choral pieces are powerful, emotional and performed with care. It’s a shame the UK chart system’s backwards rules had this struck from their official classical rankings because it most certainly deserved to be there.
Of course, there were many other soundtracks which stood out this year. One of the reasons Undertale eventually won out my best games of 2015 was down to its almost impeccable soundtrack, a great mix of retro 8 and 16-bit styling combined with more modern elements. Toby Fox’s achievements are only more impressive once you realise that it wasn’t just the soundtrack he wrote, it was the entire game. Other composers continued to show why they’re top of their field too; Austin Wintory took the helm for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, breathing new life into the music of the series, Jason Graves proved why he’s the go-to guy for horror with a tense, atmospheric and at time beautiful soundtrack for Until Dawn and Tomoya Tomita once again demonstrated his talents for colourful and catchy melodies with Yoshi’s Wolly World. Masayoshi Soken also continued where he left off with FF XIV: A Realm Reborn with some brilliant pieces – Primal themes are often musical highlights in-game but Ravana’s theme really does showcase his talent, starting off with a waltz and then graduating to a tribal war theme with hints of Rammstein.
There was also a wealth of brilliant music to indie titles this year including Gareth Coker’s poignant work for Ori and the Blind Forest and some fantastic ancient Greece-inspired pieces from Marios Aristopoulos during Apotheon, a game with possible the best combined music and art direction of the year. Elsewhere, Dan Rodrigues upbeat soundtrack really helped Runbow to establish itself as one of the Wii U’s best local multiplayer games, and Chris Schlarb added a few more feathers to his cap thanks to a varied and often times jolly accompaniment to Dropsy the clown’s very friendly adventure
To finish it all off, I must mention the fantastic selection of music that Life is Strange brought together. Maybe it’s the 2000s indie-kid inside me, but the choices made for the backing music really enriched the story and were utilised at just the right point in the story to be effective. The game’s dialogue may have felt a bit off kilter at times in each episode but the music never faltered.
So that was 2015. What game soundtrack really hit home to you or is there something that I’ve embarrassingly left off my playlist? Let me know in the comments!