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The Best Video Game Soundtracks of All Time

Image by 11333328 from Pixabay

Soundtracks play a critical role in video games. A well-placed and timed piece of music can add significant tension, awe, or excitement to a game scene. When games first started, they were often silent or utilized heavily computerized sounds that basically screamed, “this is game noise, you’re playing a game”. It kept your brain active and helped you focus on the game, but it didn’t elevate the game to a new level.

But today, it’s totally different. An excellent soundtrack can massively improve how much you enjoy the game. Many gamers will pick their favorite game based on how well the soundtrack added to the gaming experience. And we now live in a world where tsingers cover music from games, and sometimes entire orchestras perform game-music. It’s become an art-form all in itself. So, what are the best soundtracks in gaming history? Now, of course, any list like this is going to be at least partly subjective. Music is just one of those things that speak to different people for different reasons. What we’re trying to say is, don’t get mad if your favorite isn’t on here. With that said, let’s take a look.

Doom

The soundtrack to the original Doom game was designed by Robert Prince, a composer and sound designer. He initially envisioned Doom having an ambient and sensitive soundtrack and only created a metal-themed score to demonstrate it wouldn’t work well. Only, it did work well, incredibly well. The soundtrack managed to match the aggression and brutality of the game perfectly, and players loved it.

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO)

Most gamers, even if you don’t typically play fantasy games, will probably recognize the Skyrim main theme song. In fact, we’ll bet a lot of non-gamers recognize it too, even if they aren’t sure where they heard it.

The iconicness of the Skyrim main theme tune was actually a problem when it came to designing the soundtrack for ESO. In an interview on the topic, ESO composer Brad Derrick said that from the beginning, they knew they didn’t want the game to be the new Skyrim. ESO had to have its own identity, and the music was a big part of that. He said the music of Greymoor has “no specific thematic ties to the music of The Elder Scrolls V”. However, the team still wanted the score to fit into The Elder Scrolls universe. In other words, it had to be different but not so different it seemed out of place.

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Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI is a grand and epic story, and it needed a soundtrack to match. Well, the sound designers pulled it off perfectly. The music in the game received critical and universal acclaim, with some reviewers at the time claiming it was the best video game music ever composed. Some of the tracks, like Terra’s Theme” and “Aria di Mezzo Carattere,” are still popular today and have been performed by orchestras all over the world.

The Last of Us

2013’s The Last of Us was widely praised for being excellent in terms of storytelling, writing, and acting, and rightly so. However, many would argue that it was the score that tied it all together.  The game’s music was nominated for several awards and was widely praised by critics.

The God of War Series

God of War carefully uses an inspiring score to have you rooting for revenge while you adventure through the game. The game uses a combination of Asian instruments and other ethnic instruments to create a unique sound that captured the player’s attention.

Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2

The 2010 game Red Dead Redemption did an incredible job of thrusting you into a western setting and immersing you in it. You really felt like a cowboy while playing, and the soundtrack played a huge part in this. The team utilized western musicians, western instruments, and tracks from old western movies to create the authentic American-West feel. Critics and reviewers loved it! GameSpot’s Justin Calvert called the soundtrack “superb,” and it went on to receive numerous award nominations.

The sound designers brought the same energy to the second game in the series Red Dead Redemption 2, with the game winning Best Soundtrack Album at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. The widely popular song “That’s the Way It Is” was also nominated for Original Song in a Video Game.