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25 Best gaming soundtracks of all time

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Music is a wonderful tool for expressing emotion, telling a story or to simply get your head moving back and forth. Whether it be distorted riffs, subtle synth keys or an entire orchestra, we can't understate the importance of music on the way we see a game. So with that in mind, we've rounded up the 25 best gaming soundtracks of all time, and you can even listen to them via this Spotify playlist we've put together. 

25. Pokemon Gold / Silver

(Image credit: GameFreak)

There's a good chance that if you've been a pokemon fan for a while, its soundtrack has meant a few distinctly different things throughout your life: The anticipation of that Gameboy Jingle, the awe of hearing actual pokemon noises, the nostalgia of hearing old games and that dread of getting older. This works as a testament to both the game itself and you. Whether it comes from the scary tale behind Lavender town(originally from Blue/Red but still in Gold/Silver) or that nostalgic optimism imbued throughout every second of National Park, Pokemon has and will always offer a wonderful escape that gets further away with each second. 

24. The Last of Us

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Argentinian composer Gustavo Santaolalla is well known for his film compositions and The Last of Us(and its sequel The Last of Us 2) take full advantage of this. Where songs like “The Path” offers a melancholic travel song, “Vanishing Grace” announces the very short brevity The Last of Us can possibly allow it. In this sense  “The last of us” offers this dichotomy of the darkness of its melody and the brightness of its accompaniment in an interesting way that directly parallels the story itself. Together, broken chords and dissonant melodies appear strong and almost hopeful but alone, they appear to be what they are, broken. 

23. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

(Image credit: The Chinese Room)

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a powerful game that expresses and sings emotions and feelings that are hard to explain. It fits so meaningfully into the themes and stories of the game that to remove them should take away some of their power. Somehow it does not. Opening song “All the Earth” strikes you by the second note with a piercing howl of emotions only to be accompanied by the low rumble of a drone and strings as it teases the melody at its centre. It follows and folds around this melody with wonderful countermelodies and additional voices in “Finding the Pattern” only to be stripped away and built back up again. Much like the soundtrack, the game itself follows this idea of getting to the root of something only for it to fall away in your fingers. “I don’t know if anyone will ever hear this. It’s all over. I’m the only one left”.

22. Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy

(Image credit: Namco)

It might be a bit of a cliche but sometimes a prince just has to suck up the world, universe and everything greater to impress his father, the King of All Cosmos. Katamari Damacy somehow manages to tell this story through the hour or so of music it has. “Katamari Nah-Nah” starts with a wonderfully weird acapella that probably helps brace you for the game in front of you until “Katamari on the rocks” blows that out of the water with the more fleshed-out version of this same song, complete with electronic drums and synth. It’s not always this fast-paced with songs like “Walking on a Star” giving an oddly pretty break from the hectic world that is Katamari Damacy. Much like that of an actual star and the cosmos, the idealism of its existence is enough to ground all those who look at it. You exist and nothing expresses this greater than the human minds behind Katamari Damacy.

21. NieR: Automata

(Image credit: Square Enix)

There is something often very subtle about the way lead composer Keiichi Okabe put together Nier Automata’s soundtrack. It is loaded with small yet incredibly pretty pieces that might be skipped on the first 3 or so playthroughs. Luckily Automata is meant to be played over and over again. From the gentle yet anthemic guitar and vocal accompaniment in “City Ruins” to the over the top “Grandma/ Destruction” Automatas willingness to change at the drop of a hat is something that works very well for its overall presentation. Despite this, it stays consistently beautiful through its use of vocal performances and melancholic piano. Rather fitting for such an emotionally charged game.

Turn to the next page for more of our best gaming soundtrack picks...