10. Final Fantasy 7
Although perhaps a pretty obvious choice in the series, Final Fantasy 7 has such a strong emotionally sincere soundtrack that’s hard not to love. Not only this but it just understands the intent of the game so well. Barrets fiery but jovial nature is captured through “Barret’s theme” whilst Aerith’s sad introspective emotions are shown through “Aerith’s Theme” in ways that are hard to express with words. As you explore onwards and see the overwhelming yet ultimately optimistic greater world around you Final Fantasy 7’s main theme doesn’t just accompany you, it engulfs you and refuses to let you go even 100 hours later.
The whole journey part of thatgamecompany’s crowning achievement is felt in many spheres. From its story to its visuals to even its music, there are many distinct paths you must go on. “Nascence” the opening track is sombre and foreboding with subtle moments of brightness. This is cast aside with eye-watering lush strings only to fall away as you start your experience. The entire soundtrack fits this motif of sole instruments alone only to be accompanied by the swelling of hundreds of others, mimicking the excellent multiplayer design at its core. It somehow propagates a paradox where you feel alone but never far away from company. Like both your character and the music, there is always an accompaniment to your journey.
Composer Darren Korb has managed to inject a little of himself into every SuperGiant game. From the more acoustic trip-hop Bastion to the eclectic mix that is Pyre, he has shown his ability to fit into many styles. Transistor is perhaps where this is at its most successful. Self-described as “Old-world Electronic Post-rock” its strange mixture of “This will destroy you” style post-rock and heavy electronic sampling result in a soundtrack unlike any other, a perfect accompaniment to one of the best indie titles of the last decade.
7. Bioshock Infinite
It’s hard to understate how truly important the soundtrack of Bioshock Infinite is to the overall experience. As Booker, you sit down anticipating something terrible as the angry trill of violin fills your senses. You brace only to be interrupted by the twinkling of the piano. “Hallelujah.” Every moment, every sound feels so fundamentally thought out from “will the circle be unbroken” reiterating the narrative to the big reveal of “CAGE.” Music is as fundamental to the base experience as the story.
6. Kingdom Hearts
There’s a good chance if you’re between the ages of 20 to 35, you have, at one point in your life, listened to Yoko Shimomura’s “Dearly Beloved” accompanied by the soft glow of your TV being left on. It, like the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, is a formative experience that probably makes you deeply sad to reminisce. Much like the game itself, there is a magic to Shimomura's work that evokes and emblazons nostalgia like no other game out there. Luckily, Kingdom Hearts gives you 100 hours or so at a time to enjoy it.
5. Deadly Premonition
Deadly Premonition’s soundtrack, like the game itself, is weird, jarring and sometimes entirely wrong. Despite all these flaws, it’s incredibly charming and makes the overall gameplay experience much better - always the sign of a good soundtrack. Going from the lazy Sunday afternoon jazz of “Life is Beautiful” to the almost medieval-inspired “The Woods and the Goddess” really captures the captivating nature at the heart of Deadly Premonition. Have a listen and become enthralled.
4. Fallout New Vegas
Every Fallout game has its own charm in regards to their soundtrack. The very first games ambience, the 4th titles movie-style main theme and finally, New Vegas’s country/blues. This late-night cross country radio solidifies the loneliness the courier feels. This is only made better through its comparisons to cowboys and lone wanderers, so to speak, through tracks like “Big Iron” and the sinister double meaning of “Ain’t that a kick in the head.” Fallout is well known for this gritty black humour contrasting overtly happy swing and old country songs with murdering bandits and blasting super mutants. It doesn’t mind how you perform this but it's much cooler with a big iron on your hip.
3. Persona 5
Style. In one word, this is exactly what Persona 5 and its soundtrack manage to nail. Any Persona game or Shoji Meguro soundtrack, for that matter, could place in this list but we’ve gone for Persona 5. From its killer opening tune “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” to its more introspective “beneath the mask” Persona 5 just has this suave self-contained brilliance. Not only is this the case but the games day and night cycle leaves room for different styles and genres and Shoji takes full advantage of this. If you’re looking for a soundtrack to make your life just a little cooler, look no further.
Undertale helped solidify one-man powerhouse, Toby Fox, as a world-class game writer and composer all in one go. This focus on one central creator helped to give Undertale a concrete vision and understanding. The music of Undertale isn’t just a catchy addition, it is Undertale. The nostalgic brightness of “Fallen Down” could fit in with any of Nintendo’s classic soundtracks and hold its own as a simplistic yet heartbreaking “Bop”. This simplicity is entirely thrown out of the window with the iconic “Megalovania” a song that starts out simple only to be imbued with prog and synth-rock sensibilities as it ramps up with a crunchy bass riff and heavy drums. This disparity between songs is something Undertale nails. They feel wildly different yet consistent with the overall feel of the game. Exactly what a good soundtrack should do.
1. Silent Hill 2
Any Akira Yamaoka soundtrack could take this spot but we’ve settled on Silent Hill 2 for its iconic role in gaming history. With influences from classic rock, alt and ambient industrial trip-hop, Silent Hill 2’s soundtrack offers so much depth, both in regards to its music and its themes. The tense existentialism of “Theme of Laura” hits you in the head as a few open chords evolve into a symphony of J rock. The iconic creepiness of “Promise(reprise)” pairs with swelling synthetic violins to imbue it with an innate sense of sadness, something Silent Hill 2 is oh so aware of. This is what makes the soundtrack so fantastic. It isn’t created in a vacuum. It knows when to play it calm and it knows when to explode into a wall of sound helping solidify it as one of the scariest experiences even to this day. Just like the game itself, Silent Hill 2’s soundtrack deserves every bit of praise we can give it.