Gamers always talk about the same things. Graphics and gameplay. And as well, they should, those are the things that video games revolve around. How well is the world set up? How believable is it? Do the graphics pull you in or are they jarring and make it feel too much like a game? But what one will notice when they spend time with gamers is, only the most hardcore gamers seem to notice game soundtracks and how important and integral they are to the truly immersive world of video games. The scores pull you in, amp up tension when it is needed most, and sometimes turn scary and foreboding to let you know trouble is coming.
Here, for your consideration, the 6 best video game soundtracks of all time.
Legend of Zelda (Original)
What? An old chip-tune game soundtrack is on this list amid symphonic scores and chanting monks? Yes, and the reason is simple. Video game soundtracks would not sound like they did today if Zelda hadn’t done it all first and done it so memorably. Hell, even bands like System of a Down play the Zelda theme at their shows.
Much like Mario before it, it showed gamers that a decent score could seriously affect just how epic the game felt.
Silent Hill 2
While the sound design in the Silent Hill series is some of the best in gaming, it was Silent Hill 2 that really showed us what composer Akira Yamaoka can do. Mixing the alluring aspect of unidetifiable sounds with a sweet, haunting symphonic score that will never leave your mind, even after you finish playing this mindf*ck of a game.
Please note, music in 3 and 4 are just as good. Room of Angel being an overall highlight when it comes to individual tracks.
What indie game Bastion does so well is that it doesn’t try to make the gamer feel like you are standing in front of an over-produced choir. Bastion uses its music and narrator to make it sound more small, intimate, real.
This, when matched with the narrator’s calming tones as he recites all that you are doing, and it hits you that you are playing a game that uses score and soundtrack to maximum effect (which always improves the game as well).
Deus-Ex: Mankind Divided
Here we have a more modern score that shows you the power a minimal score can have. Wait, what do I mean? Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s main theme is not bashed over the gamer’s heads until they have it stuck in their mind by default. It just hums back there, quitely, burrowing into your brain like an ear worm.
Rather, the reason Mankind Divided works so well is it almost sounds like subtle music put inside your own skull (like an augment in the game). It is electronic, but does not feel like music hammered out on a keyboard. It feels like what this game world looks like: Subtle and sleek. A great example that a score for a big game can still be huge and humble at the same time.
I know ALL Grand Theft Auto games deserve to be on this list, because they do. Some might even say San Andreas or Vice City has a better soundtrack, but I can tell you why they are wrong and 5 is the best.
Because GTA 5 was the first time the company also had an actual original score recorded (as oppose to JUST using licensed songs). This resulted in some very cinematic moments in the newest GTA where the new score made it feel like you were in some scene in a movie, flying your chopper away from some heinous crime.
But, outside of that, Vice City owns. Real talk.
Sorry, but few scores can grab you and make you feel as badass as the Skyrim soundtrack does. From the way it heightens during intense moments to that initial score that plays during the loading screen with the chants, Skyrim might be the one game where the soundtrack is just truly an essential tool to making this world you are in feel real.
Add to that the power of the sound design (from the roar of the dragons to the sound of the your sword clanging against a shield) it is all fantastically immersive and ends up being one of the greatest video game soundtracks ever created.
Few can argue with that.