If you’ve played a video game of any sort, you’ll understand how big a part the soundtrack plays in the whole game experience.
From your first adventure, to your first boss battle, and up to you winning the whole game — the video game’s music is sort of the sidekick that follows you around, there to celebrate your successes and console you in your losses. Without music to spice up every new world, the game isn’t quite the same.
The power of video game music is clear when the tune sticks with the player, long after he’s finished playing the game. This lasting effect of a game’s soundtrack prolongs the experience for the player, sort of bringing a piece of the game into the real world.
Today, we are sharing some video games which have outstanding soundtracks that bring their respective gameplays to the next level. There are a lot of great options to choose from, so it was difficult to narrow down the list to 8 of our favorites. From electric guitar riffs, to orchestral melodies, to futuristic beats, this list covers all the bases and then some.
Consoles ready, headphones in, and get ready to press play.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004)
Platforms: Playstation 2 & 3, Xbox, Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS
Even non-video gamers know about the cultural icon that is the Grand Theft Auto franchise. This open-world shooter game is one of the most popular video game franchises ever — behind only giants like Super Mario and Pokemon — and it has revolutionized gaming in many ways, like paving the way for 3D and immersive graphics.
In terms of soundtrack, all GTA titles are scored with great songs, but we have to give a special mention to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which took car radio to a whole new level. There are a total of eleven stations to choose from in-game, with a wide variety of genres like classic rock, reggae, hip-hop, and house music. Choose from over 100 licensed songs to be your soundtrack as you drive around the streets of the West Coast.
Remember Me (2013)
Platforms: Playstation 2, Xbox 360, Windows PC
In Remember Me, you follow Nilin, a lost woman who had most of her memories removed by the Memorize Corporation, as she attempts to recover those memories back. As you go across the dystopian world of future Paris, the video game’s electronic soundtrack is like a character in itself, continuously evolving as Nilin regains her memories one by one.
In the beginning, the beats are glitchy and fragmented, little bits and pieces scattered throughout the gameplay. But as you reach the final battle, you’ll hear the game’s full main theme in all its glory. The blend of futuristic notes to heart-pumping orchestral music is practically seamless and a work of technological genius.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011)
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
The fourth installment of the commercially successful Assassin’s Creed franchise, Revelations continues with the storyline of its three protagonists in different historical timelines and locations, from 12th-century Masyaf to 16th-century Constantinople. Much like the time-bending plot of Revelations, its soundtrack is also the product of a successful marriage of different eras.
Created by legendary scorers Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe, Revelations’ soundtrack is simultaneously ancient and futuristic, traditional and modern, sinister and optimistic. And never does it go sideways nor sound wrong. Every tune, despite being many things at once, sits perfectly well with the story’s progression.
Bioshock: Infinite (2013)
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Mac
Bioshock: Infinite follows the story of Booker Dewitt and his relationship with Elizabeth as they topple the corrupt government of Columbia, a floating city-state in the sky. This highly stylized, steampunk first-person shooter is widely acclaimed for its story and impeccable art style, and its musical score is what puts this already-great game to one of the best.
Infinite’s soundtrack is spare but effective, emulating the simple instrumentation of the game’s 1912 setting. Instead of a full orchestra, the game opts for small and intimate string ensembles to create a much more emotionally driven score. They definitely were successful in that regard, proven by numerous accolades and players heartbroken after the game.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Platforms: Nintendo 64, GameCube
Much like other installments in the Legend of Zelda series, in Ocarina of Time, you control Link in his quest of saving Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule from the evil demon Ganon. But even with its similarities with its predecessors, it is clear why Ocarina of Time is considered one of the best video games — not only of the franchise but of all time.
Aside from having detailed gameplay and trailblazing graphics for its time, Ocarina of Time is highly praised for its music. More than just immersive background sounds, music plays an integral role in the gameplay. Players need to learn to play several songs with the ocarina to win the game. Even with the limited scale of five notes on the instrument, Ocarina of Time is able to make natural and immersive soundscapes.
Platforms: PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox 360, Wii U, Windows PC
There’s nothing quite like Bayonetta both in terms of character and soundtrack. This sexy hack and slash video game stars Bayonetta as the titular character, a beautiful shape-shifting witch that can summon demons from her hair to fight her enemies. As you battle it out in the glorious cityscapes of Europe, think about an irreverent saxophone and piano serenade that play to your every attack.
If that’s not enough to capture your interest, the Bayonetta soundtrack contains Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me To The Moon” reimagined into a jazzy J-pop tune. It’s a crazy mix, but something about it feels like it was meant to sound like this in the first place.
Platforms: Playstation 3 & 4, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS
2D fighting games are rarely scored with much attention or creativity, but that is where Skullgirls shines the most aside from its stylish animation and character design. Pick amongst a strong roster of female fighters as you battle it out to earn the Skull Heart and grant your wishes. All your fighting is soundtracked by haunting themes, perfect to fit Skullgirls’ dark deco style.
But do not think about the stereotypical music you associate with a haunted house. The gothic soundscape of Skullgirls is spiced up by upbeat rock and jazzy influences. There’s no such thing as too much saxophone, and the Skullgirls’ musical score has all of it.
Nier: Automata (2017)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC
Nier: Automata is a combination of multiple things meshed into a cohesive whole, blending together seamlessly without us knowing why. This can be seen in its gameplay, a hack and slash combat game with an ambitious storyline, but is combined with other game elements like shoot ‘em up and text adventure.
The same bold combinations are also true for Automata’s soundtrack. For something set so far into the future, the game does not go towards the obvious futuristic themes but opts for a more classical and retro mechanical sound in both the soft and hard tracks. There’s an overwhelming melancholy that envelops all the tracks from Automata, which really sets the tone for the whole of Automata’s gameplay.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Which video game soundtracks do you think belong on our list? Share them with us by commenting down below.