Yhorm the giant
2. No man's sky
Rip and Tear
Flesh and Metal
2. Pokemon Sun & Moon ; Man I didn't even play this game but Pokemon soundtracks are always awesome and this one doesn't disappoint.
Solgaleo & Lunala
3. World of WarCraft: Legion ; For such a supremely popular game that has been active for well over a decade, I've always found WoW's OST to be under-appreciated. I presume it is because after a while, people turn off the sound and listen to a podcast or watch TV - which I do as well.
Viz'aduum/Top of Karazhan I don't think this track has a name.
Relentless/The Burning Legion Theme
Honorable Mention - Street Fighter V ; This gets a mention just for RA-SHI-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
2. final fantasy 15
2. Oxenfree - mainly for this
Honorable Mentions: No Man's Sky, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dark Souls 3
Street Fighter V
While I initially didn't like this soundtrack earlier this year at launch, the newer tracks that have been included via the Story Mode and DLC character updates have quickly changed my mind. I was of the opinion that the newer Capcom fighters should really just do more original music since they do such an inconsistent job at remixing older themes, and Street Fighter V doesn't at all change my mind on this stance. But the newer tracks (of which there are now more of than at launch) easily make up for this, and hey, there are still some great remixes as well in Cammy, Karin and Ken's themes. While it's not as consistent as my other pick, as there were tracks on here I actively disliked (like Juri and Laura's themes), I found SFV to be a strong case of the great (tracks) outweighing the bad.
Hillside Plaza Stage
Lair of the Four Kings
Kanzuki Beach Stage
King of Fighters XIV
While the soundtrack for KOF14 didnt hit quite the same highs for me, I think this game still had a fun, consistent little soundtrack. In my opinion, it just does a far better job of balancing new tracks, throwback tracks (Saxophone Under The Moon, Tiger & Dragon) and actual remixes (Seoul Road, Soy Sauce for Geese). It also does a better job (for me) at being varied and I just really appreciate that it doesn't play it as safe as SFV (which, by comparison, remixed Guile's theme twice)
Saxophone Under The Moon
Survivors Under The Sky
A couple years back I decided to start exploring other genres of rock music. I found the post-rock genre, and today it is my favorite genre. I never really got into 65daysofstatic - mainly because I prefer less electronic influences - but there is no doubt this stuff is insanely good. It made me curious to see if any of the other post-rock groups I enjoy - like If These Trees Could Talk, Lost in the Riots, or Overhead, The Albatross - could create something for a game.
THUMPER is one of my favorite games in a long time, possibly ever, so I really wanted to give this the number one spot. But, like the game, the soundtrack is very dark, ominous, and almost anxiety inducing, which doesn't lend itself to everyday listening. I'm a huge fan of certain veins of progressive rock and there are plenty of progressive ideas here, whether they be complex, syncopated rhythms or unorthodox time signatures. The organic way the cacophonic chaos combines with the visual experience creates a hellish experience I won't soon forget.
Carpenter Brut, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Lorn, Scattle, Waveshaper, Kn1ght
The Toxic Avenger - My only chance
Carpenter Brut - You're mine
Waveshaper - You are the end
As I child of the 80s, I always had a soft spot for New Wave, electronic genres, and old-school gaming soundtracks. Furi combines all those things brilliantly, and the energetic mix of tracks really compliments the hectic, difficult style of the game.
FE Awakenings OST was pretty solid and was a highlight in that game so naturally I was pretty excited to hear more of Fates when it was announced but boy, they really exceeded my expectations. They do a really good job of differentiating the music between the different versions and really capture the essence of feudal japan/medivaly Europe. It's all around just wonderful and impactful and I always find myself humming the main theme of the game. I really need to get the 6 CD OST pack they have in Japan soon! I'm sure these have been posted already but I'll just post them again.
Thorn in You
2. Pokemon Sun/Moon
This was a surprise hit for me. X/Y left a sour taste in my mouth (they had such boring and slow gym/elite 4 battle themes!) so I was a bit hesitant to hear the new stuff but after loading up the demo and hearing the jolly/relaxing vibes... I was hooked. The whole Hawaiian theme really helps set the tone of the game and instantly sets it apart from the other games in the series. Give it a listen!
Iki Town Day
Kukui Pokemon Lab
Hau'oli City (Night)
3. Final Fantasy XV
Yoko Shimomura. I mean that's all I really have to say right? Okay but really she's a very talented composer and I've loved pretty much all of her work in the RPG genre, from Radiant Historia to Kingdom Hearts. FFXV is no different. I'm sure the entirety of the soundtrack will be posted in this thread so I won't bother but it's really good!
2. Street Fighter V ; This might be my favorite Street Fighter soundtrack ever, has many of my now favorite renditions of classic character themes along with lots of great new ones.
3. Dark Souls III ; From's Soulsborne games have always had very strong scores and I believe that Dark Souls III's is the best of them all. Has a nice mix of epic orchestral stuff to get your blood pumping and more haunting melodies to tug at your soul.
2. Bravely Second: End Layer
3. Granblue Fantasy
I actually bounced off this game pretty hard (keep in mind, I played before the 60fps patch) but the soundtrack kept me going. The music here did a far better job of wordless storytelling than the messy pixel art paintings ever did, with a pervasive sense of melancholy and wonder. It often reminds me of G A S or early Aphex Twin. The album is still in heavy rotation at home.
2. No Man's Sky
I hesitated to put this on here because as far as in-game usage goes, No Man's Sky utterly wastes this soundtrack. The score was released a few days before the game, and I had high hopes for tracks like Asimov - only to discover that the actual bulk of the soundtrack wasn't in the game at all or clumsily piped in during the game's few narrative moments. I was utterly dumbfounded when the aforementioned track was played, very quietly, as I flew into a space station for the first time. What the fuck?
Normally this sort of misuse would disqualify it from being on my list, but this album is so good I really can't ignore it. It ebbs and flows from ambient to active, with gorgeous crescendos that somehow manage to stay captivating and tasteful without ever falling into melodramatic cheese like so much post-rock has ever since its golden era.
I typically fucking hate djent and even I love BFG Division. Doom's soundtrack works for the same reason Doom's story does: it has a sense of humor. The music in this game is so ridiculous you can't help but smile and play along. This isn't the metal video game soundtrack I want, but I'm still stoked to see people on here and on Twitter and whatnot getting excited about this score. I can only hope it acts as a gateway metal album for many.
Honorable mention for Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero, which is a lovely soundtrack too.
2. I am Setsuna - love the piano OST, Eternal Winter and Songs in The Wind for instane are great tracks.
3. The Last Guardian
4. Dark Souls III
[Honorable Mention: Final Fantasy XV]
That this soundtrack didn’t take home the gold for me is a mild personal disappointment. My beef with it is that while about a quarter of the soundtrack is very good, the rest of it just doesn’t impress. There are too many dour orchestral pieces that drag out without going anywhere particularly interesting (What Lies Within, The Niflheim Empire, Sorrow Without Solace, Tenebrae) and the soundtrack’s attempts to dabble in other genres either play it too safe (A Quick Pit Stop, blues for the sake of blues and in the least imaginative form possible) or fail to develop their potential. I like The Hunters with its cool, dark atmosphere and some swell guitar riffing, but it never builds on the premise established in the first ten seconds. CINDY is another example — a slice of country pop, unusual for a video game and even more so for a JRPG, with all of the right instruments set up for a cool song but little interesting to say.
I remember reading about the influence of road trip Americana on the game in interviews, and I wish the soundtrack did some more digging to cultivate those roots, or at least forge its own identity. As it is, too much of it is mere lip service. At the very least the instrumentalists improv where appropriate, lending some freewheeling spirit to a soundtrack that often feels too safe and too constrained. Hammerhead shows us what could have been. This is a deceptively elegant blues song, one given room to breathe and build, where staple blues instruments are built around a musical idea rather than just parroting a genre sound. The organ, guitar, harmonica, and electric guitar all move in and out of the spotlight, and the others recede to fill in the background like a live performance. Wanderlust compliments Hammerhead very well, I think — it too has a “journey” feel, but of a different breed. There’s a light banjo in the background, which is an offbeat choice that ends up being just the right spice for the dish. The flute eventually gives way to a bright piano lead, and then electric guitar, making for a performance just like Hammerhead. I really like the moment at 3:39, where the drums peel away and the guitar lends a light percussiveness, and the flute gently takes over the melody, like a breeze moving over a canyon. These two songs make for excellent adventure music in this particular game, completely realized with their own identity.
That’s why, especially after these early songs, it’s disappointing to hear “genre” songs pop in and out to give the soundtrack some halfhearted variety — here’s a blues song for the diner, here’s a rock song for the car ride, here’s some bossa nova for the beach. FFXV has pleasant music most of the time, rarely if ever bad, but songs like Welcome to the Levelle, Galdin Quay, the prelude-callback Crystalline Chill, Altissia, or Bros on the Road never amount to much more than being pleasant. One anomaly is Urban Chrome, this weird 80s funk thing with wah-wah guitar, slap bass, and some super-smooth Rhodes comping. It is unexpected and a lot of fun to listen to, letting the reins loose to showcase its performers in brief flits. Another is the late-appearing jazz blues number Dinner Car, a slow Grant Green-esque guitar strut over organ and accordion using the Valse di Fantastica melody. It’s an odd but memorable combo, too short to go much of anywhere but with a nice groove. This is the kind of intimate jazz blues that I wanted to see more of from the game.
I can only speculate what went wrong here. My self-imposed narrative is that this is Yoko Shimomura and company coping with the big Final Fantasy brand, a relatively grounded setting, and a much longer soundtrack than her usual, and so there’s a lot here that’s just filling time. I can’t say I know much about co-composers Yoshitaka Suzuki, Tetsuya Shibata, or Yoshino Aoki; Yoshitaka Suzuki I remember from a slew of endgame tracks on XIII-2, none of which I really cared for. In any case, it’s clear that Shimomura is the star here. My favorite songs from Shimomura in her other soundtracks have a sense of whimsy or sweeping, dramatic scope. I don’t think of eclecticism when I think of Shimomura (which is not to say I think her inflexible - Hammerhead, Wanderlust, and Dining Car show her capable of something different, if not revolutionarily so), but nor do I begrudge her for it. What she does well she does very, very well.
The standouts are, for sure, the battle themes. Stand Your Ground and Veiled in Black bear the Shimomura touch through rushes of strings and piano octaves. (I really like the punch of the Veiled in Black Arrangement, too.) The much-lauded APOCALYPSIS NOCTIS is a grand, anthemic melody that will surely be an enduring part of this game’s legacy. My personal favorite is the boss theme Invidia. This is a blissful piece of operatic rock that reminds me of a Motoi Sakuraba battle theme, complete with his usual key change. It’s perfect showdown music. Up for the Challenge is another keeper that invokes Revo on the Bravely Default soundtrack with its quasi-call-and-response between strings and piano, propelling the song and eventually culminating in unified hits.
While the dramatic moments are more miss than hit for me, there are a few that really resonate — the popular NOX AETERNA and Valse di Fantastica, which are so closely intertwined with the game at this point that they could be considered “themes” for the game. The former’s soulful minor harmonization brings a certain other song to mind; the latter puts Shimomura’s whimsy on display with an enchanting waltz and Shimomura’s signature violin and oboe. NOCTIS, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its simplicity, is soulful and moving. I’d also like to give a shoutout to the final track, a rendition of the Main Theme from FINAL FANTASY. I’ve got to say - I don’t usually care for most renditions of the Prelude, but this one is gorgeous.
No discussion of Final Fantasy XV is complete without Somnus. Ten years later and this is still such a magnificent song — perfect buildup, perfect interplay between the mournful vocalist and piano accompaniment. This song feels all the more storied by Final Fantasy XV’s long, toiled development. In my mind’s eye, I can see my middle school self watching the trailer in 240p.
There are just too many weak songs on this soundtrack for me to give it my full endorsement. With that said, while it’s customary to consider soundtracks holistically to judge quality, sometimes a prize horse can carry the cart. When Shimomura isn’t treading water here, she’s knocking it out of the park with powerful and memorable themes that have surely already wormed their way into the Final Fantasy musical canon. The strength of those themes alone, in my opinion, is enough to earn FFXV a conversation at the table.
[3. Pokemon Sun and Moon]
I’ve gotta admit, it feels kind of wrong to put a Pokemon soundtrack over a Final Fantasy soundtrack. Pokemon music is collectively some of my least favorite among Nintendo’s franchises, too. As I peeled the shrink wrap off of my copy of Pokemon Sun last month, I never imagined it would crack my top three.
Pokemon Sun and Moon has a lot of unremarkable tracks, like the normal battle themes and route themes, but the special encounter themes are great. Battle! Team Skull Grunt is a weird little track that sports an almost reggae-like rhythm before breaking into a more traditional Pokemon sound. I saw Battle! Team Skull Boss Guzma getting some hate in another thread, and I can’t quite disagree if someone calls it hot garbage, but I can’t get enough of that hypnotic beat. These two tracks have an Earthbound-esque charm: odd, distorted, bitty, but weirdly fun to listen to.
Battle! Island Kahuna is an easier recommendation that starts off foreboding before becoming sunny and hectic, sweet music for a capstone battle. Battle! Team Skull Enforcer Gladion is just one of those super-catchy video game themes, with slap bass that reminds me of a Mega Man tune. Battle! Aether President Lusamine is a standout with frenetic piano runs and click-clack drums that mirror the unhinged nature of the game’s only true-blue villain. Battle! Trainer Red/Blue is a cool rendition of a classic Pokemon battle theme. I like that it plays with the mold a bit in the latter half of the song with an accordion, and the drums are nice and crisp. And Battle! Champion, the climactic battle theme, begins with a Pokemon Red and Blue musical callback and soon builds into a short but gleeful celebration of the series.
What’s more surprising here are the town themes, which are almost uniformly good. Sun and Moon uses day and night music for each town, and in many cases, both versions are aces. The all-too brief Hau'oli City (Day) is a lovely, bouncy interplay between ukulele, guitar, and bass. I’m even more fond of Hau'oli City (Night), a straight-shooting jazz theme that gets a surprising amount of texture out of the brush hits of the drummer and the pianist’s well-placed trills. Heahea City (Day) and (Night) portray a wealthy beach town with trumpet and organ, and I dig the key changes. Konikoni City (Day) lays it on a little thick with the Chinese kitsch sound; I prefer the night variation, with its weird phone-dial bleeps and bloops and a bubbly melody that reminds me of both Earthbound and Kirby. Vast Poni Canyon is somehow nostalgic, channeling the Super NES days of gaming, and it’s got a pretty funky pan flute.
Pokemon Sun and Moon’s soundtrack isn’t super ambitious, and that’s probably why I feel a little guilty ranking it above the likes of Final Fantasy XV. But it is really enjoyable to listen to, and the composers sound like they had fun making music for it — it’s a soundtrack full of good vibes. For that, and for the first time, Pokemon has my vote.
Like Final Fantasy XV’s soundtrack, God Eater 2’s soundtrack suffers from bloat, though of a different strain. There’s a bombastic quality to much of Go Shiina’s compositions here, and while it sounds unique from other composers, it can get rather samey. Then again, if you’re not Hamauzu (how the heck did he do it?), it’s probably really hard not to sound samey over an 80-track album.
It’s mostly in the aggregate that some of these songs lose their luster. On their own, they’re quite good. Land of Plague sets the stage for the melodramatic world of God Eater with the introduction of a leitmotif, romantic strings building into a military march with heroic trumpet fanfare. I really like the horn melody at 2:14 and the ensuing melody to the song’s denouement, which electronically distorts to represent the monstrous Aragami. Our Friend reprises the God Eater leitmotif established in the first game, as well as the “Aria of Light” leitmotif, which I’ll talk about later. Just listen to a few of these songs: Empty Fate (which incorporates the God and Man leitmotif), Puppet of Cause (I really like the part at 1:17), Those Who Sleep in the Depths (which uses the leitmotif introduced in Land of Plague), The Guidance of Blood, or Silver Road. Is the fatigue setting in yet? Haha… I like these compositions a lot, despite the fact that they often use the same style, the same panoply of orchestral instruments — they are rich and detailed, and made all the more rewarding by a liberal use (some might justifiably call it an overuse) of leitmotifs. Still (and this is quite likely a matter of personal taste) I just really like the way Shiina’s compositions sound, even if he overuses certain patterns. All of the God Eater leitmotifs are really good melodies in their own right and I rarely tire of listening to them.
The soundtrack does, in fact, mix it up. Some highlights include rock number Blood Rage, a guilty pleasure with some seriously bad lyrics, the koto-lead Black Issen, the Tekken-esque Beasts of the Wilderness, and the God Eater 1 melody mashup, BattleMix -overpressure-.
As with his other soundtracks, Shiina’s vocal arrangements are generally my favorites. I really like this game’s rendition of God and Man, entitled God and Man -end of my dream-. A song introduced in the first game that plays during a key, tragic moment, the full chorus is poignant in a different way than Donna Burke’s original rendition, and the strings are lush without being busy. Beyond the God Eater 1 songs, this game introduces three in particular that I’m quite fond of. The first is the aforementioned Aria of Light, performed by a character in-game. It’s a lovely tune, and Shiina’s orchestral accompaniment has flair, but I’d consider it the weakest of the three — vocalist yu-yu is somewhat lacking in presence, and the song is overlong by a minute or two. Tree of Life, the ending theme sung by Luis Armando Rivera, has some really cheesy lyrics, but I like the earnest and sincere sound of his voice, along with Shiina’s fantastic pop ballad orchestral accompaniment. Perhaps edging out Tree of Life for my favorite vocal song is Revolving Lantern, sung by Ingrid Gerdes. Gerdes shows off her professional chops here with just the right amount of restraint. She’s one of the few vocalists who can maintain her spotlight in front of the moving train that is Shiina’s accompaniment, resulting in a graceful yet powerful ballad.
That’s God Eater 2 for you, and Go Shiina for that matter — a virtuoso composer who could benefit from some more variety, as back in the Tales of Legendia/God Eater 1 days, but who I could still listen to forever. I’m so glad that he’s young. Hopefully we hear his work for many years to come.
[1. Fire Emblem Fates]
I gave Fire Emblem Awakening my number one spot for 2013’s soundtrack of the year, so Fates must have been a shoo-in, right?
Well, not quite. Let me get the negatives out of the way first.
Just like in Awakening and most JRPGs for that matter, you have visual novel fare like Petals in the Wind, What Can You Do?, or the “I’m a scheming, evil bad guy!” theme The Dim Abyss. It’s not really a big deal to me - they’re inoffensive at worst, and there are relatively few of them. On the whole, I actually think this is a pretty enjoyable group of quick mood-makers, and an impressive amount of them (The Path to You, Curious Dining (channeling Hamauzu twenty seconds in?), A Lady’s Mirror) actually establish nice little atmospheres with their distinct uses in the game’s downtime.
Some of the map themes try a little too hard to sound epic. That might sound ironic given that I just gave a spot to God Eater 2, but unlike that game some of these compositions just aren’t interesting enough or don’t do enough to maintain their perpetual bombast. I like the battle versions of No Justice and Far Dawn and Dark Wastes, certainly more than I dislike them, but they all do the same thing to drum up tension: smash, smash, smash. I do have to qualify this criticism, though, as most map themes come in a combo of “calm” and “battle” variations, which would certainly mitigate the fatigue these songs bring on in track-by-track listening. On the flip side, Thorn In You tries too hard to be as affecting as Awakening’s Don't say her name! but just doesn’t have the chops.
As a last negative, I do feel that the European (Celtic?) flavoring of the Conquest tracks and the Japanese flavoring of the Birthright tracks is often more style than substance, and the further along in the game, the less thought-out the use of ethnic instruments seems.
Overall, I think I still prefer Awakening’s soundtrack, just for its sheer highs. But Fates certainly has highs of its own.
There are some very good map themes here: Dusk Falls, Justice RIP (Storm), Past Light (Storm), and the standout Alight (Storm). On the whole these are denser melodies than those found in Awakening, which is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but at least you get the sense that the composers are more confident with this series. I particularly like Past Below, and even moreso its battle version Past Below (Flow), with its enigmatic melody that changes shape over its runtime, breaking briefly into waltz, laying down heavier drums, and eventually running a dark-sounding steel drum(?) run in the (Flow) version. The DLC tracks Contest of Pride (Roar) and (Blast) are great. I love their jumble of percussive layers, drums and instruments alike, the syncopated beats. Path of the Hero-King is a fun, fast modern take on a vintage Fire Emblem battle theme.
One of my favorites is the DLC battle track Puzzling Empty Dream. The pop of the drums is incredibly satisfying, and the scattered rise and fall of the melody makes for an exciting and vibrant song. My absolute favorite, however, is the fan-favorite Road Taken / Road Taken (Roar). I don’t really have the words to describe why I like this one so much. It’s just an incredibly good melody. It’s like Conquest (Ablaze) from Fire Emblem Awakening, but somehow even better. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t. It’s magic for me.
I want to highlight End of All (here the “Land” version, one of three versions of the song varying only in their lyrics). End of All is the final boss theme, akin to Awakening’s Id (Purpose), and operates in much the same way — reprise the leitmotif for a climactic battle. Here, the leitmotif is “if ~ Hitori Omou,” which I’ll talk about later. Anyway, this is a superb song, in no small part because it doesn’t overdo things. It doesn’t try to be as grandiose as Id (Purpose) or even some of Fates’ regular map themes, and while it’s certainly an “epic” song, it’s also a more intimate one — fitting, given that the game’s “final bosses” are more intimate conflicts to begin with. I really like the opening thirty seconds or so — there’s some sort of synth in there, I think, percolating and setting the stage for an intense struggle. It also recalls the image of water, an image central to the game and to the Hitori Omou theme. I like that the piano here, when it’s not front-and-center, plays on the lower register, giving the song both some body and a bit of an edge. The vocals, too, are soft and low, stirring up atmosphere as the orchestration fills and builds. The escalation here is natural, never overshooting. The result is a pretty graceful final boss theme, and that’s not an adjective you often see with that phrase.
Finally, let’s talk about the manifestations of Fates’ vocal theme and main leitmotif, if ~ Hitori Omou, localized with the pleasant English name Lost In Thoughts All Alone (though, unfortunately, not as elegant in its lyric translation, which often stumbles in its syllabic emphasis). As I said before, this song, and the character Aqua who sings it, are both thematically tied to water. The song itself sounds like it’s playing out over a lake — the slight reverb, the synth mimicking droplets and the bass the body of water quivering below. Vocalist Renka is a good match here. Her performance has little panache, but is clear and moderate and slightly breathy, embodying the character and gliding prettily over a melancholy orchestra. Sorrowful and restrained, it is spellbinding song. The composers must have realized this, too, because they overuse the melody all throughout the soundtrack. Yet its various incarnations, however brief - such as the mysterious The Water Maiden, the patient and pensive Grief, which ends with the injured Aqua straining through the last few notes, and the opening theme Ties That Bind, along with the aforementioned End of All, shine the melody through a prism, showing off its beauty in different reflections.
I can’t say Fates is a killer soundtrack, but it is constantly excellent. The battle themes are meaty and hard-hitting, and “if ~ Hitori Omou” makes for a very memorable centerpiece. I hope these guys push the envelope a bit more next time with the next Fire Emblem soundtrack, but even if they don’t, I very much look forward to it.
And here I thought I could be the unique guy to point out Konikoni City night is some weird yet oddly catchy stuff.
A Dark Fall (Fire)
Past Below (Flow)
Puzzling Empty Dream
The End of the Road Should Be Here
2. Pokemon Sun/Moon
Ten Carat Hill
Battle! Aether President Lusamine
Iki Town (Night)
Vast Poni Canyon
Battle! Team Skull Boss Guzma
3. I Am Setsuna
No Turning Back
The Scent of the Sea
A Sense of Safety
Pokemon town themes do their catchiest when they go wierd.
Damn Axelstream, you've pretty much got my thoughts down on Sun/Moon and Fates and then some. A lot of the song descriptions be it more positive or a bit negative (the point about Thorn in you is dead on I feel) mirror my thoughts but actually tackled with more elegance than I could hope to.
And here I thought I could be the unique guy to point out Konikoni City night is some weird yet oddly catchy stuff.
Umineko, one of the finest visual novels ever made, finally got an official english release this year and with it comes a stunning soundtrack. The absolutelly masive (about 100 songs in the currently released first half) brilliantly captures the athmosphere of the game, from the dark and menacing songs such as goldenslaughterer to beautiful piano melodies in Hope and Answer the soundtrack plays an absolutelly vital role in bringing to life the athmosphere of the visual novel, since its visuals are for the most part limited to just character sprites. There's just so much to this soundtrack, and so many of its songs are simply stellar, but a good video game soundrack needt to do more than just sound good in isolation, and Umineko's soundtrack is the one that I feel adds the most to its game out of any released this year.
2. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
I don't think Falcom has ever made a soundtrack I didn't like, and Cold Steel II is no exception. The combat themes don't dissapoint, with the standouts being Sever Blow, a callback to Trail's in the Sky's fantastic Fateful Confrontation, as well as the standard battle theme Heated Mind. Oddly, some of the game's best songs are found in its snowboarding minigame. Both Take The Windward and Chasing After the Mountain Hare are such fun and energetic songs.
Take The Windward
Chasing After the Mountain Hare
3. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
While the first two games were easy picks this year, I had a much harder time deciding on the last one, as there were so many good soundtracks released this year (Doom, Furi, Dark Souls 3, Civ 6, Street Fighter V, ...) . VA-11 Hall-A just slightly edged out the competition. VA-11 Hall-A's soundtrack is great at conjuring an athmosphere of a cyberpunk bar, and there's a really good variety of songs on offer given how short the actual game is.
Every Day Is Night
Your Love is a Drug
Fallen London is an old game, originally released in 2009 as a browser based game. 7 years later, however, it got a mobile release, and with the mobile version came an utterly splendid soundtrack. It's dark, mysterious, quirky and unique, and those are all qualities that perfectly describe Fallen London itself.
However, the reason that it only gets an honorable mention is that the actual mobile release is, quite simply, unplayable, with insane load times, poor interface and connectivity issues that can erase your progress. This means that the only way to actually experience the soundrack is to listen to it on its own, which defeats the entire point of a game soundtrack adding to the experience of playing the game.
Veilgarden Last Call
House of Chimes
Before the Mirror
Empress at the Window
Hands down, this is my favorite soundtrack of the year. Too bad I can't listen to it without becoming a complete emotional mess!
Nevertheless, the ambience, feelings and tone of the soundtrack are sublime, and unlike anything else I've heard this year. Epilogue is my favorite track (and the one I can't listen to too much!), because it's beautiful on itself and it's tied to a magnificient ending.
2. Final Fantasy XV
Stand Your Ground
Final Fantasy XV is my most played game of the year, and the soundtrack never gets old in all those hours I've spent with it. I can't even pick a favorite track, it's that good.
Turn Your Back and Run
2. Thumper - Game's sound effects adds a lot to the raw songs in the game so listening them out of context doesn't give the game credit it deserves.
3. DOOM - Rippin' and tearin' OST.
Rip and Tear
1. Battlefield 1 - by Johan Söderqvist & Patrik Andrén
I think the entire album is outstanding, and it's really hard to narrow it down to a few tracks, but I'll try. This is the perfect Battlefield album to me. There have been good tracks in the past (Armored Fury, Bad Company, etc) but they were mostly just rearrangements of the same (albeit iconic) theme.
Battlefield 1 feels like a full, complete album, that utilizes the "Classic 1942" theme to it's fullest, while also expanding the Battlefield sound in the best possible way.
Here are my top tracks:
#1. Battlefield One - Sets the tone right away. Has the traditional Battlefield theme woven in, mostly in the background. A mix of foreboding and excitement. The distinct "Battlefield 1 theme" also gets put in play here, which is beautiful.
#2. The Swindle - One of my favorites. It just has this uplifting feeling to it, which is a nice contrast to some of the more serious and somber tracks on the album. Like most of the tracks, the familiar Battlefield refrain is worked into the background.
#3. Battlefield Classic Theme - Eminently familiar, but probably the best version yet produced (In my opinion). Even after all these years, the classic theme is still one of the greatest.
#4. Knights of the Sky - This is probably my favorite track on the album. It mixes some of the "adventure" from The Swindle in with the seriousness of the other tracks. At 1:15 onward, it builds to the classic theme in such an epic way.. ahhh.
The Flight of the Pigeon - A really beautiful, quiet rendition of the Battlefield theme. Also, Pigeons.
Dawn of a New Time - A good ending track, contains the Macedonian folk song Zajdi Zajdi.
Oh hell, just listen to the whole damn Soundtrack.
3. Quantum Break
I actually thought the soundtrack worked well, it wasn't anything great, and #3 is waaaaaay below my #1, but it was still well done. There was also some really great use of licensed tracks.
LTTP vote: Skyrim (Special Edition or otherwise)
The Skyrim Main Theme is still GOAT.
2. 7th Dragon III: Code VFD
3. VA-11 HALL-A
Garoad aka Michael Kelly
"Every Day is Night"
"Drive Me Wild"
Honourable Mentions: Rhythm Heaven Megamix, Pokemon Sun and Moon ("Apparel Shop")
LTTP: Fez, Gravity Rush, Earthbound