Throughout the years, video games have given us some incredible music. But we're not just exploring games with outstanding soundtracks — we're digging for the absolute crème de la crème. This means we've got some very honorable mentions to get out of the way before we go over the 16 champions.
The games with stellar soundtracks that didn't quite make the cut include Cuphead, Bastion, Halo 2, BioShock Infinite and The World Ends with You. These tunes definitely deserve a listen, once you're done enjoying the top 16 best gaming soundtracks to ever grace gamers' ears. Get ready to discover unparalleled OST excellence.
Assassin's Creed Revelations' score is every bit as eye-opening as the game's title would imply. Jesper Kyd's and Lorne Balfe's work on Revelations' score set the stage for many, many future Assassin's Creed motifs. Among other things, the game gave us the series' continued adoration for chimes and haunting melodies contrasted with beautiful ones. While ACII laid the foundation for these developments with the piece "Ezio's Family," Kyd fully realized his ambitions in Revelations, where he and Balfe swung for the fences to craft something inclusive of all of AC's tones: futuristic and historical, sinister and uplifting. And, on all counts, they succeeded.
Assassin's Creed Origins also gets an honorable mention. Sarah Schachner's take on the series' Egyptian installment raised the bar for remixes of tried-and-true AC themes, as well as original compositions.
Far Cry 3's score, much like its story, is remarkably melancholy and grounded, even though the actual gameplay tries to rail against such moods. Though FC3's violent gunplay is meant to entertain, it's thematically appropriate for a story about a wealthy, bored young man who realizes that killing can bring him joy and a sense of purpose. As he falls further down the rabbit hole of destruction, so does the music. Brian Tyler makes sure that the protagonist's descent into madness, and the subconscious desolation that goes along with it, are mirrored in the unconventional post-rock score. Pieces like "I'm Sorry" and "Falling into a Dream" aurally illustrate the internal suffering of a morally deteriorating character.
The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has always had some of the best music in all of video gaming. From Sonic 2, to Secret Rings, to Zero Gravity, to Mania Plus, Sonic's always brought an S-Rank performance to his games' musical stylings. We'd like to name Sonic Unleashed as our favorite OST from blue blur's soundtrack repertoire. Featuring tunes that perfectly capture the vibe of every major region on Earth — from the saxophone-filled, high-energy streets of New York City to the suling-serenaded, lush jungles of Indonesia — Sonic Unleashed does an immaculate job of capturing the essences of its varied locales. Furthermore, there's the game's magnificent menu theme, main theme and accompanying orchestral remix, as well as a bevyof additionalA-grade tracks, all of which easily solidify the final product as one of, if not the very best, soundtracks in Sonic's history.
For gamers who want some of the smartest electronic music ever created, Remember Me's soundtrack is a must-listen. Every melody in the Olivier Deriviere-composed soundtrack is technological genius; each tune feels as if it were literally ripped from the innards of a futuristic computer. Beats are fragmented, glitchy and fraught with confusion — all part of Deriviere's deliberate design, as he wished to stay thematically consistent with the game's story, which is about a lost woman recovering her memories in a dystopian future Paris. That's also why Deriviere made sure players received the game's full main theme only at the final battle, though bits and pieces of it are scattered throughout earlier portions of the adventure. That amazing degree of foresight and vision is only part of what makes this soundtrack so incredible. The rest of its merits stem from old-fashioned quality and listenability.
There has never been a more jaunty, spritely and adventurous soundtrack in the history of gaming than Ducktales: Remastered's. It maintains the core melodies and spirit of the original 8-bit score while infusing enough contemporary elements (including a liberal dash of orchestral flair) to keep it feeling fresh and relevant. This is a soundtrack where you can deduce what the final level is solely from hearing the music beforehand, as well as pinpoint the geographic location of a level without needing to see it simply because its background tune is so evocative. Thank you, Jake Kaufman (the composer), for doing everyone's childhoods proud.
Though we'll definitely give an honorable mention to Bayonetta 2 for excellent tracks like "Tomorrow is Mine" and "Moon River — Climax Mix," we can't help but award the main prize to the original Bayonetta. This is a game that somehow turned Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" into a jazz-pop anthem that, against all odds, actually works. This game invented the experience of playing as a naked witch who summons monsters with her hair, while a wild, irreverent piano serenades your every move. We give Bayonetta massive props for creating something new while doing Sinatra's spirit proud in the process.
In terms of its soundtrack, Skullgirls is the seedy bar from noir films. It's the gothic horror flick Dracula crawled out of. It's the high-octane, world-spanning action-adventure movie you always wanted. Somehow, this marvelous indie's OST captures every one of those distinctive flavors and swirls them together into a musical smoothie front-loaded with unbridled panache. The snarky saxophones, popping trumpets, operatic singers, electric guitars, electronic melodies and smooth piano notes somehow blend into a series of tracks that, while not totally thematically consistent, are all consistently awesome and befitting of their in-game surroundings.
Credit: Marvelous Autumn Games