Readers discuss the best video game music from the current and previous generation, including Returnal and Ori And The Blind Forest.
The topic of this week’s Hot Topic was inspired by reader Andee, but limited the discussion to the PlayStation 4 and 5 era, to ensure that it’s not just the usual suspects that are mentioned.
People have found a lot of games to rent, although some fear that modern soundtracks may not be as memorable as they used to be, even though they are technically more accomplished.
When I saw the hot topic suggestion this week, I immediately thought of five or six good options and struggled to pick one. So well done GC to limit to current / last generation only. Without any hesitation, there can only be one choice for me, Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The fact that he took home the best score and best music at the Game Awards last year speaks volumes.
The way they captured the original but updated it with a full orchestra and added some subtle twists is just amazing. I’m not going to lie, I had to sit and listen to The Prelude – Reunion for five minutes before I even hit a button the first time I loaded the game, nostalgia and joy almost overwhelmed me and I never even played the original until 2002!
The only negative about it, other than its ending, is that Hollow makes me want a Crisis Core remake in the same vein even more, with the same love and attention given to The Price of Freedom – which is. maybe my favorite piece of Final Fantasy music ever. All the sensations. Can’t wait to see the next episode and maybe I’m looking forward to the score just as much as seeing where the actual story goes!
Keep up the great work !
PS Limiting the period for this topic also makes me yearn for a new Silent Hill game with Akira Yamaoka as the sound designer. Her scores for these games are some of the best, but must have Mary Elizabeth McGlynn on vocals!
Graphics for the ears
My favorite game soundtrack of the (sort of) last generation was Hotline Miami. The graphics were almost as simple as they come, but for me the music was like 8K mega HD 3090ti graphics, but for the ears. I would find myself murdering henchmen to the beat of the music.
I also love the Streets Of Rage 4 soundtrack, the art gallery area being sublime. But the problem with this game is that the music changes too often, so as soon as you enter it it just disappears.
Remember the melodies
The sad thing about current gen and last gen soundtracks is that they’re the one area of a game where the fusion of film and video games is a bit too tight.
There’s a reason more and more artists are taking snippets of classic game tunes from yesteryear and it’s their timeless ability to grab your attention, often with very simplistic melodies. Watching a sample from the Sonic Symphony instantly brings me back and has me humming all of these themes all morning.
While the soundtracks that now stand out have become scarce as they tend to turn towards large orchestral arrangements which, although often spectacular, tend to be forgotten quite easily.
To think I’ve written about the sheer majesty of Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture before, which completely ironed out the fact that it’s not really a game at all.
I also really liked the score for Horizon Zero Dawn, despite the fact that I was never close to finishing it because I thought it captured the mood perfectly.
My favorite overall, however, by far is that of The Last Of Us Part 1 and 2. The composer was the one that stood out from his cinematic work and he continued his signing for the masterpiece. by Naughty Dog.
I have to admit I preferred the first one, as I brought the accompanying CD and listened to it religiously as little details appeared over time. Technically, the second is better and has nice callbacks to the original, but you never forget your first love, as they say. Its imperfections and the use of unusual instruments give it a much more unique flavor than anything else.
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I’ve never played Airmech or Airmech Wastelands from Carbon Games, but recently listening to the Frontline Assembly catalog, I got to hear the soundtracks for both of these games.
I can easily imagine how dark, bass-heavy electro must complement your being immersed, inside giant robot armor, in a future war. While playing Doom Eternal last year and picking up the collectible vinyl records, I realized that Frontline Assembly founding member Bill Leeb had composed the music for Quake 3 as well.
In terms of music suited to the playstyle, I think recent Doom games have perfected it – their soundtracks provide exhilarating accompaniment and I can’t think of a better match than tearing demons in half to the sound of a pumping industrial.
I’m not sure if that’s a correct answer to your Hot Topic question, but I really like the music levels in Sackboy: A Big Adventure, which sound and play wonderfully with the Sony Pulse 3D and DualSense headphones.
I love the way the level, controller, and headphones react to music. Some of the music is older than my generation, but it’s very good.
Currently playing: God Of War (PS5)
CG: It seems like a perfectly valid choice.
Buy the soundtrack
My favorite soundtrack from the last generation has to be Ori And The Blind forest. I think it might even be the only soundtrack I bought.
Perfect transitions for intense game sections, but also outside of the game, work as great background music while you work.
The best of the generation
I wrote last week about my adore for the fabulous Bloodborne sheet music and it deserves all the praise it gets, so I’m just going to mention a few more that I enjoyed. I was very impressed with Returnal, the audio from the Battle of Nemesis being outstanding. It was increased tenfold using the 3D headphones and I would say it was the most intense experience I have had outside of a From game. I’m still adamant that a save option would spoil the sheer terror, joy, and panic you feel when you’re on your last breath of health.
I would also like to congratulate the Scottish composer Kenneth Young for his work on the underrated Tearaway but above all for the happy Astro Bot. Rescue Mission and Playroom both have contagious and brain-damaging songs. The GPU (it does it for you) and SSD tracks in Playroom are a sure highlight and complement the exuberance of Astro and his robot buddies perfectly. I sincerely hope they keep it for the next adventure (preferably Rescue Mission 2 in VR).
It’s become the norm now for video game scores to eclipse mainstream movies, but there’s still a part of me that loves the old 8-bit. I’m a metal buff and listening to an 8-bit rendition of Slayer’s Reign in Blood or Megadeth’s Rust in Peace album makes me think I’m playing Road Rash at x10 speed or Gunstar Heroes at x300.
I have been given fond memories of such a fabulous hobby.
CG: Bloodborne, Returnal, and the GPU song are all great choices.
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