NOTEWRTHY: Best Video Game Soundtracks
Welcome back to NOTEWRTHY, 19 years in the making, 6 months in practice.
Today, let’s talk about something that is as close to my heart as music: video games. More specifically, let’s talk about my favorite game soundtracks.
Soundtracks can make a game even better than it already is. As important as visuals are, a good soundtrack can enhance the experience tenfold. Whether it’s a fight scene that has been culminating over the course of the entire game or a surprise death in the second act, music can make the scene even more poignant than it would’ve been without it. So, let’s get into it.
First up, let’s talk about one of my favorite games of all time, and my favorite from its series: Uncharted 3.
Kicking off the soundtrack made by Greg Edmonson is “Nate’s Theme 3.0.” This version of the iconic song is easily my favorite out of the entire series, and perfectly balances the epic nature of the game, with the majesty that is Nate’s discoveries. It sets the tone for the entire game and does so perfectly. The other tracks on this album do the same thing as before: convey both excitement and wonder. This collection of in-game music blends the iconic string-based instrumentals we know and love from the Uncharted series, with a collection of instruments reminiscent of Arabia and the Middle East as a whole. It gives a sense of location to an otherwise more basic-sounding work that would’ve just been written off as a clone of the first game. From the lighter guitar elements to the airy woodwinds, this soundtrack really does give you a sense of the adventure you’ll partake in.
Next, let’s talk about one of the most well-received games of the past 5 years: God of War (2018).
This game had a lot to live up to to warrant a revival, and they came out of the studio swinging. Accompanying this amazing game is a soundtrack made by Bear McCreary that matches in quality in every way. From the deep chorale notes of the opening track alone, it’s easy to see how much time, effort and love was put into every aspect of the game. The music matches the moment at every point. From the fight with Magni and Modi to remembering Atreus’s mother, the music is always the perfect accompaniment. The entire work highlights the emotions and characters so well, that even over a year after I finished the game, I can still remember how these songs made me feel at the moments they were played in the game. With all this in mind, my personal favorite song off of this soundtrack has to be “The Summit.” This track is an absolute masterpiece of emotions. All the hardship and the struggle the characters went through all pays off as the game ends at the highest point in all the Nine Realms, as this perfect song punctuates the end to this part of an amazing story of development and learning. Satisfying isn’t even the correct word for the moment. Deserved. That is the correct word.
Before we get to the last one, here are a few honorable mentions: Far Cry 5, Sunset Overdrive, The Last of Us, Spider-Man, and Destiny 2. All of these games have amazing soundtracks, but they didn’t make my top 3.
Finally, let’s talk about a game that I genuinely consider to be one of the greatest and most versatile games of all time. Despite coming out officially in 2010, this game recently became the best-selling game of all time. That’s right, let’s talk about Minecraft.
Let’s face it: it’s nearly impossible in this day and age to not have interacted with the game at some point in your life. Whether it be through you yourself playing it, or even your nephews talking about it; everyone has heard of Minecraft. And of course, the game has an amazing soundtrack. Curated mainly by C418, the soundtrack has actually been released in several volumes over the course of the game’s life. For simplicity’s sake, we will only be talking about the piece that started it all: Volume Alpha. Volume Alpha is packed full of iconic tracks, any of which you can play for a fan of the game and they will immediately recognize it as being a Minecraft song. From the iconic sounds of “Subwoofer Lullaby” to the so-called “Handwashing Suite” composed of the tracks “Dry Hands” and “Wet Hands,” this project really makes you feel immersed in the world. The serenity of having the entire world at your fingertips, to do as you please, the anxiety-inducing cave-like sounds of “Thirteen,” all of it, it all adds to the unique experience of a game made for kids but enjoyed by all. Of course, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that some of the songs that can be found on the game’s in-game music discs can also be found in this album, including my favorite song “Cat.” In fact, the CD release of the album has the design of the disc “Cat” is from, printed on the actual CD itself. Regardless, this soundtrack is perfect in my opinion — more than earning it the top spot on my roster.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got this week. I’ll see you all next Saturday
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