End of Year 2018: Favorite Game Music


#1

Favorite Game Music

The music of a game enhances its moods, themes and tone and collaborates with the rest of its artistry. It scores your own personal experience and responds, as well as it can, to you as a player.

I want you to think about all these criteria, which are the responsibility of all game composers to fulfill as they start on each new project, as you consider the game scores you would like to nominate for this category. That means not only judging the quality of the music itself, but how well it suited the game and how effectively it scored your experience. These are the qualities of the most beautiful game music, and what makes it distinct from other music and even other scores. Without further ado, send us that good stuff.


Nomination Submissions

[click here for access to the submission form]

You will have until 5th January to nominate your games – this is our cut-off ahead of polling going live.

Remember: you can nominate up to three games, so be creative with your choices!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!


Q&A

Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, head on over to our google form and write down your submissions in the appropriate field. You may nominate up to three games and you will be able to edit this submission at any time by returning to the google form (before the nomination date closes).

As the nominations will be done externally, this thread will instead be the place to discuss what your favorites were and to make the case for them if you feel strongly. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end January 5th, 2019.

Q: What games can I nominate?

A: For this category, we’re specifically looking for games that were released between 10th December 2017 - 15th December 2018.

Games that either entered Early Access or hit 1.0 during this period are eligible.

Ports, remakes, and remasters are not eligible.

Standalone games/expansions are eligible, however Downloadable Content (DLC) is not.

Mobile and browser games are eligible as long as they meet all other relevant criteria.

The moderation team reserves the right to remove any game from nomination if necessary.

Credits
  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!

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#4

Let’s! Talk! About! Celeste!

I really, really it think deserves attention for having remixes of its own tracks that are not only phenomenal, but fall in line with the fact that you’re playing remixed levels.

The normal soundtrack has this wonderful, soft sound, filled with disparate piano and warm synths. Then the remixes are these killer tunes that totally reinvent their original track. And since those levels are NAILS hard, the remixes are generally amped up versions of the original.

Case in point:

the original:

the remix:


#5

Shouting out Splatoon 2, which sadly isn’t eligible despite releasing a huge chunk of its best music through Octo Expansion and other updates this year. The artists having an in-universe presence gives the songs such a cool sense of identity; Diss-Pair sounds off because the artists record in total ignorance of each other and cobble the songs together afterwards, SashiMori’s vocals don’t sound normal because the 10-year-old octoling DJ rips them from his collection of ancient (human???) vinyl. It’s nonsense and I adore it. And more Off the Hook is always welcome.


#6

I’m going to need some time to think about this one, but I know what the forerunner in my mind is (mostly because I haven’t played Celeste yet).


#7

I don’t know what to say about this song other than that it is an extremely powerful bop and might be the best original piece of music I’ve heard in a game since Transistor. The soundtrack as a whole is something truly special, an all-time great


#8

This is a great shoutout (as I missed a lot of this!), although I would point out, to you and others, that Favourite Ongoing Game is a great place to give games like Splatoon 2 their due!


#9

I have to say Wandersong, not only because it’s one of the few games that I actually played this year, but also because the music is actually really great.

What it makes it really cool though is that the music constantly involves the player (kind of obvious with the game being a musical and all that), which makes the emotional moments of the story all the more striking.

It’s a bit hard to just link to a track to give you an impression, because the ingame soundtrack is fairly dynamic, but this track is still fairly nice regardless:


#10

I’m going to bring up The Messenger here, which not only has some great tunes, but puts together fitting arrangements for each in its 8-bit and 16-bit sections. Usually with game soundtracks I have a few favorite tracks and end up ignoring most of the rest. This is one of the few I can happily listen to all the way through.

It’s in an odd space since it’s a demo(?) of sorts (edit: thanks @robowitch for the clarification!), but Deltarune’s soundtrack is stellar:


#11

Just going to nip this in the bud here – Deltarune is definitely eligble for awards as a standalone release. We aren’t going to split hairs about “Deltarune” versus “Deltarune Chapter 1” now, as we might be a few years out from that game’s next episode, final release, or “1.0” moment.

You can blur this into the broader ‘Early Access is okay’ eligibility requirement too.


#12

Octopath Traveller has an instrumental soundtrack I really enjoyed. Battle themes are especially good and will change dynamically during the longer boss battles.


side note, argh these ads on youtube are driving me crazy when i’m trying to find a specific track

#13

I’ve avoided Celeste because I hate precision platformers but those tracks are so good!


#14

That’s fair! But it’s also worth knowing that the modular difficulty select (talked about here) makes it a lot more welcoming than other masocore platformers!


#15

Hadn’t seen that video before, thanks, it’s totally relevant to what i’ve been thinking about this year in terms of difficulty and game design.
Anyway…

To stay on track I should mention the Tetris Effect soundtrack, which is cool and dynamically changes depending on how many lines you’ve cleared and every button press adds a different sound to the mix.
Also totally agree with the take that it reminds me of a more “hopeful” era in electronic music.


#16

I think the games that I would nominate for this award are going to get plenty of discussion from people who aren’t me, so I’m going to hijack a post to instead just highlight a handful of my favorite tracks from this year.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country (Yasunori Mitsuda)

Xenoblade 2 came out late last year and had an amazing soundtrack that often didn’t get talked about. Torna came out this year and has an amazing soundtrack that nobody is really talking about.

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (Daisuke Achiwa, Tatsuya Yano)

Annual Atelier/GUST mention. Once again, skim through some of this OST if you ever have an urgent need to feel happy… or just happen to like wind instruments… or xylophones… or occasionally guitar solos…

…or whatever this is.

Granblue Fantasy (Nobuo Uematsu, Tsutomu Narita)

Granblue Fantasy isn’t eligible for a nomination since it didn’t come out this year (and I guess hasn’t technically “come out” anywhere yet outside of Japan), but I played a lot of it again this year. As an on-going thing it ends up getting new music all the time, with this track being one of my favorites from this year.

GRIS (Berlinist)

Warning: May have effects opposite to those of Atelier.


#17

As Celeste and Deltarune have already been mentioned, I’ll have to talk about my third nomination here, Heaven Will Be Mine

Heaven Will Be Mine’s soundtrack crafts a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere that is dripping in tension and ambiguity, but yet still with a sense of romanticism and sensuality - it’s a perfect reflection of the game itself.


#18

I really appreciate that several of the remixes are from other composers in the indie dev scene . Super cool to see those kinds of crossovers, and many of the remixers are artists that I like a lot in their own right!


#19

Oh fuck, i keep forgetting how dope this ost is. I need to play this game already!!!


#20

Of all the games I played with music I loved, God of War definitely stands at the top. This is pretty basic, but if you’re gonna go big, you may as well go all the fucking way.


#21

I think Austin Wintory has done amazing work on the whole series and so I’m nominating The Banner Saga 3. It’s particularly neat in the ways that he’s taken themes that have been present since the first game and gives them darker twists to match the progression of the series’ story. Besides his ability to score beautiful orchestral music generally, a lot of this OST just gets BIG and epic; give me those giant swells of horns and plodding, thudding drums.

You can listen to the whole album on his Bandcamp: https://austinwintory.bandcamp.com/album/the-banner-saga-3

And I’ll embed a preview they did if you just want a taste:


#22

Now, like I’ve said in other threads, I am only nominating games I’ve played. And given I had no income this year, that was a lot of backlog games and very few games from 2018.

But even then, I still can’t quite decide how to narrow down my nominations to 2 plus Lethal League Blaze. The other candidates (Tetris Effect and Delta Rune) have already been spoken for though, so I should probably make a case for nominating…

Monster Hunter World

I’m not usually one to champion orchestral soundtracks, which you can probably tell by the other three games I mentioned. But Monster Hunter knows how to do it right, timing those crescendos just right to make dramatic moments in a fight hit that much harder. That desperate hit that lands or a well timed strike bringing the monster to its knees… an attack barely avoided or a trap sprung… Even with a frankly limited soundtrack for fights, it never gets old.

And then there is the Bazelgeuse theme. For hours in the game, this song was synonymous with dread and fear. It’s the first monster to appear in the game that will deliberately hunt down the player, regardless if the player is already in a fight or not. While tricks are learned to minimize its disturbance, its still a ridiculously powerful monster that you have no hope of defeating on first encounter, leaving you with only one option: run for your goddamn life.

But what makes this song even more sweeter is when you come out on the other side of it. You gear up, you find its weaknesses, you gather information on it, you build sets to minimize its damage… and finally take it down while its theme is still playing.

But Monster Hunter World has its quiet moments too. I have spent more time than I like to admit just sitting peacefully in your private suite, watching the little pets you’ve caught go through the same animations over and over.