The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Game Music


#1

Favorite Game Music


The GILMs are alive with the sound of music…

What was the game music you had on your phone as soon as you heard it? What melodies immediately brought you back into the world from which they came? What themes moved you to feel for a character, area or moment? What did you sneak onto a Spotify playlist for your friend who doesn’t play games? This is the place to make your case for which game music was your favorite of the year.

This category is for best overall soundtrack, so think about the whole of a soundtrack before nominating a game’s music. Make sure you’re not really just nominating one song. The best composers work to create a cohesive whole that is consistent (or consistently inconsistent) in tone and style, and that is of high quality across the board.

We’re giving the floor to you now! Make your cases, listen to each other’s arguments and be sure to bold the title of your nomination. Make it funky, y’all.

Q&A

Q: Uhhh, sorry to ask, but... what are the GILM Awards?

A: Nothing to apologise for! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the awards here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, you have to write the game in your post and bold it, ideally at the top of your post. If we don’t know what you’re picking, we can’t count it. You get one (1) nomination. For a game to be eligible for the voting phase, it must have two nominations.

Nomination: (GAME)
(Rest of Post, full of lists and good takes)

You can make a list as long as your arm, just be clear chose. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision and discussion, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: I disagree with someone else's choice!

A: As per our Code of Conduct, be considerate about other people’s perspectives. There’s no need to puff out someone else’s candle to make yours a little brighter. Negativity is only going to hurt your case for what you love. What’s said in the thread stays in the thread. The mod team frown deeply on people taking disagreements thread-to-thread, like bringing up a user’s nomination in a previous category in a case against the present one.

Q: Someone already nominated the game(s) I wanted to twice, what do I do?

A: We still want to hear your thoughts! Be mindful of what has already been nominated, but as always, this topic is a conversation, so feel free to write about other nominated games.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end 12/10/2017.

Q: Can I nominate ports, re-releases, or remasters?

A: Generally, only games that saw their first release in 2017 are eligible. Full remakes may be eligible, but games like White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, which is a full remake of a game released in 2001 from 2015 that was ported to PC and PS4 this year, are still not eligible if they are ports. Expansions on existing games that stand alone, like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy or Dishonored: Death of the Outsider are eligible, but please consider these games on their own, separate from their full game companions. Please see the pinned topic for more information on eligibility criteria.


#2

Nomination: Pyre

This was honestly a toss up between Pyre and NieR: Automata for me. Both are excellent soundtracks that work wonders in their respective games. But if I had to ask which of the two I would go out of my way to regularly listen to just on my phone or in my car, it’d definitely be the Pyre soundtrack, considering I’ve been doing that since the game came out. And the fact that the game has enough music packed away to fill what is essentially 3 separate albums: Normal Soundtrack, Black Mandolin which has every variation on Never to Return, and White Lute which has acoustic instrumentals of the songs from the Normal Soundtrack that can be listened to from the Lute inside the blackwagon; means that it’ll be keeping me busy for a while.


#3

Nomination: Persona 5

Legendary composer Shoji Meguro is at it again with this masterpiece of a game soundtrack. Blending together influences from jazz, funk, soul, and electropop, the music of Persona 5 has a cool urban vibe that matches perfectly with the game’s location in the hustle and bustle of modern-day Tokyo. Meguro keeps a consistent style across the entire soundtrack, lending it cohesion even as the player jumps between dimensions. The fact that the soundtrack never comes off as monotonous is therefore an impressive feat, as each melody feels unique and recognizable. But perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Persona 5’s soundtrack is that even at the end of my 100+ hour playthrough, the music never got boring or irritating, and I found myself singing along to the battle theme right up until the final boss. The first main-line Persona game since 2004 had a lot of pressure on it before release, and the soundtrack not only meets but exceeds all fan expectations.


#4

Nomination: VA-11 Hall-A

Hearing the OST on Bandcamp sold me on this game. Any fans of Vaporwave should check out this soundtrack. The music really fits the aesthetic(oh god I’m sorry I had to use that word in this context) of the game, and unlike most vaporwave music the OST (as far as I know) is made up of original compositions that still really nail the sound. The music also plays a pretty big role in the gameplay since you can curate the playlist that serves as your BGM while bartending, and there’s a good amount of variety so you can really set the vibe in your bar.


#5

Persona 5

This is music to start a revolution to. From the attract screen animation (“Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There”), to the Palace Heist theme (“Life Will Change”), to the penultimate boss theme (“Rivers in the Desert”), the soundtrack kept escalating what it means to feel the idea of “FUCK YEAH”. Lyn Inaizumi gives the performance of a lifetime with these songs that just make you want to go out and punch a nazi. Combined with some incredible low-tempo daily themes (“Shapeshifter” is a stand-out), the Persona 5 soundtrack is the complete package.


#6

@Hartnote Hey there! Unfortunately, VA-11 Hall-A (while I’m 100% with you on its music) was released first in 2016 and thus falls afoul of our Eligibility criteria. You’re welcome to keep your post up (if only so we can keep jamming to it), but your nomination will not count and we’d encourage you to place a new one.


#7

oh word???
u rite, u rite.


#8

Seconding Pyre


#9

Splatoon 2

back when the first game came out I remember thinking like, whoa, this is way more out there than any other game soundtrack I’ve heard, and it rules.
Splatoon 2 has more of the same, the regular squid battle tunes (each by specific in-universe bands), the slightly weirder stuff for single-player, and the different battle music for when Splatfest’s happening (my hot take though is that Off The Hook does better music than the Squid Sisters did (except Tidal Rush which might be my favourite song in the game??)), but it also adds the new weird intense kinda horror-y music for Salmon Run.
Heck, part of the update coming up in the next couple days is “more battle music from 2 new bands”. Seems like the music is a thing they put effort into.


#10

Nomination: Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania could’ve easily rested on its laurels and coast by retreading the backcatalogue of Sonic’s great music, but it went all in.

The composer, Tee Lopes, does a fantastic job of melding his own sense of style with that of Naofumi Hataya’s work on the Sonic CD soundtrack, and even when he is tasked with retouching a classic track from Sonic’s past - he still manages to put his own spin on it.


#11

Nomination: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Legend of Zelda’s music, and style of music, is iconic. Perhaps too iconic. While I love the grand feeling that past Zelda soundtracks have had, music propelled by full orchestras, recent soundtracks have not strayed far from each other.

Which is fine, don’t get me wrong! But BotW does, and it is amazing. The music can often feel sparse, but it’s sparse, minimal style, to me, compliments the wide open vistas of the game, and the long stretches spent riding or walking. Not only that, but BotW’s soundtrack is an achievement in that it takes from contemporary music and succeeds in making an effective soundtrack for a game. The game clearly owes a lot to minimalist composers from around the globe, and minimalist composition has been prominent in Japan since the 1980s. Despite it’s seemingly lofty ties, the soundtrack works.

This fractured style also ties in amazingly with the story, both directly, through the character of Kass, and indirectly. It indirectly reaches the story by reflecting the state of the world, and the way BotW fits into the larger scheme of Zelda. Ultimately, if you had told me that a game would’ve adapted Philip Glass in an effective manner as throw away music for a dungeon, I would’ve laughed. But here we are.


#12

Nomination: NieR Automata

Automata’s soundtrack does a lot. When contributing to the music in the previous title, NieR Gestalt, vocalist Emi Evans wrote the lyrics by crafting what she imagined language would sound like after one thousand years of cultural drift. This ended up being the heart to the entire soundtrack, a mostly acoustic and orchestral score that was very old fashioned, familiar but yet definitely foreign, fitting to the setting of the game itself.

It’s only fitting then, that Automata’s soundtrack takes another generational leap. In a world full of machines, the music takes a certain mechanical quality itself. Automata has a more eclectic mix to it’s predecessor. And there are moments of familiarity laced throughout the soundtrack, placed expertly to reminisce of the past, and also to remind you how long ago it was.

The composition and instrumentation of Peaceful Sleep recalls Song of the Ancients (Devola), but it’s not a one to one recreation. Likewise, Wretched Weaponry and The Wretched Automatons share the same percussion and atmosphere. For anyone who played the first game, comparisons to these old places, these old experiences are hard to ignore. And considering that the game deals with characters who continually repeat humanities mistakes…

Automata’s music does, so, SO well at creating a sense of place, of conveying emotion, of being memorable, and of being different and weird. I don’t know many games that feature a score that features vocals as loud and prominent as the Drakengard/Nier games. And props have to go to the dynamic elements of the music, with songs becoming more layered and complex as intensity rises, and also having 8-bit remixes of almost every track in the game, with which the game will seamlessly transition at a literal button’s press.

It’s pretty good.

Also, J’Nique killed it on Weight of the World.


#13

NieR: Automata

It’s the same composers that did an amazing job on NieR and made the soundtrack one of the most talked-about, enduring things from the original game.

As a composer, I appreciate the small and large touches through Automata’s songs referencing NieR’s original soundtrack.

The dynamic music layers are so incredibly detailed and thoughtful that Automata is, technically, the very definition of great game music; music that should react to and evolve with the player, and it continues surprising throughout. I wrote a whole topic in this forum earlier this year about the technical process NieR: Automata uses to dynamically transform and blend every song on the soundtrack with an 8-bit version of itself, an incredible effort for a very small touch that boggles the mind at its presence.

The melodies and instrumentation are top-notch, putting most games (yes, most) that go orchestral in style to shame. And it’s not even a real orchestra being used here most of the time. The high-flying battle music, beautiful vocal performances and incredibly powerful leitmotifs easily nab this category, even if you don’t think the dynamic stuff is that impressive.

The ending song is sung in a choir by the entire game’s development team which has extra significance you’ll know if you’ve finished.

The song below makes me feel indescribably soft, safe, warm. I feel like I could just break, but I won’t because it’s telling me that I am strong and that I am worth something.


#14

I’ve never played a game whose integration of sound and music hit me the way NieR: Automata did.

The boss sequences are unparalleled in their use of sound effects, voicework, and music, and the transitions between and within each of these components are truly something special. I would never try to argue that the best tracks of this year from games like Pyre or Persona 5 are not as good as the tracks from NieR, it’s the overall experience - the intense, evocative usage of sound in sequences like The Tower or Ending E - that pushes NieR far above the rest of the competition this year.

I’m also biased because I tear up almost instantaneously when I listen to Wretched Weaponry. I haven’t put down this soundtrack in the six months since I beat the game, and I don’t plan to for many to come. And hey, if I’m not here to nominate the only game music of 2017 that makes me cry, what else am I here for?

Also, since it’s the theme of these recent posts, I’ll add one of my favorite examples for your consideration (spoilers for route A):


#15

Persona 5

What makes the sound track work is that it fits the mood perfectly to the situation like Beneath the Mask during casual strolls, Wicked Plan for when the phantom thieves are plotting, and the best of all Last Surprise to get you into the fight.


#16

Nier: Automata

I mean just…the three different versions of the credits song and one final version with all three singers uniting (which ties into the theme of the final credits)


#17

This is probably the tightest category for me and my feelings might change immediately after I hit post, but I think right now my nomination is…Persona 5

I admittedly still haven’t made enough time for NieR, and while Breath of the Wild’s music was spectacular it hasn’t stuck with me the way Persona’s has. That’s probably not a fair metric- Zelda’s sparse orchestrations more naturally blend into the background and that’s exactly their job.

But Persona’s soundtrack is still on my phone, still gets regular play, and I still find myself whistling Life Will Change all the damn time. I can’t really argue with that.


#18

Rakuen

This is the second time today that I’ve repped it, but I think Rakuen’s really special and will be overlooked among other games this year, so I’m gonna nominate it here in the hope that someone else has played and appreciated it.

Though it just generally has good music including some very effective vocal songs, what really got me is the songs that end each part of the game, where the person you were helping sings about their problem and are generally directed at someone else in their life. Like the game overall, they’re more than a little cheesy but heartfelt as well, and build up to become one overlapping final song that cements that you’ve ended your journey.


#20

Nomination: Cup Head

raspy swing voice: oooh I’m Mr. King Die!


#21

NieR: Automata

This Cannot Continue hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s one impressive piece out of many in that game.