Waypoint Weeklies: Games Soundtracks to study/relax to

My focus music needs a beat that helps my brain slice up time. (Probably an ADHD thing?) Fortunately the sort of electronic music that shows up in game soundtracks often does the job. Some go-tos: Master Spy by RAC, Brigador by Makeup and Vanity Set, Shatter by Module.

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The Disasterpeace soundtracks to Fez and Hyper Light Drifter are both things I’ll put on when I need to focus and get shit done, especially now that I work from home on a permanent basis.

I tried playing Hyper Light Drifter a few weeks ago and it felt really weird because that’s the music I associate with an overwhelming amount of data entry now.

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I tend to find VGM too distracting since I eventually get familiar enough with the tunes that I start jamming out to them rather than focusing on my work. So I end up seeking out chill/ambient music from games I haven’t heard or played yet, and then cycle them out when I catch myself starting to hum along to them. Here are a few in my rotation at the moment.

  • This is a really cool one from a strange and obscure PS1 game called Iblard: Laputa No Kaeru Machi. It’s super 90s, new age-y, and is nondescript enough that it fades into the background easily. Might also be good to trip out to tbh, haven’t tried it yet.
  • The Dawn Of Mana OST, especially the opening track by DA GAWD Ryuichi Sakamoto. it’s just super slow and chill. I’ve heard the game sucks so I’m never playing it, but damn if the OST isn’t a valuable relaxant.
  • Almost done with this song since I’m already humming along with it, but Day At The Academy from Enchanted Arms really nailed that lofi chill beats to study along to vibe, a decade before that even became a thing.
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I write to music, occasionally video game music, so I have almost too many answers to this thread. I’ll pick a couple of favorite and then list a bunch of others at the bottom.

Pokemon GSC - Dark Cave / Idk what it is, but something about this track — which is supposed to be kind of terrifying I think, since it accompanies a cave filled with nothing but inky blackness and Zubat (well and Dunsparce) — but it just puts me in this state of total concentration. Maybe it’s so successful at being suffocating it tricks my brain into hyperfocusing on one task. Wrote most of my undergrad thesis to this one, along with the regular Johto trainer battle music.

Into the Breach - Old War Machines / There’s something incredibly soothing about this track, and it does the same general thing to my emotional state as a warm bath or a nice blanket.

That Old Train Ride (Half-Life 2 remix) / This one might be cheating as it’s a remix of a bunch of tracks from the HL2 soundtrack, but it’s just such a peaceful, mournful, beautiful track.

Others: Haltija (Forza Horizon 4), Golden Ridge Golden Feather Mix (Celeste), City of Tears (Hollow Knight), Drenched Bluff, Brine Cave, and Temporal Tower (PMD: Explorers) (honestly, basically every song from PMD would fit here), Entei’s Rampage (Pokemon Ranger).

Oh… and I almost forgot the best of them all. Majula. No other words necessary.

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I don’t often put on music when I’m trying to concentrate, definitely moreso when I’m trying to relax. That said, even when I’m relaxing, most of the stuff I listen to I personally wouldn’t call lo-fi, but the Donut County soundtrack is one of the chiller soundtracks I’ll put on. There are some energetic tracks in the bunch, but you also have more toned down stuff like this :relieved:

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When I was doing my postgrad I rinsed the Nier Automata soundtrack playlists I could find on Soundcloud for a good 6-8 months.

The first track which came to mind tho when I think of relaxing tho is:

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I present the greatest programming soundtrack ever written.

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some great relaxing tracks in the Outer Wilds soundtrack

also for some reason, even though I haven’t revisited the game at all, the intro track from Mirror’s edge is one I go back to a lot

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For me, there’s a lot of music from games that is really helpful for concentration and relaxation. I think that might have to do with how songs are often made to loop, so they can’t be especially bombastic and catchy, but also need to find a way to not feel repetitive. In that vein, the background stuff from the Kentucky Route Zero Soundtrack is an excellent example. It has a great range, with some songs being almost formless, to others that are smooth jazz pastiche.

Another great soundtrack that I’ve found myself coming back to for concentration purposes is the Dujanah Soundtrack. There’s so much variation in style and genre, so the intrusive thought of “this is getting repetitive” never enters my brain. It’s just really good music from front to back!

This last one might be cheating, but it’s also the one I’ve spent the most time listening to, so what the heck! re:treat, Leon Chang’s album of remixed tracks from the Animal Crossing: New Leaf soundtrack is my go to work music. The light hip hop beats and charming samples somehow make songs that were already impossibly homey and inviting feel even more like a warm blanket around your shoulders. It’s really great!

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The Dujanah score is so so good. I will say I have a really hard time focusing on anything else if it’s on because there’s always something different around the corner, like even this piece which is relatively chilled out, is also just constantly evolving and creating interest through varying rhythmic patterns

All said, I try listening to it and working at the same time, but it proves to be a difficult thing to do!

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Surviving Mars has a great chill soundtrack.

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Genshin Impact is good at this for me right now. Lots of stuff worth skimming through.

Current “repetitive task” music: the Blue Archive soundtrack.

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The NEOTOKYO OST defender has logged on

I’m not sure what genre this falls into but I haven’t found anything that sounds quite like it since. I keep coming back to it and will continue to keep coming back to it. The fact that this was Ed Harrison’s very first attempt at doing mixing and mastering along with music that wasn’t midi is absolutely incredible. He’s since gone on to do 0edit, TGR Fuel (which might actually be my favorite album of his), and he did some music for DeusEx Mankind Divided.

My go to study playlist through college was the NEOTOKYO OST and now includes all of his tracks after I discovered he was still making newer stuff.


I have never played Chrono Trigger but there is something about this song that makes me nostalgically sad every time I hear it.

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As someone who’s increasingly looking for music to grade papers to, I’ll most certainly be keeping on eye on this thread.

I wanna echo the Persona 5 recommendation; those soundtracks are basically their own “chill beats to study to” channel, barring the occasional boss theme that ramps up the intensity. I also remember Celeste having some good, relaxing vibes in its soundtrack, though I haven’t listened to that OST in a while.

EDIT: Just noticed someone had already mentioned Celeste; doesn’t change the recommendation, just wanted to acknowledge that I’m seconding the suggestion.

thirding the persona 5 rec

That first Genshin Impact song reminds me of the Viva Pinata soundtrack, which is my answer for this. Grant Kirkhope is a good composer, who could have known. https://youtu.be/Y_7nRrnNjTs

I can’t get any work done to The Outer Wilds soundtrack because it makes me unbearably wistful.

I use the Animal Crossing Music chrome extension which can be set to reflect the time of day and weather of your physical location. It’s very soothing.

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People have already mentioned many of the things I would: Celeste, KR0, Into The Breach (and, actually a lot of Ben Prunty’s other stuff - FTL also has some good music on this front).

Adding new stuff: I recently re-discovered that I own the Analogue: A Hate Story soundtrack, and that’s really good as background music that’s not too “intense”.

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For something relaxing, I really like the music from Blades of the Shogun, or the less dramatic tracks from Hollow Knight. The Eidolon and Viridi soundtracks are also pleasant, but I haven’t listened to them as much since I haven’t played the games.

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Reminded me of another Mars game with good chill music:

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