Music is one of the most underrated aspects of video game development, but a great soundtrack can often elevate an experience to new heights, adding real emotion to scenes and engaging the player on a more subconscious level.
But sometimes the best soundtrack is the one that gets your toe tapping the hardest and that you’d happily listen to on your daily commute.
Plenty of rhythm games have soundtracks jam-packed with iconic, licensed music. The Persona Dancing games take that one step further by having their tracklists made up almost entirely of jamming, electronic-fused remixes of the original songs from their respective Persona titles. It’s an awesome formula that has spawned some of my favorite video game music in recent years, and the soundtrack of Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night is no exception.
For many Persona fans, the original Persona 3 RPG already has their favorite music from the series. It’s full of funky, foot-tapping tracks and a heaping helping of incredible J-rock and J-rap. It’s already the perfect soundtrack to be slapped into a music game, but Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night takes those fresh beats and mixes them into somehow even fresher and funkier beats.
There’s a variety of styles presented in the new remixes made for Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night, from regular electronic flows to crunchy, overwhelming dubstep tracks. Iconic boss battle music is turned into upbeat dance standards, while slow and somber songs are flipped around into fast and block-rocking beats.
Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night is a collection of some of the most creative and addictive video game songs I’ve heard in ages, and it’s a jam-packed love letter to the impact and importance of the original Persona 3 soundtrack. This is a soundtrack where you get to hear Jet Set Radio composer Hideki Naganuma put his own spin on the Persona soundtrack, and it is so damn good.
– Miguel M
God of War – Runner Up
There’s nothing quite like a huge, sweeping orchestral score, and even God of War’s announcement at E3 2016 brought that by the bucket load. The deep choral voices and booming drums that have featured since the series’ beginning return, though none of the original series’ actual music does, but there’s now a distinct Nordic lilt to the motifs that it draws upon.
As much as God of War was about reinventing the series around a new, more meaningful story for Kratos, the same had to be true of the soundtrack and Bear McCreary delivers an almost effortless blend of the old and the new.
Tetris Effect – Runner Up
As much as visuals or storytelling, music in games can be just as, or even more effective at transporting you to different worlds. Tetris Effect’s soundtrack is as good an example as any. This is a collection of music that’s both immersive and transportive; matched perfectly with the visuals to draw players into a zen-like trance. Add Virtual Reality into the mix and a decent pair of headphones and there’s few aural experiences like it, removing the outside world from the equation broadening and extending the experience.
The game largely focusses on deep beats and emotional vocals, with tempo changes eliciting heart-pounding increases in difficulty. While the range skews towards the electronic end of the spectrum there are some moments of surprising palette cleansers like City Lights by Downtown Jazz which turns its level into a freeform jazz breakdown, while elsewhere the vocals of Kate Brady bring soaring moments of emotional parity.
Just as with Mizuguchi’s other games Rez and Lumines, music is integral to the very function of the game itself with the player adding their own elements to the soundtrack with every turn or drop of a block, making them a part of the music rather than a mere passenger. It’s a stunning achievement.
– Dom L
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory
- Floor Kids
Soundtracks and musical preference are such a personal thing, so what have been some of your favourites of the year? Let us know in the comments below.