As everyone concentrates on spectacular special effects and shiny visuals, music often isn’t given enough credit. It can affect us on an emotional and instinctual level. It can create or reawaken memories. And it can make pretty much anything better, whether that’s an advert, a movie, or a game. Here at TSA it is of course games that we’re most interested in, and there’s been a bevy of audio-centric releases this year that have accompanied their gameplay with the musical equivalent of Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic.
The Artful Escape is a game about self discovery, but it’s also fundamentally a game about music. Fortunately its accompanying audio vibes are perfectly matched to the heady space opera visuals that blast from your screen. Amusingly, the opening folk track that serves as a clear counterpoint to everything else that follows it is so good that you’ll find yourself stuck at the menu screen for at least five minutes.
The soundtrack goes full Bowie concept album, by way of Rush, Porcupine Tree, and Pink Floyd. Its seething and soaring electric guitar licks are interposed by swooping synth that come together in ever-more extraordinary crescendos. You use your own controller to play along with events, while boss battles turn guitar licks into Simon Says-style memory games. With every growing auditory explosion, The Artful Escape burrows its way further into your own memory.
– Dom L
Persona 5 Strikers – Runner Up
Persona 5 is widely acclaimed for it’s soundtrack. Just as Persona 5 Strikers takes the franchise in a new direction with it’s Musuo gameplay, the game takes the jazz fusion vibes of the original and riffs on it. Specifically guitar riffs. The heavier, rock soundtrack lends itself well to the fast-paced action, reimagining the soundtrack with the same level of excellence as Strikers’ gameplay.
But Strikers is not just a remix of the original’s soundtrack, a bevvy of new tracks give Strikers its own distinct feel — just listen to the opening track if you want a feel of something new, but if you want genuine chills, listen to the rock version of Rivers in the Desert.
– Nic B
JETT: The Far Shore – Runner Up
There’s a glorious otherworldly element to JETT: The Far Shore, and that’s fitting considering the game’s intergalactic exploration schtick. Coming from Superbrothers A/V, the guys behind Sword & Sworcery, you know before you’ve even started the game that the audio is going to be something special. It most certainly is. JETT: The Far Shore’s soundtrack comes straight from the mind of composer C Andrew Rohrmann, otherwise known as scntfc, and its haunting melodies and evocative soundscapes marry perfectly with the bleak and wondrous worlds at the heart of the game.
Marrying synth-soaked progressions with more traditional orchestration, the soundtrack invites comparisons with sci-fi cinema classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey through to modern examples of the genre like Tom Cruise’s Oblivion, and as such it feels utterly authentic. It’s tender, emotionally resonant, and at moments deliciously transient, while in the next it’s languid, immovable and perpetual. Without a doubt, JETT: The Far Shore is one of the best game soundtracks of the year.
– Dom L
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
What soundtracks have stood out for you this year? Which games have graced your tender earlobes in the most delightful way? Let us know in the comments below.