A soundtrack isn’t always grand orchestral anthems, or dub-step ridden trailers, but if you are going to do it, do it right. This year’s best music came from every angle, with some of the best tunes appearing from unexpected avenues. From big name composers, to covers from bands fifty years ago, these are our favourite soundtracks from 2013.
5. Saints Row IV
If you are going to lave your game in electronic beats, and music you listen to ‘ironically’, at least do it well. This is what Saints Row IV does, and it does it with enough pomp and bravado that it ends up adding to its charm, when it would take it away from other games. The fun of curb-stomping digi-gangsters to Haddaway only makes Saints Row IV’s childish sense of humour that much funnier. If 80’s cheese-tunes aren’t your flavour, the rest of the licenced music will probably have you covered. Special care and attention given to the electronica music only aids the games tone in frolicking through a Matrix style world created by a 16 year old. If this is the end of the Saints Row franchise, at least it went out with style.
4. Sonic: Lost World
As the phrase rattles on, “you gotta go fast”. It is rather surprising then that Sonic: Lost World’s soundtrack covers a range of genres, while also keeping up such a relentless pace. Sometimes you are whizzing along to pulsing synth of Sky Road, while at other times you dash to the upbeat jazz of Frozen Factory. Even though this may sound scattered, and perhaps gimmicky, Tomoya Ohtani, Takahito Eguchi, and Naofumi Hataya do a fantastic job of tying it all together. Sonic: Lost World may have divided fans once again, but at least you played it to some entertaining tracks.
3. Rayman: Legends
It would be easy just to cite the music levels and be done with it, which is very tempting, but Rayman: Legends other music is also worthy of praise. The phrase “like a Saturday morning cartoon” is thrown around a lot, but if the shoe fits is the case with this one. Rayman: Legends is exactly that, a stupid adventure where you slap things, use your hair to fly and other wacky stuff. The music and sound design do a great job of adding to this, from the James Bond style music during stealth based levels, to the gleefully romping through a fantasy jungle. Christophe Heral’s score has the same level of care and attention we have come to expect from him, which we will hopefully see again as time goes one. If anything sells this game though, it will always be the Black Betty level.
2. Bioshock Infinite
Featuring both a score that inspires awe as you first enter Columbia, as well as an anachronistic set of songs from the last 60 years, Garry Schyman undoubtedly knocked it out of the park when composing Bioshock Infinite. It underpinned some of the games stand-out moments when songs such as Fortunate Son, by Creedance Clearwater Revival, helped to cement the titles variety of topics. This is along with the heavy usage of the Christian Hymn, Let The Circle Be Unbroken, it tied the games themes and ideas into one neat package that made the city of Columbia a little more fantastical.
1. Ni No Kuni
While sweeping orchestral scores were mentioned during the introduction, and the industry has no shortage of them, if you are going to do one, make sure you are going to be the best at it. Composer Joe Hisaishi brings the same level expertise he does to film, to the games industry. With work extremely reminiscent of his work with Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni’s score is nothing short of pure excellence. Walking across open plains, and deserts, evokes a sense of childlike wonder, while also feeling grand, and for lack of a better word, epic. There may not be a game like Ni No Kuni again for some time, but we hope either Hisaishi returns to score more games, or other composers can match the quality of his work.
What do you think? Do you agree, or disagree with our list? Perhaps you have a favourite song from the year that couldn’t be mentioned? If so, tell us in the comments, or vote in our poll below.