The finest game soundtracks... ever!

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KwisatzHaderach
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You know how david mentioned that “Music is somehow at the core of the game”? I think so too. And you know how david recently asked “[What is] the greatest game of all time”? It made me think. What exactly was so compelling about the games I’d pick, why do I still remember them 10 years on? Looking at my selection* I came to realise one thing: they nearly all feature a great soundtrack that I still listen to today.

This is in no way meant to diminish the wonders done by game developers, its aim is rather to inflame discussion about a topic that I think is somewhat underrepresented in gaming forums: how soundtracks can amplify the emotional bonding with a game.

A brilliant soundtrack can turn a really good game into that one game that sticks with you, that you still get excited about when you see it randomly mentioned on the internets, years after you actually played it. Something that is happening to me right now with Bastion: I played the game, had a lot of fun and especially liked the music. I regularly listen to the tracks, even learned some of the tabs and lyrics and I’m pretty certain that in ten years time, I’d go “ahh, Bastion, that really was a lovely game!” whenever I hear these tunes again.

This time around (meaning GoaT) it is a little different, as I first get to experience (some) of the (surely incredible) soundtrack and later on the game designer's vision of things. I'm curious as to how this will work out...

Anyway, after all this babble, I'd be most curious to know if there's anyone else with an opinion about this. Post your disagreement below :P



*
Little Big Adventure II
Archimedean Dynasty (Schleichfahrt)
Dark Forces II
Gothic II
Risen I
Faster than light
Dishonored
Natural Selection II (incredibly well done asymmetrical team based FPS/RTS hybrid)
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Avo
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Of course, music is a very large part, because it sets the mood. Just try to play a game with music turned off. Very dull.

Another awesome game, turned unforgettable is "To The Moon" - the music is such a large part of that game.
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david
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I totally agree, game music is really a big part of certain types of games! It will continue as games evolve, with more depth and emotional content. Indies have played a big part in this, with indie and mainstream titles like Dear Esther, To The Moon, Heavy Rain and Journey.

In fact, because of my (mostly) shooter background, I haven't heard too many great game soundtracks. So, yesterday afternoon I had Bastion and To The Moon playing in the background while I worked... really impressive!

As for me, I'd like to nominate the beautiful, relaxing score for Thomas Was Alone.
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evilkinggumby
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Sorry to Necro Post this. For some reason this popped up as 'unread' as if it was a new thread in my account.. And I don't think I ever noticed it before. *duh* on me.

For game soundtracks, I rather appreciate Persona 3 and 4's soundtracks. I don't have the official OST for p3 but I got it free with p4 and even ripped all music from the game dvd and burned it to a mp3 cd to listen to at times in the car. Oddly enough in doing that, almost every song from P3 is on the P4 game disk and there's a couple songs I am pretty sure were not in the game at all...

I dunno why but I just feel oddly at home and happy with that as background sound..lol.

I got the boxed limited edition of Diablo II when it first released, so I've had that soundtrack and listened to it FOREVER. also some great tunes in there, and they made it blend across the whole cd so nicely. Doesn't work well on random though.

I liked some of the themes in FF8 as well. I'm currently sporatically replaying it on Steam (with a few handy patches/mods).
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Seith
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"Icewind Dale" comes to mind. "Gothic 3"'s soundtrack is also very good.

But the soundtrack for "Outcast" (the 1999 voxel game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62l0cKG2QjQ) was magnificent. Properly epic with full-on symphonic orchestra and choir, imbuing the feeling you're starring in a Spielberg movie.

I'd be curious to know what Jeremiah's opinion would be...
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david
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@EvilKing...For FF8, the variety and dynamism of it is remarkable. Some of it is utterly amazing! I couldn't quite wrap my ears around Persona 3 & 4. I'm wild for the Persona aesthetic, but it may be that I'm more of a bass addict when it comes to sounds.

@Seith... that was also really interesting. I had a listen to Icewind Dale, Outcast, Gothic 2 & 3 soundtracks. They are impressive, and Outcast is, as you say, hugely cinematic... you do definitely get the sense of a spectacular hollywood movie :D

I'm also really keen to hear Jeremiah's perspective :mrgreen:
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JeremiahPena
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Somehow I managed to miss this discussion for a while. I'm not as well versed in game scores as I am in film scores. Some of my favorites have already been mentioned, Journey and Dear Esther. Journey is gorgeous, with that one terrifying track (Nadir), which I sometimes listen to on repeat. Dear Esther strikes an amazing balance between beauty and eerie darkness. I'm also very much a fan of minimalism, and Jessica Curry did a great job in that department as well.

Bioshock Infinite is another I'd list, with truly brutal action material and emotional cues well handled by a small chamber string ensemble. Garry Schyman also often writes beautiful melodies underlined with eerie undulating backdrops (listen to "Lighter Than Air" for a great example), which is an approach you'll likely hear in GoaT. ;)

I really like Assassin's Creed II, by Jesper Kyd. I think it's still the best score of the series, with a very unique voice that was lost when they switched around composers later.

A bit of a strange choice, but I adore the World of Goo soundtrack. A lot of the music wasn't written for the game, but for other projects Kyle Gabler worked on, and later brought in. It's a great example of music truly elevating the experience, especially for a puzzle game, and creating some surprisingly touching emotional moments. (Plus, it's free to download from his site: http://kylegabler.com/WorldOfGooSoundtrack/, with some nice track commentary.)

As someone who loves ambient music, Limbo is one of my top favorites (also one of my favorite game experiences). A standout moment is "Rotating Room," with some really frightening sounds, while trying to navigate a spinning room with saw blades everywhere. The music builds to a crescendo, and then instantly drops into a calm ambient pad when you escape the room.

Alan Wake is very cinematic, with a very nicely recorded live string section. A while back Humble Bundle did an Alan Wake bundle, with tons of extra content, including the pdf conductor's score, which I spent quite a bit of time studying.

There's quite a few more I haven't mentioned which I really like but don't qualify for the finest ever.
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evilkinggumby
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OK now I need to check out and research some of these Jeremiah listed. :)

I have Dear Esther on steam, haven't tried it yet. May make that the first to peruse. Journey had GREAT music, despite the fact I don't recall much of it. It adds to the experience, and that in itself I recall on more of an emotional level (it's weird how emotional memories seem to stay better than other sense memories...)

I have Bioshock Infinite to check but I want to plow through the first game first. I have it.. installled and set up.. just need to hunker down and play it. :)

Assassins' creed I've seen some of, and they do seem to put a lot of effort into their tunes, though I don't rightly recall the stuff 5 minutes after playing. hehehe

I have Alan Wake on my xbox, and I did like the audio on that, worked well with the visuals and overall looming atmosphere. Similar to that, I like some of the stuff they did for the Silent Hill games (music wise). There is a song Called "Room of Angels" that is such a quiet yet spiteful song. The contrast between the tone of the music, th singer,and the lyrics always amazes me..I find it so powerful and fascinating. Here is the chorus:

Here's a lullaby to close your eyes (goodbye)
It was always you that I despised
I don't feel enough for you to cry (oh well)
Here's a lullaby to close your eyes (goodbye)
Goodbye...
Goodbye...

That kind of contrast reminds me of "Flower" by Liz Phair, but for very different reasons. (warning, if you go look it up, NSFW).
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Alberto
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I like the works of Aubrey Hodges and Sonic Mayhem - mainly their contributions to the Doom and Quake series, respectively.

The original Resident Evil has a superb soundtrack.

Apocalypse has a nice soundtrack, too.

An old, unsuccessful RPG with nice musics?
Amulets&Armor.

I know this thread is about game music, but I can't help but mention the musics in the movie Street Trash.
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I can't believe it! I almost forgot Blood!
Its soundtrack is beautiful...
Unholy Voices is the best song, IMHO.

Oh, this one is pretty famous...
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evilkinggumby
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Sonic Mayhem - Hella kool. Fell in love with that stuff a long time ago.

Blood is such a great game.. Haven't sampled the soundtrack in a long time, I'll have to give it a spin. :)
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david
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I took a couple of the aforementioned soundtracks for a spin on YouTube. Blood really is outstanding.

I even started watching Street Trash, that's one... unusual... movie! :shock:
Alberto
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Alien Trilogy

Guilty Gear

Syphon Filter 2

Die Hard Trilogy

Psychon ( a Net Yaroze title...)

Apocalypse

Quake 2

Millennium Soldier

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem Time to Kill (intro)

Castlevania SOTN (Masterpiece!)

Ace Combat 3

Ridge Racer Type 4

Time Splitters (Beautiful! BTW: the soundtrack is way better than the game itself...)
Vallug
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If you guys have played the first Bioshock...Cohen's Scherzo No. 7. *SPOILERS* The piece the guy stuck to the piano plays for Sander Cohen before he explodes form the dynamite strapped to him.
Also the whole Shadow of the Colossus soundtrack. I'm in college now and I've found that I work much more productively while listening to it.
Also the Dark Souls OST, especially Great Grey Wolf Sif.
Also Portal 2's ending piece.
Also Demon's Souls OST.
Sorry.
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david
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@Kandu... I love the voices on the Dark/Demon Souls soundtrack, and the quiet and understated melodic moments. It's a shame that the Time Splitters remake seems to be shelved while Crytek sorts itself out... I loved playing Goldeneye (made by some of the same team) on my Nintendo 64, which is now part of Crytek.

@Alberto.. that is a whole bunch of heavyweights from an era, I'd enjoy playing some well-executed remakes of quite a few of these titles too. Coincidentally, I downloaded Ace Combat Assault Horizons last night on Steam, and I'm looking forward to some fun with it! :mrgreen:
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This piece from Serious Sam 3 is quite evocative.
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david
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Alberto wrote:This piece from Serious Sam 3 is quite evocative.
very cinematic :D
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The original Tomb Raider has what is probably the best good-tracks-to-total-tracks ratio in the entire gaming history.

Its successors aren't that good, however TRIII has some evocative moments as well...
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david
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@Alberto... you are so right, that original Tomb Raider soundtrack is really nice listening... apart from the last couple of tunes
Alianin
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Since I just recently finished Bioshock Infinite, it's the first that comes to mind. One of the musical highlights of the game is when the player goes through the memorial gardens and pieces of Mozart's Requiem plays when you enter each room. The piece playing lends itself to the feelings of each of the rooms. Other highlights include music playing on the radio that is old timey versions of modern music. Artists include CCR, The Beach Boys, Tears for Fears, R.E.M. and Cyndi Lauper. There's a story reason for it, if you find the voxophone.

Other games with music that has impressed itself on me are the Ultima series, specifically "Stones" and the Dune soundtrack.
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david
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@Vallug... I'm so sorry, I must've gotten confused while typing on my cell phone. I was actually replying to you, not Kandu. On top of that, somehow I mashed in my reply to Alberto's Time Splitters reference into my reply to you: what utter nonsense it probably seemed :D

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@ Alianine... dammit, partly because I was playing on my laptop with small speakers but mostly because I'm usually oblivious to game/movie soundtracks, I didn't even notice the Bioshock Infinite (BI) soundtrack: not a single note. I know this will seem like a barbaric heresy for normal-eared folk, but for me even the finest music just disappears into the background unless I actively listen to it while not doing something else (playing a game, reading, watching a movie, studying, working etc.). I'm an ok listener and I like good music, but regrettably I'm a cloth-eared dolt when it comes to multitasking.

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However, I suspect that the Bioshock Infinite soundtract is good -or at the least, very clever- because the other aspects of art direction were so excellent (I just couldn't get into the title because the gameplay didn't grab me personally, I think it was the uninspired AI... apart from Elizabeth). Personally, I found the BI story just fine -even very good- for a videogame. Interestingly, Seith didn't like the BI story, and was even moved enough to write a blog post on SeithCG about it. Honestly, I think his expectations for game stories are higher than mine. In addition his sensibilities with regard to storytelling may be more refined than mine too.

Anyway, I'll have a listen to the BI soundtrack!

By the way, THE Kwisatz Haderach is actually a member here on the GoaT forum, so he'll be exceedingly pleased that you appreciate his music. I just had a listen and I really like 'Stones' :D

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JeremiahPena
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@David, Not hearing the Bioshock Infinite soundtrack isn't quite as egregious as when a friend of mine managed to play through all of Portal with the sound entirely turned off. He asked me later why everyone thought it was such a hilarious game. I just facepalmed.
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Alianin
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Speaking of Portal, I love this version of Still Alive.

To me a good game without music is like watching a suspense/thriller with the sound off. It's just not as good. Good music helps with immersion and creates a more memorable experience.

Bioshock Infinite had great art and music, even if the story lacked cohesion and credibility at times. I was willing to overlook it. Suspension of disbelief and all. ;) Watch this clip that shows the great imagery and music coming together to tell a story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aInPv1OIYYs
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KwisatzHaderach
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david wrote: By the way, THE Kwisatz Haderach is actually a member here on the GoaT forum, so he'll be exceedingly pleased that you appreciate his music. I just had a listen and I really like 'Stones' :D

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Oh, hullo, chaps... errr.... my Fedaykin I mean! Sorry, I was a little distracted over the last months, Chani made me clean up the Sietch (I spilled a little Harkonnen blood). I hope I'll have more time in the coming weeks.

The Dune OST is indeed amazing, if a little too pomous and kitschy in places. Be advised that there are two versions of the soundtrack, both differing in content and recording quality. I can't remember which one of the two had issues with mastering and hence had some terrible wobbling to it. I was always used listening to the "bad" version" and when I finally "found" the "good" version, I couldn't believe my ears. The sound is just that much more brilliant and clear!
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david
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@Jeremiah and Alinain... I probably heard the music, and it certainly influenced my playtime experience, but I just didn't really listen to it. Yes, I realise to you that I'm a gross barbarian... hideous...



@Kwisatz... we understand you've been busy with your various exotic duties, and welcome back! :mrgreen:
Alberto
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Max Payne 2

Killing Zoe (not a game... this one - "Z Names" is nice, though)
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Many of the point & click adventure games from the 90s (the only genre I played at the time), especially from before voices were introduced, were made with the realisation that aside from a sound effect here and there, you would really not hear much at all otherwise. Sierra and LucasArts came up with some catchy tunes. I still find myself humming the Monkey Island theme every now and then.

As for a bit more immersive, I would look at the Myst series.

The 7th Guest managed to capture athmosphere quite nicely.

Honestly, with notable exceptions, like the aforementioned Journey, and its spiritual predecessor Flower being excellent examples, for game soundtracks I tend to look back in time a bit more.
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