The Top 10 Best Video Game Soundtracks EVER!
Published August 29, 2023
Ah, video game music—where would we be without you? Still playing games probably, but silently and awkwardly so. It is mesmerizing how far music has come in video games. Like the reasons mentioned in our blog about the Impact of Music in Commercials, music in video games enhances the gameplay, helps set the tone, creates a pace, and enriches the storytelling. We know that narrowing down the best video game soundtracks of all time to just 10 is a very subjective pursuit. However, after consulting our team of music supervisors, film/TV trailer composers, video game composers, and, of course, the internet, we conjured up our list of the 10 best video game soundtracks of all time. So, grab your controller and headphones, and let’s dive in.
The Top 10 Best Video Game Soundtracks EVER!
Oh, Tetris, the game that made falling blocks as addictive as your favorite earworm. One of the most remarkable aspects of Tetris' music is its simplicity. The melodies are straightforward yet incredibly catchy, facilitating both concentration and relaxation. This unique balance helps players immerse themselves in the game without feeling overwhelmed, an essential quality for a puzzle game that demands sharp focus. The most famous track, "Type A," is based on the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki," which is a nod to the game's Russian origins. The music evolves in real-time, contributing to the game's escalating excitement or in our case, frustration. In summary, the soundtrack of Tetris is a masterclass in how to do a lot with a little.
The Last of Us is a sonic masterpiece! The themes driving this post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested universe are survival, loss, and hope. Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, The Last of Us is praised for its emotional impact on all ends. For us though, it was the music that infected us the most (pun intended). From the iconic acoustic guitar featured throughout to the seamless integration between the music and sound effects, The Last of Us creates a holistic audio experience. Needless to say, the cinematic underscore to Joel and Ellie's emotional rollercoaster, earns it an ongoing standing ovation in our list of the best video game soundtracks.
When it comes to epic video game soundtracks, God of War isn’t playing around. Well, except for the game it’s part of. The score is intricately crafted to align with the game's themes of war, family, and fate. The use of haunting melodies and powerful orchestration reflects the emotional journey of the protagonist, Kratos. We also must make note of the instrumentation! Utilizing a combination of traditional Norse instruments such as the Nyckelharpa and Hardanger fiddle, along with full orchestral arrangements, the music immerses the player in a rich and authentic Nordic soundscape.
Crafted by the mad musical scientist Mick Gordon, the score for Doom is like the energy drink of video game music. It's loud, it's relentless, and it makes you want to slay demons. The music employs an innovative mix of 8-string guitar riffs, synthesizers, and heavily processed drum sounds to create a sonic landscape that feels both futuristic and gritty. It’s also incredibly adaptable. The music roars in triumph while taking down demons and makes you hold your breath while sneaking around a corner. In a nutshell, it is the 24/7 adrenaline rush in our list of the best video game soundtracks of all time.
In Fallout, one of the key elements to the soundtrack’s success is its blend of retro and futuristic styles. The soundtrack combines 1940s and '50s era music with ambient, post-apocalyptic sounds, creating a dichotomy that perfectly mirrors the game's setting: a futuristic world destroyed by nuclear war, yet stuck in a sort of mid-20th-century cultural stasis. I guess you could say that the Fallout soundtrack is the bee's knees.
Moving right along with apocalyptic video games, we have Bastion. Composed by Darren Korb, the music is as if someone threw folk, rock, and electronic music into a blender and hit the 'Pure Awesomeness' button. The soundtrack also features vocal tracks that deepen the narrative. This is particularly effective because the game itself has a strong storytelling element, narrated by a voice-over that follows the player's actions. To sum it up: the Bastion soundtrack isn't just music, it's an integral part of the game's DNA and a must in our list of best video game soundtracks of all time.
Mandolin? Check. Accordion? You betcha. Mouth harp? Oh yeah, it's there! Silent Hill composed by Akira Yamaoka uses instruments you’d expect to hear in a quirky European café in this survival horror video game. These unconventional choices resonate deeply with the narrative's themes of distorted reality and existential dread. It's not just "background music" but an integral part of the storytelling mechanism, making it a must-feature on our list of top 10 best video game soundtracks.
Grab your oversized sword and strap on your chocobo saddle, because we're diving into the symphonic wonderland of the Final Fantasy series. The music catalog in this series is like a genre-defying Spotify playlist. It’s got it all: sweeping orchestral numbers, rock-inspired battle anthems, and electronic tracks. The strength of Final Fantasy music lies in its ability to evoke a wide range of emotions. And just like your favorite TV series, Final Fantasy uses recurring motifs—little musical Easter eggs that pop up across games, tying the series together like a well-placed plot twist.
Ah, nostalgia! The music from The Legend of Zelda sticks to your brain like that stubborn piece of gum on the sole of your shoe. Except, you know, you actually want it there. You’ll find yourself humming the "Song of Storms" during a downpour or quietly playing the "Zelda Lullaby" to your houseplants. Now, let’s talk about Koji Kondo, the musical sorcerer behind the game. Through leitmotifs, Kondo manages to evoke specific emotions, be it the tranquility of a pastoral setting or the tension of a looming battle. Needless to say, this game is legendary (feel free to judge us for that pun).
Koji Kondo strikes again! He's like the Spielberg of video game music. The man has basically soundtracked our childhoods. The "Super Mario Bros. Theme" is so catchy that it's practically a universal language at this point. One moment you're bouncing along to the upbeat main theme; the next, you've plunged underwater, and the music mellows out. It’s also got genre-bending: everything from jazzy New Orleans vibes in Super Mario 64's "Dire, Dire Docks" to the tropical rhythms in Super Mario Sunshine. Super Mario Bros.' music is more than just a collection of tunes, it's the heart and soul of the franchise.
That's a Wrap on Our Top 10 Best Video Game Soundtracks EVER!
To the gamers reading this, we hope this list holds up! We are certain we will revisit this topic in a few years. If our list of the best video game soundtracks doesn't hold up, let us know what we missed in the comment section of this Instagram post!