Gaming soundtracks have gained more recognition in recent years as people are paying more attention to them specifically, and a market has begun to appear of sorts. OSTs for games that have good music is becoming more and more of the norm, instead of a rarity as the music becomes a product in and of itself. Music in games has some issues in that it must set the tone, but the game developer is often in less control than a movie or television director is.
Still musicians have rose to the challenges and because gaming is a newer medium it has more areas to explore in many cases with music to supply. These games had some of the best soundtracks of 2014 and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did — Don Parsons
Alien Isolation does a tremendous job of filling up its frightening sequences with cinematically sophisticated, orchestral music, as well as spells of near silences broken by terrifying environmental sound. The thuds of the xenomorph as it hovers above or below you in a vent are perfectly bassy and damp. The score for the game was written with its dynamic sound engine in mind which reacts to events as they unfold as the player interacts with the unscripted Alien. For a game taking its inspiration from Ridley Scott’s original Alien film, the fact that designers were able to go back and listen to the original film’s sound recording was a huge step in getting the atmosphere right. In fact, Alien Isolation’s soundtrack was so effective that fans of this less than perfect game are still clamoring for a purchasable release of the OST. — Jose Alvarado
As a Sega girl growing up, I didn’t get involved in the Zelda franchise until much later in life. But the hours my partner and I have spent trying to work out exactly what in the arse we are meant to be doing as we wander almost aimlessly around the original NES game was more than enough to make me an addict. And then came Hyrule Warrior, which with its hundreds of unlockables I found equally as addictive and its suped up versions of traditional Zelda soundtracks meant I was entertained throughout. The music is just good, even from the perspective of a Dynasty Warriors fan who just wanted a quick pick me up until they can get their next fix, but even more so for the hardcore Zelda fans who will have to wait until the end of 2015 for their drug. Nostalgia reigns throughout, but in a modern way which is pleasing for all. — Georgina Young
Runner Up: Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U
Honestly, this feels like a little bit of a cheat as it has so many classic songs to work with, but the remixed versions of several of the classic Nintendo franchises iconic songs combined with the original versions on the various stages creates a great variety of music to beat the crap out of your friends to. All the franchise giants have some of the best music in their franchise, from the remixed sounds of the Mega Man 2 Medley, to the World Circuit Theme of the Wii’s Punchout. The ability to adjust the stage’s music to bring your favorite songs to be more frequent just adds to the enjoyment you’ll get out of the game, especially when a classic song like Gerudo Valley comes up to transport you back to the days of old. There’s something for everyone in this soundtrack. — Shaun Joy
Top Pick: Transistor
Transistor’s soundtrack, produced by Darren Korb and featuring vocals Ashley Lynn Barret, sold almost fifty thousand copies within its first ten days of release. This Jazzy, electro-acoustic soundscape stands up on its own as an interesting piece of music. As the soundtrack for a game about a singer who has been robbed of her voice, it does a tremendous job of setting its sombre, plaintive tone. The music pairs well with the game’s techy sound effects and does a good job of picking up its pulse in response to gameplay moments, such as battle sequences and story beats. Transistor is very much a game focused around the player’s sonic experience, and a game which smartly marries that soundscape to its visual design. — Jose Alvarado
And that’s how we heard the soundtracks this year. We hope you enjoyed listening to these tunes as much as we did!
Do you think we missed any soundtracks? Think any of these are undeserving? Tell us in the comments below!