ByImogen Donovan, writer at
Known to be quite vexing. Freelance games journalist, likes space RPGs, fantasy RPGs and space fantasy RPGs.
Imogen Donovan

A person who... does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.

Martin Luther, 'Collection Symphoniae iucundae', 1538.

Isn't that the most melodramatic quote? I love it. 16th century monks were wild. Anyway, this post is going to be all about video game music!

Personally, once I'm introduced to a new game I will always make the effort to check out its soundtrack. Music is a very important way for me to connect with the emotions and the lasting impact behind the mechanical components of a game. And I'm positive that I'm not alone in that opinion.

But what sets these apart from TV themes and movie scores? One crucial component. Video game soundtracks are intrinsically and implicitly designed to keep you focused on the task at hand when there's a lot of complex visual and auditory information inputting to the brain.

Therefore, they're amazing for studying for an important exam, or crunching the numbers at work or zoning in on a creative pursuit. Here are four vastly different and wonderfully inimitable indie game soundtracks as unique as the games that accompany them.

Thumper (2016)

[Credit: Drool]
[Credit: Drool]

Pure, electronic sounds and brash, derisive percussion define the soundtrack to . Brian Gibson of the band 'Lightning Bolt' is the mind behind the game's background music, crafting a dramatic and exceedingly alien soundscape.

Of course, this is complementary to the trippy and shiny visuals and the whole premise of being a space beetle fighting glistening boss battle horrors. Without the blisteringly fast, terrifying gameplay, each of the tracks becomes an excellent, multilayered, synthy drone — but there's enough variance to keep your mental focus highly attuned.

Perfect for math homework, coding, repetitive but detail-intensive tasks, late nights and close work.

Listen on: Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Bandcamp

Developer: Drool

Genre: Rhythm

Platforms​: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Nintendo Switch

Night in the Woods (2017)

[Credit: Infinite Fall]
[Credit: Infinite Fall]

With a fundamentally relatable story but a peculiar setting, the themes of needed to tap into a unique yet universal sound. The soundtrack zooms and glides from and to differing moods — equal parts nostalgic, chirpy, chill dream pop and upbeat, gaudy, random indie rock and roll.

They're catchy beats you'll want on loop, reminiscent of nights spent stargazing and sidesplitting days out with friends. Right now, Alec Holowka's Bandcamp is where you can listen to four tracks from the game, but here's hoping that the full OST is out soon!

Perfect for brainstorming, mind mapping, sketching, thinking outside the box, anything that needs a pinch of inspiration.

Listen on: Bandcamp

Developer: Infinite Fall

Genre: Platformer, adventure

Platforms​: PC/Mac/Linux and PlayStation 4

Firewatch (2016)

[Credit: Campo Santo]
[Credit: Campo Santo]

is a classic example of how a game's soundtrack can wholeheartedly embody its narrative and message. Twangy, echoey guitar strings accompanied by the deep, soft bass and occasional electronic interludes create a melancholy heavy hitter deserving of its award-winning writing. Chris Remo's excellent compositions move from embers to sparks, to flame to forest fire, to ash and back again. Yet, in isolation from the game, it allows the listener to melt into a auditory atmosphere as deep, complementary and archaic as the Shoshone Valley.

Perfect for chilled out reading, writing and reading again, be it your own words, from the textbook or the team project.

Listen on: Youtube, Bandcamp

Developer: Campo Santo

Genre: Mystery, exploration

Platforms​: PC/Mac/Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Journey (2012)

[Credit: thatgamecompany]
[Credit: thatgamecompany]

Austin Wintory's score for the critically acclaimed indie adventure is nothing short of remarkable. An epic mix of soothing, pensive strings grounds the game's soundscapes in the emotional soundtracks of contemporary cinema. But this by no means sentences Journey's music to ubiquity. The surges of emotion and dynamism adding to the central motifs elevate this interactive medium to a symphonic experience, and expertly construct an aural arc that lingers long after the fade out.

Perfect for boosting your motivation when time-extensive tasks become arduous, or looking at the bigger picture with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

Listen on: Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes, Soundcloud

Developer: thatgamecompany

Genre: Exploration, adventure

Platforms​: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4

I hope you enjoy these! What are your favorite video game soundtracks to jam along to?


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