We all know how important music has been for the gaming industry. What would Super Mario be without the jolly music that accompanies the super star, or how lame would it be without the tune that rings out when Link uncovers a secret in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? These two are emblematic of the smaller accomplishments when it comes to composing soundtracks for video games.
In recent years we've seen orchestras accompany the action on screen, award-winning composers like Hanz Zimmer, Gustavo Santaolalla and even Joe Hisaishi lend their talents to the action, and game soundtracks have even been nominated for Bafta Awards!
So let's celebrate that legacy by examining how video game soundtracks have changed within the last 5 or so years. Here are my personal favorite video game soundtracks since 2010.
Almost 6 Years Of Video Game Soundtracks
It had to be either Transistor or Bastion, but what with the way composer Darren Korb incorporated his music into the actual gameplay of Supergiant Games' latest masterpiece, I had to vote for Red's adventure. That's not to say that this soundtrack is anyway inferior to that of Bastion - far from it. Ashley Barrett's sweet jazzy voice is perfect for every song and it was a pleasure to listen to her as I hacked my way through Transistor's beautiful levels.
How could I not include the only video game to have been nominated for a Bafta? Austin Wintory is renowned throughout the world for his work on ThatGameCompany's Journey, which probably stands as one of the greatest games ever made. From the outset, Wintory attempts to transport you to a mystical land unlike anything we're familiar with. This is the song that perfectly does just that.
FromSoftware's Bloodborne has steadily become one of my favorite games of all time and that's due in no small part to its soundtrack. The landscape is brimming with blood, creatures of untold power and gothic horror. Whether you're simply walking around its streets or combating a boss, Bloodborne's composers Ryan Amon, Tsukasa Saitoh, Yuka Kitamura, Nobuyoshi Suzuki, Cris Velasco and Michael Wandmacher ensure that you're engaged in a dark world of mystery.
How could I not include the work of Jeremy Soule? One of the most memorable aspects of Bethesda's 2012 masterpiece is its soundtrack! It's hard to forget the first moment you encountered a dragon in Skyrim and how could you with this theme accompanying your epic combat?
To The Moon (2011)
Time for something more intimate. 2011's indie masterpiece To The Moon is a video game that is bound to bring tears to your eyes. While the story itself is certainly powerful and emotional, the game wouldn't have the same impact without the sounds of Kan Gao and Laura Shigihara. It's an intimate game with far more complexity than its animations denote - same goes for its simplistically beautiful music.
Ni No Kuni (2010)
Studio Ghibli has worked with composer Joe Hisaishi for years. He's composed music for the likes of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle and the mesmerizing Princess Mononoke. Therefore when he stepped up to compose the soundtrack for 2010's Ni No Kuni with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, we knew something remarkable was going to happen. And it did.
The Last of Us (2013)
I am an avid admirer of Gustavo Santaolalla (I recommend you listen to this piece) and I was in no way aware that he had composed the music for Naughty Dog's The Last of Us until I started playing. He has an indescribable sound, one that you almost instantly recognize. It's sentimental, breathtaking, powerful and heart breaking. All of that comes to the fore in 2013's masterful The Last of Us.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)
How could I not include an installment from The Legend of Zelda series? On Skyward Sword, four composers, Hajime Wakai, Shiho Fujii, Mahito Yokota and Takeshi Hama came together to create one of the most epic scores in the franchise's history. They've infused elements of previous Zelda titles and beautifully elaborated on them to create one of the more unique-sounding soundtracks in recent memory.