There are games which are just not worth the music played. On the other hand, there are games where the music stands out as earworms years after the CD media has become unplayable. The best gaming music are those which add to the game experience, either as atmosphere or to set the pace. The following are the best gaming music of 2016 bringing their games to life.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga soundtrack sounds like a full classical orchestra complete with authentic old ancient horns used by the Norsemen. This is not a quick and dirty layout soundtrack. It is a well thought out rendition. In some places the music does not follow the game play, however, as a background to the material, it enhances the gameplay. The music urges the player on in a subliminal manner.
The influences of the music are in keeping with the Banner Saga story line. There is a clear delineation of the acoustic instruments used. The voices do not seem to be polished, but are rather visceral in their intent. The Banner Saga thrives on this music and the music is a fitting accompaniment to the storyline.
Deep Space Deluxe EP
Deep Space Deluxe is a throwback to the soundtrack of 1970’s space-based science fiction movies. It does not have the breadth and width of John Williams but it does evoke the video games of that era, albeit in a less frenzied beat. The use of the ice organ on a synthesizer makes for compelling audio. It has a built-in 3D echoes reminiscent of a submarine ping dissipating in the distance. Or more like the sound of an SOS beacon from the movie Alien. This is just perfect for an outer space saga game. Again, the song is more appropriate for sci-fi movies like Alien or The Black Hole. The individual beats are shiny flickers of light amid the total blackness of space.
Dark Souls 3
You would not be faulted if you never really heard the background music on Dark Souls 3. It is not meant to be heard, rather it is meant to be felt. It is heavy, but not dragging, unless you were dragging the souls of medieval warriors. The Gregorian Chant series of songs is meant to be a heavenly rendition, however a lot of people think that it is morose, dark and foreboding. This is the same feeling you get from the vocals of the Main Theme. It is a cry to high heavens for help and salvation and grows heavy in the heart of the listener.
This is a playful music which comes along with a surreal gaming landscape. The texture of the game is a cross between the surrealism of Marc Chagall and the post-modernism of Moebius. The background graphics create a theme which superimposes with the music. The crescendo in the Main Theme is a wave of sound, pushing against the shore of playfulness. From the initial wave is the clarity and elegance of the music. Just lovely.
The horror genre has always placed great emphasis on music, with thundering bass rampaging towards you in highlights. Otherwise, there is Oxenfree. With a nod to old radio broadcasts, warped vinyls, and fading recorded tapes, the music sets the tone for Oxenfree as a modern take on the horror genre. You can almost see the fading videos on old VHS tapes while listening to the soundtrack.
Soundtrack music has some basic pitfalls. The first is that they become redundant as the same style of music is played across a game genre. Second, is that the composer leaves his signature on the music, and you would know instinctively who composed which music. The games of 2016 have been diverse and technology driven. It is not a surprise that the use of technology in game soundtracks are also as diverse and surprising while keeping as background music.