Video Game Music for the Soundtrack Obsessed

"Music, How Does It Work?" | Art by imDRUNKonTEA. Used with permission.

Special care must be taken in composing video game soundtracks, since the majority of the pieces are played in the background on loop while the player is traversing the game. Thus the pieces must be good enough so they don’t drive the player bonkers. I’m a complete soundtrack junkie, so when I find at least one piece that I love from a video game soundtrack, I must check out the entire thing. Below is a list of my favourite pieces from my favourite video game soundtracks!

1. “Three Years of Anger” by Austin Haynes from Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

This soundtrack was composed for an indie game, and this piece was actually what sold me into buying the game. It has a sense of sinister grittiness with the grating instruments and the male vocals.

2. “The Star Festival” by Mahito Yokota from Super Mario Galaxy

In my opinion, Super Mario Galaxy by far has the best soundtrack of all of the Super Mario franchise since it actually was performed by a full orchestra! I love the light and bouncy tone of this piece. The synthetic instruments add a celestial feel.

3. “The Adventure Begins” by David Stanton & Ben Stanton from King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember

I wasn’t too crazy about this remake of a classic PC adventure game series, but I have to admit some of the tracks are quite beautiful. This piece has an enchanting fantasy flavour with flutes, piano, and harp. The original game soundtrack theme even plays into it.

4. “Main Theme” by Gustavo Santaolalla from The Last of Us

The reason why I decided to play this game was because I first heard this piece. I love the prominence of the guitar. With just this main instrument I can grasp a sense of heartbreak, endurance, apocalyptic backgrounds, and grueling fights from The Last of Us.

5. “Hikari (Orchestral)” by from Yoko Shimomura from Kingdom Hearts

This sweeping piece with chimes, trumpets, snare drums, and clarinet immediately conjures a sense of adventure and wonder. Any Kingdom Hearts fan immediately knows this track when they hear it.

6. “Ballad of the Goddess” by Koji Kondo from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Another game that I wasn’t very crazy about, but the soundtrack won me over. This song has to be one of my favorite pieces ever played for a trailer. The beginning harp solo then the amazing brass, strings, and snare drum throughout immediately take me to the ancient world before Hyrule.

7. “Venice Rooftops” by Jasper Kyd from Assassin’s Creed II

In the game, this music plays in the background when you use parkour to travel across the stunning architecture of 16th century Venice, Italy. To me, the song captures a sense of movement and freedom with beautiful violins, guitar, and a soft chorus.

8. “Apotheosis” by Austin Wintory from Journey

This song has made me legit ugly cry from its beauty. The soft desert instrument beginning to the build that portrays complete joy to the end that gives a sense of bittersweet completion. This piece is a journey in itself.

9. “Light of Nibel (featuring Aeralie Brighton)” by Gareth Coker from Ori and the Blind Forest

Yet another piece that suckered me into buying the game (and the soundtrack) because of its gorgeous music. Aeralie Brighton’s ethereal vocals add a sense of mysticism and the orchestra with drums and brass makes you feel like you’re running through the fantastical glowing forest of the game.

10. “Wind Guide You” by Jeremy Soule from The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

It was very hard for me to pick a favourite piece from this fantastic soundtrack, but the strings in this track won me over. The music is so calming with the gentle choir.

Victoria Grace Howell

Victoria Grace Howell

Contributing Writer at Area of Effect
Victoria Grace Howell is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and an editor for Geeks Under Grace. When not typing away at her novels, she enjoys drawing her characters, blogging, Kung Fu, cosplaying, and a really good hot cup of tea.
Victoria Grace Howell

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