Gaming isn't just about the story, the gameplay or the visuals — it's about the soundtracks too.
As gamers it can sometimes be easy to forget to appreciate the artistry behind the compositions behind the things we love. People often have their favourite tracks from eras past or certain classics, but it's worth remembering that there is a lot of wonderful music created for modern games too.
So for something different on a Friday, let's take a bit of time out and enjoy eight great songs made for video games this year. Anything that left Early Access this year is counted as well, and everyone should be fully aware that my tastes may not line up in accordance with yours.
But enough of the warnings. Let's start by venturing into a genre that most gamers will be well acquainted with — electronic music.
Crypt of the Necrodancer: Disco Descent
When your entire game centres on the idea of attacking enemies to the beat of the music, you'd better have some pretty good beats. Unsurprisingly, Crypt of the Necrodancer has some rocking tunes and if you had to rank the best OSTs for games this year, the roguelike indie would be pretty close to the top.
It was difficult to pick a single song from the tracklist — there are many good ones, and people will always have their preferences — but the sounds of Disco Descent are hard to go past. It's the first song for the first sector of the first level, and it's the one that stuck with me. Crypteque, which plays the sector after Disco Descent, is a great follow-up.
Hotline Miami 2: Hollywood Heights (by Mitch Murder)
Kirk plugged for Divide earlier this year when he wrote about Hotline Miami 2's soundtrack, but I couldn't go past the much more upbeat vibe of Hollywood Heights. Apart from the fact that it reminds me of Kung Fury, which is hilarious in its own right, it's also a great contrast to the depressing carnage that the Hotline Miami series is known for.
The entire album is pretty good too, although probably not as memorable as the original — but then I can't help but feel the lack of expectation surrounding the first Hotline Miami played a part in that as well.
Luckslinger: The Road To Clovercreek (by Rivara)
It would be remiss to do an article like this and not have some variety. Fortunately, it's hard not to listen to this track from Luckslinger, an interesting Wild West-themed platformer that gives the player a pet duck (and I'm all about ducks) to go along with some great beats.
You won't be able to find the whole playlist on YouTube, but it is available for a few dollars on Steam if you own the game. The developer has also made another single, Way of the Duck, available on Soundcloud.
Ori and the Blind Forest: The Sacrifice feat. Aeralie Brighton
If I could cheat and sneak in something from Child of Light, I would totally do that. But since I can't, I've picked a track from Ori and the Blind Forest that reminds me an awful lot of the relaxing, and sometimes haunting, tunes that really made Ubisoft's little platformer tick for me.
And maybe I'm a little bit crazy, but there's just a touch of Cirque de Soleil in the song as well. I can't really put my finger on which production precisely — maybe the quieter moments in Alegria? — but it's a pleasant, contemplative little number that I've been more than happy to listen to on multiple occasions.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture: Carry me Back to Her Arms (by Jessica Curry)
"It would be crazy if you didn't have Everybody's Gone to the Rapture," my esteemed boss told me. Fair enough, I thought — I haven't been able to play The Chinese Room's latest adventure, so I'll have a listen.
What I was expecting was a harmonic, almost haunting melody — a little like what I remember from The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Carry Me Back to Her Arms, and everything I've heard from the OST so far — there's 28 tracks — is much more morose and melancholy.
That doesn't detract from it being a lovely piece of music. It is diametrically opposite from my next pick, however, which some of you might find a little bit perplexing.
Robot Roller Derby Disco Dodgeball: Pyromania (by Kraedt)
If you haven't heard of Robot Roller Derby Disco Dodgeball ... well, you won't be able to forget it after a name like that. I don't think any video game will come even close to having a name that good this year, or next.
It's an indie shooter that launched in February and has an absurd 96% rating on Steam from over 1,300 reviews. It's basically a bunch of weird models jumping around throwing dodgeballs at each other in a darkened stadium that looks reminiscent of laser tag, except the walls glow and pulse like a rave.
My personal favourite from the unabashedly EDM-heavy soundtrack is 8-Bit Adventure, which I liked so much I used it for a CS:GO frag movie. But it's a little too extreme for most tastes, I think, so Pyromania gets the nod instead.
Frozen Cortex: Engage (by nervous_testpilot)
Launching out of Early Access in February, developers Mode 7 had difficulty getting lightning to strike twice with their follow-up to Frozen Synapse. The British studio succeeded in making a game that was simpler and more digestible than the simultaneous turn-based combat of Frozen Synapse, but the game failed to gain much traction with the public with SteamSpy reporting a total player base of just over 17,000 users.
It's a shame because Frozen Cortex has a really clean electronic soundtrack. Decisions, Intercept and if you're a fan of older trance, Pushing, are all neat tracks. Engage is one of those ones you can happily have on in the background. It's perfect office noise music, which admittedly is selling it a little short. The entire OST is neat all the same, and you can check it out on YouTube if you're interested.
The Witcher 3: Priscilla's Song
Much like Bloodborne before it, there weren't a lot of iconic music tracks that immediately came to mind when I thought of two of this year's biggest releases. But the moment you walk into the tavern and sit down to discover who might have finally conquered Dandelion's heart, Priscilla — or Callonetta, her stage name — busts out a number that remains, for me, one of the game's most memorable moments after 70 hours of gameplay.
When the song started playing, all thought in my mind stopped. Maybe it's because the soundtrack hadn't been particularly prominent up to that point, or maybe my expectations weren't properly aligned, but I can't remember thinking about anything else until the scene finished.
In a sense, it epitomised The Witcher 3 for me. Like so many of the characters and the direction of the quests throughout Geralt's grand adventure, Priscilla's song was a stunning, but thoroughly satisfying, surprise.