Music creates an emotional response within us that can evoke strong memories if it leaves a lasting impression on us. Whenever I hear the video game soundtrack of a game I thoroughly enjoyed or it has moved me beyond measure, I can easily recall favorite moments from the video game or it stirs up certain emotions I have felt towards the characters and story.
Much of 2021 has been a pretty good year for video games, especially as far as having a bit of a completed list of games under my belt, which has led to the discovery of soundtracks I can’t stop rotating between on Spotify. Here are my favorite video game soundtracks of the year.
Neo: The World Ends With You
The first The World Ends With You had an irresistible video game soundtrack that mixed a number of musical genres like pop, rock, hip hop, and heavy metal to create a unique soundscape that players could bop along to as they fought Noise or shopped for clothes in Shibuya, Tokyo’s hip and fashion forward district. Neo: The World Ends With You is no different and doesn’t disappoint either.
The new songs, and remixes of familiar songs from the first game, are extremely catchy and I often find myself lingering just a little bit longer on the game’s menu or keeping Rindo standing in the middle of Scramble Crossing just so I could appreciate the music in all its beautiful glory.
Thankfully, the whole soundtrack (a whopping 51 songs) are on Spotify to enjoy at your leisure as background music to get through your workday or finish chores around the house. Among my personal favorites from the soundtrack are the brand new songs “Breaking Free” and “CHASE” and the remixes of oldies but goodies from the first game “Three Minutes Clapping – NEO Mix” and “Transformation – NEO Mix”.
Life is Strange: True Colors
Deck Nine’s Life is Strange: True Colors is high up on my list of favorite video games of all time. The story of Alex Chen who has the ability to read and absorb people’s emotions with her empath power is one of the most engrossing games I’ve played this year, so much so that I have played it three times. Elevating the entire story is the game’s music.
While the Life is Strange games are known for its outstanding indie music, I must admit that there were maybe one or two from Life is Strange and Life is Strange 2 that I absolutely adored while the rest didn’t resonate with me as much. True Colors managed to have an entire soundtrack I mostly love with one or two songs I didn’t really like.
Finding a home and a place where you belong are the overarching themes of True Colors and the music reflects that journey Alex goes on. The songs I loved the most from the video game are “Haven (from Life is Strange)” by Novo Amor, “Living Underground” by Angus and Julia Stone, “Don’t Matter” by Kings of Leon, and “Home” by Gabrielle Aplin. You can find the list of songs from the game on Spotify.
Music scores often set the mood and tone of a game. They provide cues that instantly tell a player that an epic boss fight is about to start, the environment you’re in is a bit sinister and creepy and you should keep your guard up, or the unexpected death of a character will have a massive impact on your main character and the story moving forward. The video game soundtrack from GRIS and composed by Berlinist features one of the most beautiful musical scores you’ll ever hear.
GRIS has zero dialogue and relies heavily on the animation and music to tell the story of the main character who is struggling with grief and depression. The music captures the emotions of the girl as she moves through her despair to eventually get to a place of hope. Every single violin string or piano note hits a player just right to really feel everything she is going through.
After completing the game, the musical score stayed with me and it was a soundtrack I wanted to hear in its entirety when I wasn’t focused on moving from one level to the next. My favorite pieces from the game are “Gris, Pt. 1”, “Descent”, “Ascension”, and “Gris, Pt. 2”. You can hear the full soundtrack on Spotify.
These are my standout video game soundtracks of the year. What are some of yours? Share them with me in the comments below!