There was a ton of awesome music in video games this year.
The video game business could not be more divided right now. Between uber-mainstream behemoths Sony and Microsoft duking it out with the next generation, to a number of independent studios throwing off the restrictions of mainstream development entirely, it is a tenuous, but exciting time -- one that’s spurned a lot creativity.
We’re watching an entire industry grow up, right before our eyes, and the music is one of the most exciting aspects of this growth. It would be irresponsible to talk about music in 2013 without highlighting some of the incredible scores that made it into video games this year. Here are our picks for the best video game music of 2013.
6. The Last Of Us
Composer: Gustavo Santaolalla
A gorgeous game built from the ground up with Hollywood aspirations. It’s really no surprise that the music has remained so memorable. The moments between the brutal action scenes are what makes The Last of Us great. Standing in the midst of beauty and desolation, with far too much blood on your hands. The score, mostly lonesome folk, always undercuts the pain.
5. Rayman Legends
Composers: Christophe Héral, Billy Martin
It’s a real shame Rayman’s latest 2D incarnation has been so thoroughly ignored by general commercial attitudes. In another world, with a better marketing campaign, Rayman Legends would be a legit cultural icon.
It’s a simple platformer, with all the bubbly color and charm we’ve come to expect with Michel Ancel, but it also does an outstanding job integrating music directly into gameplay. Seriously, just watch. Has anything ever looked more immediately alluring? It’s like a cat with a ball of yarn. And the music makes it even more mesmerizing.
4. Kentucky Route Zero
Composer: Ben Babbitt
If you’ve not played Kentucky Route Zero, picture a bizarre, ghostly, impressionistic image of the American South populated exclusively by lost, lonely characters who speak entirely in abstract quandaries.
Not your thing? That’s understandable, but the whole thing is pulled off with a tremendous amount of style. The music swings between immortal synthetic drones and reedy frontporch folk. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to find a better soundtrack anywhere this year.
3. BioShock Infinite
Composer: Garry Schyman
The original BioShock was a masterpiece in atmosphere, but its successor, BioShock Infinite, takes its ethos to almost obsessive levels. From anachronistic barbershop-quartet covers of Beach Boys classics to thrilling orchestral flourishes, Infinite stands as perhaps the greatest example of the melding between music and game-development. I always fixate on the quiet, choral version of 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken,' the song that births you into the troubled world of Rapture.
2. The Wolf Among Us
Composer: Jared Emerson-Johnson
I know absolutely nothing about the Fables series of comics that Telltale’s latest adventure game is based on. But I certainly do know that I love pitch-black New York 1983 bleakness. For something that features Snow White as a primary protagonist, The Wolf Among Us nails it, right down to the curled, magenta synth tones.
Composer: Ari Pulkkinen
I don’t know what it is about 2D shooters, but it seems that every time one gets released on a console it’s accompanied by an absolutely banging soundtrack. Resogun amps the cheesy, middle-school trance-rave way past 11, and I couldn’t be happier.