Another year gone. Times flies, doesn't it? 2016 may have been, erm, less than stellar in a lot of respects, but the games industry was by no means one of the problems. Quality reigned supreme across so many titles it's hard to keep track. Not to be left behind, though, was the music from these games, which delivered some top quality tunes. Below is our list of the ten best of the year.
While Uncharted 4 may have had the weakest soundtrack in the series that by no means makes it bad. The first entry in the series not to be scored by Greg Edmonson, Henry Jackman's score for Uncharted 4 delivered a more suitably subdued soundtrack that better fit the game's less blissfully-adventurous tone. Plenty of reprises of past melodies in the series abounded, and the music was along for the ride to give Nate the send-off that he deserved.
Ah, DOOM. One of the seminal FPS franchises dating back to the early days of the genre. While the series had been dormant for some time, id and Bethesda brought the shooter back in a big way. An explosive, action-packed, and magnificently fun shooter, DOOM brought with it a perfectly fitting metal soundtrack courtesy of Mick Gordon. Able to weave intricate polyrhythmic guitar riffs into and out of intense gun fights while paying homage to the music of the series' past, DOOM's soundtrack perfectly suited the title.
#8: Final Fantasy XV
After a measly ten years in development, and some name changes along the way, Final Fantasy XV finally hit store shelves. While such a long development cycle made it unlikely that the game would be perfect, the newest Final Fantasy nonetheless did a lot right. The Final Fantasy series has a long-standing reputation for some of the best music in the industry dating all the way back to the first game in 1987. While Nobuo Uematsu may not have handled this title, that didn't stop composer Yoko Shimmura from working in a plethora of the IP's longest enduring melodies, alongside a spate of beautiful new music.
Hyper Light Drifter just might be one of the most beautiful games we've ever played, with hulking, foreboding abandoned monoliths galore, and an absolutely stunning colour palette. So it only makes sense that the game has a suitably incredible soundtrack. The soundtrack – courtesy of Disasterpiece, likely most well known for work on Fez and the horror film It Follows – offers a beautiful and complex combination of chiptune, synthesizer, and piano to deliver a soundtrack that is every bit the equal of the beautiful landmarks littering the environments.
Final Fantasy XV isn't alone on this list when it comes to games with long – and sometimes troubled – development cycles. The Last Guardian, a game which many – seemingly including Sony on some occasions – thought would never release, finally released in 2016. The game's beautiful art direction and wonderfully engaging relationship with the magnificent bird-dog-thing, Trico, weren't the only excellent qualities that the game had: Takeshi Furukawa delivered an emotionally powerful and stirring score befitting a game of this significance.
#5: Dark Souls III
The Souls series – and we'll include Bloodborne in this too – has a consistent track record of phenomenal soundtracks. Dark Souls III proved to be no different, as the incredible, lush, gothic score took the music of the series to new heights. The game delivered magnificent boss theme after magnificent boss theme on top of haunting, oftentimes disturbing ambient music. The series might technically be "finished", but there will always be a place for the music of the Souls' games in our hearts.
Dating all the way back to its unveiling at E3 2015, Unravel made it apparent that the game would be wonderfully charming. This ended up absolutely being the case, as the platforming adventures of Yarny proved to be decidedly beautiful, and emotionally resonant. Yarny was adorable, and the music from Frida Johansson and Henrik Oja captured the time and place of the game with its Swedish, folksy beauty – except for one track which could be a B-Side off Dark Side of the Moon. In fact, Unravel just may have had the most relaxing soundtrack of the year.
Oxenfree is one of the best surprises of the year. An indie that released earlier in the year and was for better or worse overshadowed by some of the "bigger" indies, it was nonetheless a stellar title. An intricate, unique, and excellent time-travel/time-loop narrative helped to raise the game well beyond being "just another indie". Not to be ignored, though, was the game's phenomenal soundtrack, courtesy of scntfc that helped give the island that the game took place on an identity all its own.
We're going to be honest: we're not the least bit surprised that one of the best soundtracks of the year came courtesy of composer Austin Wintory. We actually awarded him best soundtrack of the year last year for his work on Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and his work on Abzû continues his trend of providing the highest quality of music. Wondrous choral pieces and an absolutely stunning leitmotif bring the most out of the first game from the studio founded by the art director behind Journey.
#1: No Man's Sky
No Man's Sky was an odd release. Unreasonable expectations ran rampant in the lead-up to the launch of the game, leaving many massively let-down by the title. Many were upset by what they viewed as false advertising, and Hello Game's silence for a long stretch of time following the game's release definitely didn't help to allay any concerns. Luckily the game is trending in the right direction now, as the devs try to cope with getting the game closer in line with the unfair expectations heaped upon it. Through all of this, though, one area was pristine right out of the gate: the music. Scored by popular math/post rock band 65daysofstatic, the soundtrack for No Man's Sky was not only great for the game, but a phenomenal "65dos" album in its own right. Being able to do just one of those would have been a challenge in and of itself, but succeeding at both at the same time? We were absolutely floored.
So that's that! We had to leave a lot exceptional music off this list to make it manageable, but we think we ended up with quite a crop of music. What do you think? Do you agree with us, or were our choices just the worst? Tap out your favorite selections in the comments below.
Which of the following was your fave soundtrack of 2016? (47 votes)
Dark Souls III
Final Fantasy XV
Hyper Light Drifter
No Man's Sky
The Last Guardian
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
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