2018 was absolutely loaded with great games, and equally great music. The quality started all the way back in January and didn’t let up, offering top-notch content throughout the year. But, as with most lists of this nature, some truly incredible music had to be left off, including the likes of Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, Spider-Man, and more. But let’s jump into what did make the cut...
10: Beat Saber
One of the best new PlayStation VR titles of the year, Beat Saber offers up an exhilarating rhythm experience that sees you slashing notes to the beat of some infectiously catchy electronic music. The music – largely courtesy of Jaroslav Beck, alongside some additional contributors – is great on its own, but in the throes of playing, it’s downright transcendent.
The Gardens Between is a puzzle game about manipulating time, and as such, there are many moments in the title where time is effectively stopped. This creates an interesting musical challenge, where you have the question of how the music should behave during the stoppages. Tim Shiel’s brilliant solution was to craft an ethereal, ambient score that sounds amazing at regular speed, slowed down, and sped up. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a really great game.
8: We Happy Few
Underneath the drug-infused veneer of We Happy Few’s utopia creeps a more sinister world just begging to be discovered. The music mimics the duality of the world, whether it be music from The Make Believes – a retro psychedelic-pop band made for the game – or the more traditional score from Nicolas Marquis, the music is top notch.
While the Battlefield series may have one of the most iconic main themes in gaming history, the music that usually surrounds that is rather subpar. The music is never really bad, but it’s largely forgettable, with few exceptions. This is not the case with DICE’s newest entry however. Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén have crafted the best overall score in the entire history of the series, even when excluding the main theme. It may be in service to a campaign that fails to live up to the heights of the music, but we’ll take what we can get.
When you think of Tetris, there’s probably one particular song that comes to mind. Well, Tetris Effect sidesteps this, in the pursuit of crafting not just a phenomenal soundtrack, but the best single iteration of Tetris there has been to date. With music that scales dynamically to your gameplay, and an incredible palette of different themes and levels, this is the perfect soundtrack to disappear some tetrominoes to.
Quantic Dream games, even after so many years in the industry, offer something unique to that of other games. One area that is always phenomenal, though, is the music. Detroit goes one step further and essentially has three full soundtracks. Each main character of Connor, Kara, and Markus all have entirely separate scores being done by Nima Fakhrara, Philip Sheppard, and John Paesano respectively. The result is a score with three distinct identities, each of them phenomenal.
4: God of War
Sony Santa Monica’s series about a, to put it mildly, quick-tempered Spartan received a massive overhaul in 2018, venturing into Norse mythology for the first time. A few things followed Kratos into this new world, and one of those things was great music. Bear McCreary delivered a score deserving of the series, full of poignancy, emotion, and downright epicness, juggling all the various tones required of the incredible game marvellously.
The earliest release to appear on this list, Celeste was the first “soundtrack of the year” front runner of 2018. An absolutely incredible score, Celeste juggled synth, chiptune, piano, and all manner of instrumentation to craft an eclectic, wildly creative score, that even a year later, we can’t stop listening to. With a score courtesy of Lena Raine, the brutally difficult platformer definitely has one of the best soundtracks of the year.
Being a VR title, Moss is probably that easily could have slipped by for many of you, given the size of VR’s install base. However don’t let that fool you: Moss has one of the most beautiful soundtracks of the year. Courtesy of Jason Graves – he of Dead Space fame – the music that accompanies your virtual journey through a fantasy kingdom with mouse companion Quill, is adorable. Offering a wonderfully whimsical tone, balanced with stirringly beautiful melodies, this just might be Graves’ greatest work to date!
What else was number one possibly going to be? The breadth of contributors and variety of music offered by Rockstar’s latest open world excursion made for not just the best soundtrack of the year, but one of the best of the console generation. Hitting a wide array of emotions, the soundtrack offers a little something for everyone. Between composer Woody Jackson and an astounding number of additional contributors, Arthur Morgan’s tale had quite the soundscape.
So that’s it for the best soundtracks of 2018. While the number one score of the year is unlikely to shock many, we’d like to think this list offers some glimpses into just about every corner of the industry. What do you think? Did we get things right? Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments section.