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.
9: The Gardens Between
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.
7: Battlefield V
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.
6: Tetris Effect
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.
5: Detroit: Become Human
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!
1: Red Dead Redemption 2
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.
Red Dead, Celeste and God of War had amazing osts. Good choices here.
In my opinion, music is one of the most important components of a game. I haven't listened to a lot of these, but I loved the music for God of War. It's my favorite soundtrack of the year.
Other soundtracks I really enjoyed this year were the ones from Deltarune, Octopath Traveler, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Red Dead Redemption II, and Celeste.
I really thought Far Cry 5 har some good stuff too.
Detroit kara theme is my number one pick, dead cells is number two (top songs: prisoner's awakening, the merchant, the temple, clock tower), tetris effect is three and number 4 is spider-man.
Also, it's still on epic games store early access and not on ps4 yet, but supergiant games Hades have one of best ost of 2018 games too (top songs: from olympus, through asphodel, the bloodless).
Edit- just realised that it’s for 2018... whoops
In that case..... would Shadow of the Colossus count?
@get2sammyb no persona 5 dancing in starlight?
I thought lumines remastered might be on here. But we have certainly had a great year for music. In fact i just found out that tetris effect has finally launched physically, so have ordered on Amazon in time for Christmas.
Great list all
I know it's not a completely new game, but Shadow of the Colossus missing out shows what a year its been soundtrack wise.
I think rdr2 music is largely absent? Some guitar notes every now and then? I must not have been paying attention.
The battlefield music in 1 and 5 is written and performed well but it doesnt really achieve the goal of me wanting to play the game. Bf3 and 4 were more in your face whereas in 1 and 5 its very slow. Doesnt really fit a fast paced first person shooter if you ask me
@Flurpsel i think thats where the beauty of RDR's soundtrack is. The music comes in at just the right moment and fits the scenario you are in perfectly. Its never in your face. I think its the subtlety that makes it great. Number 1? Maybe not, but its certainly strong. I was thinking just how effective it was this morning whilst roaming the wilderness.
Arthur riding to the camp near the end of the game...you know what I’m talking about...THE most powerful gaming moment of the year
@Flurpsel Red Dead's soundtrack is insanely good IMO.
I liked ass creed odyssey.
@wiiware dead cells was the very last cut from the list!
And boy am i excited for Hades to hit PS4. Everything Darren Korb makes is gold!
@RBMango Deltarune heck yeah!
For me, nothing came close to God of War.
@Flurpsel A big part of why I found Red Dead's score to be so good as to deem it the best of the year, like some others have said, because of its implementation, but also the breadth of contributers alongside how universally impressive the level of qualitt. From so many disparate sources, the fact the soundtrack is as consistently great as it is, is astonishing!
As for Battlefield, I do and don't agree. Yes 3 and 4 had more in-your-face scores, but World War 2 music, at least to me has a very specific sound, which Battlefield V nailed and then some. It's a shame it wasn't a backdrop for a more impressove campaign, but the music blew me away!
@ellsworth004 that was one of my last cuts as well!
@Rob_230 @STLamy @roe in the case of colossus, since it technicallllly wasn't a new score (i believe it was re-recorded though) i chose to refrain from including it. Same reason i exempted Lumines, and why I didn't consider Spyro. Those all got shouts in the monthly music recaps though!
@gbanas92 alot of the time i really dont notice game music, it really has to be good to get my attention, but ac odyssey and rdr2 sound great.
Even the music in Red Dead Online is brilliant and chimes in at exactly the appropriate moment. Outstanding soundtrack.
@gbanas92 completely fair enough this is a great list and it did prompt me to go and buy tetris so thank you
@gbanas92 I'm glad their latest game is "normal" action adventure game and not weird one like that basketball rpg game or something lol.
I still bought it though
@gbanas92 Fair reasoning. It's still an insanely strong line up even with those omissions
While the soundtrack to RDR2 was vast and detailed, I found it just “fine” but nothing that has me humming the tunes randomly. In fact, I haven’t played many classics from my childhood for decades, but I can still remember those themes. I’ve put a ton of time into these huge, epic, AAA games from the last two generations of gaming but none of the music strikes me as that memorable.
On the other hand, Celeste takes the cake. I haven’t touched it since the spring but many of its tunes and musical themes are burned into my brain like the those from Mega Man 2 , Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Mario Bros., etc..
@roe yeah being able to skip a few that would otherwie have been on the list definitely made things a little easier! And it was still hard!
@wiiware Honestly the "normalness" has me a little turned off from it! Pyre was so unique. I'm gonna get Hades no matter what though. Supergiant are one of my absolute favorite devs!
@Rob_230 tetris is so great! I love that game so much!
@Hordak I find that modern gaming has tons and tons of incredible music, and some of my favorite soundtracks are older games still (the original Medal of Honor always comed to mind), but it's largely the technology that was available too. They couldn't incorporate these epic, massive orchestral scores in the same way because there was no room, so the composers needed to make damn sure the melodies of the 8-bits were really great, bcause they had a lot less room to work with!
That Celeste score is a really great marriage of what game scores used to be and what they are now!
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