The end of the year brings with it another in a countless line of year-end lists, this time focusing on the incredible music that graced the PlayStation this year. As with all years, a few amazing soundtracks were left on the cutting room floor – Kingdom Hearts III, Ghost Giant, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – but what we wound up with are the ten best soundtracks to see the light of day in 2019.
10. A Plague Tale: Innocence
We’ve been fans of composer Olivier Derivière for a while now, especially being fond of his work on DONTNOD’s Vampyr. Well, he may have outdone himself this time, weaving an incredible tapestry of a score this time out. A sombre, sobering experience, A Plague Tale: Innocence was an impressive game, and Derivière conjured up the perfect accompaniment.
9. The Outer Worlds
The latest RPG experience from the revered team at Obsidian, this sci-fi role playing romp has a killer soundtrack that hooks from the very first second the music starts until the curtains are drawn. With perhaps the best main menu track of the year – closely contested by Jesper Kyd’s incredible one for Borderlands 3 – Justin E. Bell’s work on Outer Worlds is downright great.
8. Days Gone
Frankly, Days Gone is not a game we expected to see on this list before it came out. Sony Bend’s post motorcycle apocalypse had a surprisingly good narrative, and paired with that was an equally surprising score. The poignant melodies crafted by Nathan Whitehead did a fantastic job of conveying a surprising range of emotions, and left us thoroughly impressed.
Remedy’s return to PlayStation has been a long time coming, and the Finnish studio’s first title on Sony hardware in 16 years was a winner. Exploring the Bureau of Control, with its creepy, brutalist architecture is all the more effective thanks to ambient, eerie music from Petri Alanko and Martin Stig Andersen. Hearing all the whispers and layered melodies bouncing around the cavernous halls makes for quite the auditory experience. You’re going to want to rock some headphones for this soundtrack.
A powerful soundtrack, band Berlinist crafted a beautiful, resonant score that pairs perfectly with Nomada Studios' title. The gorgeous landscapes of this side-scrolling title are the perfect backdrop for the achingly wonderful music of one of the best indie titles of the year. Just sit back and let the pianos wash over you.
One of the most charming VR titles to release this year, Luna was a title accompanied by a score by one of our very favorite composers in the industry: Austin Wintory. It's another lovingly executed soundtrack. Luna’s score is woven into the puzzles in the game in such a way that the melodies stuck with us long after we had put the game down, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The beauty of the music work flawlessly with the cuteness of the title itself.
4. Sayonara Wild Hearts
Developer Simogo’s first title to appear on a PlayStation, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a synthwave filled mad dash rhythm title with one heck of a soundtrack. Absolutely loaded with amazing music, the only thing more impressive than the soundtrack – from Daniel Olsén and Jonathan Eng – are the insane visuals.
Given the trajectory of BioWare’s newest offering, it might be surprising to see ANTHEM so high on a list in a positive way. But the score courtesy of Sarah Schachner is absolutely amazing. The main theme she made for Assassin’s Creed Origins is one of our favourites of the entire generation, and that level of quality is present here as well. ANTHEM has one stunning score, mixing fantasy and sci-fi soundscapes seamlessly.
Simply put, Martin O’Donnell is one of the greatest composers that gaming has known. His work on Halo is legendary and is something that decades from now people will still remember. And that’s to say nothing of his work on Bungie’s more recent Destiny. So when we say that the score he crafted for PSVR title Golem is up to that level, that is quite the proclamation. This score is pure magic.
1. Death Stranding
No matter your opinions on Death Stranding as a game, there are just some areas that it objectively nailed. One of those is the music. Featuring a bevy of tracks from the amazing Low Roar, as well as a smattering of other artists, the game has fantastic licensed music. But the real star is Ludvig Forssell’s score. Equal parts disturbing and beautiful, the synth heavy score has such a particular and amazing sound to it that even when not playing the game, the soundtrack jostles around in one’s head as a true pinnacle of what game music is capable of.
So what do you think? Any egregious omissions? A list of only ten means there are of course a whole bunch of scores that didn’t get as much attention as we’d like, but too many good things isn’t the worst problem to have. Let us know your picks in the comments.
Not an original soundtrack of a game, but Anakin's Dark Deeds combined with that scene at the end of Fallen Order just nailed everything. Best gaming moment of the year.
Return of the Obra Dinn.
The lack of Kingdom Hearts III, Devil May Cry 5, and Sekiro on here is genuinely shocking, and the inclusion of Anthem's music over any of those three raises an eyebrow. It's definitely the best part of the game, but it's really lacking in any memorable tunes compared to those other three for me. I get it: different strokes for different folks and all, but still...
Walks in to check if Ace Combat 7 made the cut. It didn’t; leaves through door knocking over vase on the way out...and after setting the copy of Anthem on fire.
Just want to give a shoutout to Atelier Ryza. Since it came out on Spotify couple weeks ago, I’ve been listening to it almost every day.
I cannot imagine this list without Nier Automata and RDR2
I've pumped something like sixty or seventy hours into Days Gone over the past few weeks. I realized I kept getting The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" stuck in my head right after playing. I don't listen to that song, so it was really confusing me. Then I listened to the score more closely the next time I played, and sure enough, there's a melody that repeats quite often that is very, very similar to one heard in that classic song. It's an ascending three notes that mirrors "but my dreams..."
The same happens with Pearl Jam's "Present Tense" when the credits roll on an episode of Veronica Mars. There are almost no similarities other than two repeating notes, but every single time, I get "Present Tense" stuck in my head.
Nothing intentional on the composer's part. Most modern music is just twelve notes arranged in different combinations. My mind just hones in on similarities and brings them to my attention, whether I like it or not.
none of those games released in 2019
@HellOfaHunter what @BrettAwesome said. Both of the games you mentioned were however #1 in the respective years in which they released!
@Arugula I loved Control's score as well, but agreed. More specifically it's sound design was next level!
@Vegetto agreed! Some brilliant reprises of Williams' stuff in that score! Although the original music was great too!
@FX102A @b1ackjack Ace Combat was one of my very last cuts as a matter of fact!
@RBMango That is precisely why those didn't make the cut haha. They're not scores I personally got anything out of as good as they may be, so I prioritzed ones that I thought were excellent but also personally enjoyed. And by the time I was done, there was no more room!
As for Anthem, I vehemently disagree haha. I thought Anthem had some of the coolest melodies of the year, bad as the game is itself is. I find Sarah Schachner to be one of the best in the industry at making themes! But like you said too, different strokes!
@glassmusic hahah, i didn't have that particular experience, but that happens to me all the time!
@DarthPablo @Futureshark good shouts!
Gris probably would have been my number one if it wasn't for the bad decision to let the local cat skinner do his work whilst they were recording.
1. Devil May Cry 5
2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
3. Death Stranding
4. Sayonara Wild Hearts
5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
my mistake i thought this list for the decade
@HellOfaHunter still working on that one
@Eldritch yeah the mix on that score is very odd!
It's a great list, nice to see this type of feature. It would be nice to see the reviewers make an attempt to even mention the soundtrack in the reviews a little more often (only Luna got a decent write up in this list. Gris, DS, Golem all got a sentence.). It's something severely lacking when the soundtrack (and, even more criminally, sound design) can and often is so important to the core experience.
But thanks to features like this, maybe it's on the up!
Happy New Year!
@SnowTiesAreCool I usually try and make a point of mentioning the soundtracks in my reviews, but I also do a monthly recap of sorts that goes more in-depth like this with the best soundtracks of each month!
This is the most recent one!
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