We’re listing the ten best Soundtracks of the Decade. These are the ten PlayStation scores released over the past decade that we believe left the biggest impression on our sonic palettes. Whether it’s Journey's Grammy nominated masterpiece or Destiny’s 8 movement symphony, these are the soundtracks that hit the best notes across the last ten incredible years of gaming. Head here to see the complete series.
When it came time to pick the single best soundtrack of the decade, there was only ever one real choice. A soundtrack that evoked such strong feelings in gamers around the world. A soundtrack that to this day remains the only game soundtrack to receive a Grammy nomination. We are talking, of course, about Journey. Composed by Austin Wintory – a Push Square favorite – there is no score in gaming that better exemplifies the heights that game music can soar to.
There’s not a single note in the entire soundtrack that doesn’t feel impactful. The music plays an integral role in conveying pertinent information to the player when it comes to Journey. While most games have text or dialogue to help keep the player informed, Journey is textless, and there is no dialogue. Everything is instead conveyed visually or sonically. This puts greater emphasis on the art direction as well as the music, and both are more than up to the task.
Wintory’s score in particular is a delicate, emotionally resonant, erm, journey, that captures the spirit of the game in such an authentic, believable fashion, that it’s nigh impossible to not immediately fall in love with the music. The entire score is structured around those first few notes on 'Nascence', but it is executed to such an incredible degree, and with such nuance that every new track feels fresh and inviting. Even without a picture to put to the music, the emotions being conveyed are clear as a crisp, spring morning. The music speaks to you in a way that very few, if any, soundtracks have ever been able to and it’s deserving of every bit of praise it receives.
As you progress further and further through the game's sublime environments, the music steadily grows in complexity with you, all still off the back of those opening few notes. This all comes to an exquisite crescendo on 'Apotheosis', a culmination of all the notes and all the little moments you experienced along your voyage. The music swells as you soar higher and higher into the sky, your Journey at long last complete.
As that last note slowly fades out, so too does the knowledge that you have just witnessed a truly special game. A once-in-a-lifetime experience even. There was never another pick for the best soundtrack of the decade. It was always going to be Journey.
So there you have it! That concludes the list of the ten best PlayStation soundtracks of the past decade. Do you agree with at least some of our choices? Whittling an entire decade down to just ten soundtracks makes it impossible to please everyone, and we had to leave dozens and dozens of equally amazing soundtracks off the list. Let us know what your favorite soundtrack of the decade is in the comments.
Finally something I agree with.
Wow the witcher 3 didnt make the top 10, I'm speechless
An excellent crescendo to a superb series.
Even though I disagree with nine of the final ten, this countdown has been a joy to follow.
Wonderful stuff, thank you!
@RogerRoger Thank you! This series took, well, it took a lot of work!
@Cutmastavictory It was bound to happen eventually
@gbanas92 this really was an amazing Soundtrack.
Excellent soundtrack. Beyond music, just the use of sonics throughout. This whole game really paved the way for a certain style of approach (and Flower deserves a mention as a sort of prior prototype) and the OST was key.
Alright now that we’re done with the joke list let’s get the real deal underway! 😁
@gbanas92 you have had an impossible task lol. Well done though.
It’s good yeah. Glad it isn’t God of War and I can see why it would be somebody’s number one but there were a lot of great soundtracks this decade.
@gbanas92 You could even say that, with this top ten, you've taken us all on an incredible... journey.
Alright, I'll see myself out.
@kyleforrester87 Thanks This was one hard list to make haha. And I enjoyed doing it, even if everyone seems to hate it
@Claude All of their music is just so good! Austin Wintory scored their first major game, flOw too, and I love that one! The sonics of the game are deeply tied to the music in that one too!
Guys, I love game soundtracks. Could we have this kind of feature (not necessarily a countdown) in the future? Maybe as a regular feature every week? I'd love to learn more abour this topic.
@RogerRoger Ooof. I don't know. I don't think you get to leave after that one!
@thefirst If it helps, I did in fact include Plague Tale on the list for the best of 2019!
And I agree, the soundtrack from that game is amazing! Very fond of Olivier Deriviere's music!
@gollumb82 I actually alreayd do that and have been for a while! Every month I do a non-ordered list of the best game from that month!
This is the most recent one (December was all game of the year stuff instead), but there should be one for January up some time next week!
@gbanas92 Considering you used a version of the same gag in the article up there, I reckon I do!
On a serious note, more content like this please, PushSquare. I know you've already got the Soapbox strapline for authors to write opinion pieces, but allowing these kinds of passion projects is insightful and stimulates debate. This has been a lot of fun!
Ok, thanks for your hard work. Looking forward to the next articles on this subject. Games have some of the most memorable soundtracks one could wish for. I listen to some of them on a daily basis (like the intro music for Colin McRae Rally by Jonathan Coolidge, or the OST for NHL 98 by Jeff Van Dyk). If you need some input please let the readers know
The Witcher has a decent soundtrack (for Fields of Ard Skellige especially, that's godlike) but like God of War, it isn't all that memorable. GoW theme is amazing though.
The whole week it has been building up to this and I should had seen it coming. Life is a journey. Lol
@gbanas92 Austin Wintory is doing some really great stuff. Have you heard the Banner Saga score? It's marvellous.
Good pick for #1, although I'm a teensie bit disappointed that Shadow of the Colossus didn't make the list.
I agree with some of the list like Persona 5, Undertale, Transistor, Last of Us and Rime but not really the order and I think this list was more personal than objective but still fun to see your real tastes in music, but in my opinion Nier Automata is the best
@GKO900 Well, of course, it's opinion-based. The only "objective" way to make this is to go by Metacritic scores or something, and that's for the game's not the soundtracks themselves. An objective list of soundtracks would be different for everyone, and they would stop being objective! And even then, an objective list would be no fun. So naturally, they are deeply personal!
@ShaiHulud Oh boy have I! I absolutely love Austin Wintory! Basically all of his soundtrack's are amazing. Honestly, he's my favorite composer in the industry! Everything he makes is extraordinary!
@AdamNovice I more or less agree with that. The God of War main theme is incredible, and the soundtracks definitely good, but not memorable top to bottom in the way some of the others are.
@gollumb82 Couldn't agree more! I absolutely adore game music!
@RogerRoger Ah darn it, okay. I guesssss you can leave. And yeah I'd be lying if I said didn't have a ton of fun doing this!
@gollumb82 Ridge Racer Type 4! Get on that, it’s an absolute banger of an OST!
I loved Journey, it was one of those near perfect games. But i don't remember the soundtrack at all. It wasn't memorable for me. It probably helped with the emotion of the game as I played it, but if you told me to hum or name a track I wouldn't have a clue. Nier Automata should have been #1, not a mention.
A beautiful and sometimes gut-wrenching experience. Journey could play on your frame of mind like nothing else. I can actually say there were instances this game actually helped me. The subtle and perfectly crafted multiplayer has yet to be matched in how succinct and passively necessary it is.
@Claude Flower was a beautiful mess lol. Nothing like Journey. If you were on that team you did something truly special
Thanks man! I'll check it out. Racing games often have great OSTs (the original GRID, Forza 6, GT Sport). I actually have A Moment Apart by ODESZA as my ringtone (Forza Horizon 4)
****list without nier automata
thats the soundtrack that sells cds
Surprised DOOM hasn't been mentioned. The soundtrack matched the action on screen perfectly.
@Nyne11Tyme The spirit of the MP component of that game was just so pure and wonderful! God, to be able to play Journey again for the first time!
@TuckNorris85 that one was on the first few lists. I didn't cut it early, but it did get before the last couple. I do love that soundtrack too though!
So glad that you guys did this series, and I love that I saw the headline for #1 and instantly thought "well, of course."
I don't know if Kojima has ever mentioned Journey, but I actually think there's a bit of its imprint in Death Stranding. In those moments where you climb down a lonely rock face to a moody Low Roar track on a rope left by a helpful stranger you'll never meet, it definitely feels like there's a connection.
Yep. Made me listen to Lenny Ibizarre and Kay Nakayama songs more times than I can count
@TuckNorris85 As someone who listens to metal quite a lot, I thought the DOOM soundtrack was actually a missed opportunity. They could have really gone for it, but instead all we got was some timid, half-arsed industrial stuff.
@gbanas92 Well I respect your opinions but I just wish people would do top ten lists more objectively rather than personal which is why I don't trust reviews anymore because they are too personal instead of objective you have to have a knowledge of what makes a game good otherwise anyone can review a game and if they don't like something give it a zero because they don't like it even if it's good game like GoW for example, and there are a lot of ways to do it like looking at the amount of views, the amount of praise it gets and how many people would buy the soundtrack and you could tell by the amount of comments that everyone love Nier Automata because it's the most memorable soundtrack of the decade, I expected your number 1 been different since it was personal like more unique something like Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana instead of journey which to me it's an overrated game but I respect your opinion but at least your list was better than the Game of the Decade of Push Square 😜
Absolutely. Is it not on this list??
Rewarded myself with this one: https://www.gamereactor.nl/media/09/sickvinylnier_2210953_650x.jpg
Hotline Miami's (1) OST is awesome too. Beautiful vinyl too.
@RevDrGalactus Glad you enjoyed it! It was a ton of fun to do!
@GKO900 A top 10 list like this I think should definitely have a personal touch to it. Hell, saying that NieR: Automata is the most memorable soundtrack of the decade isn't objective either. That's not remotely an opinion I hold for instance. Music is straight-up impossible to be entirely objective about because a sound that is wonderful to one person might be nightmarish to sit through for another. Just like I can respect and appreciate that many people think NieR's soundtrack was great. I don't even disagree that it was a great soundtrack, but it didn't leave any sort of lasting impression with me. And in one of these threads (I forget which one now), I talked about that lasting impression being a big factor for making the list. There are games on this list I either don't like or haven't played! I've never played Red Dead 2! But I love the music and it's left a lasting impression on me! Even if the selections weren't the ones you'd have selected personally. And it's always nice to see people be so passionate about something they care about! That after all is why I made this list in the first place!
@gbanas92 I think you are right that saying "Nier Automata it's the most memorable game soundtrack" isn't objective but it's the closest thing to been objective taking into account that nothing in this world it's 100% accurate or perfect then you go to the closet thing and this community shows by the comments but that's just my opinion, either way thanks to your list I found out about Transistor music and I love seeing your list of soundtracks so keep up the great work and don't forget about the list of the best of this year
@GKO900 Never forget!
Plus, yay someone else gets to enjoy Transistor's music now!
Journey huh? I dunno whats the big deal. I always thought Steve Perry's voice was too wimpy.
Really like Austin's work in Abzu as well.
He is also doing the Play, Watch, Listen podcast with Alanah Pearce, Troy Baker, Mike Bithell.
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