20 Of The Best Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time

20 OF THE BEST VIDEO GAME SOUNDTRACKS

Music plays a vital role in the success of a video game. It’s a cog that is just as important as the gameplay mechanics and story in the foreground. In fact, music tells a story through how we feel when it hits our ears. We would like to celebrate our favourite soundtracks of all time, which range from many different genres and developers and were released as early as the 90s. Here is the NextPlay Team’s list of the best video game soundtracks of all time (in no particular order)!

Best Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time

Nier Automata

Selected by Berto

I had heard a lot about Nier Automata as being one of the big sleeper hits of the PS4 library. It really is! But the soundtrack alone is clearly the best original soundtrack on the PlayStation 4. With an infusion of classical, pop, dance, opera and rock music. It’s easy to get lost and you’ll often pause the game to many of the songs as you journey through the game and its many chapters. There is no other way to describe how amazing it is, you have to just play the game and find out for yourself, it’s a cult classic for a reason.

Lead Composer: Keiichi Okabe
Top tracks: “Vague Hope”, “City Ruins Theme”, “A Beautiful Song”

GRIS

Selected by Hannah

GRIS, while a short game, boasts a phenomenal and melodic soundtrack composed by Berlinist. Each melody is crafted to perfection and really embodies the tone of the game effortlessly.

Lead Composer: Berlinist
Top tracks: “Gris, Pt. 1”

Hotline Miami

Selected by Jamie

Hotline Miami launched in 2012 and I still continue to listen to this soundtrack, over ten years later. Hotline Miami asks players to obliterate numerous enemies across different stages, and it requires a lot of skill and patience to achieve victory. Due to the number of deaths players must endure to reach the end of each stage, it was crucial that Hotline Miami had a memorable and addictive soundtrack – and it delivered. Featuring a smorgasbord of top-tier synthwave and electronic tracks from various artists, the soundtrack helped create an iconic atmosphere that emphasised the moment-to-moment gameplay perfectly.

Top tracks: “Hydrogen – M O O N”, “Knock Knock – Scattle”, “Hotline – Jasper Byrne”

Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

Selected by Brad

Listening to the soundtracks from Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, or even any from Gen 1 through 3 will give you an instant blase of nostalgia, reminding you of how easy life was back then. This soundtrack does a fantastic job of characterising the magnificent environments you explore throughout the Hoenn region and offers what I consider to be one of the most charming Pokemon OSTs made.

Lead Composer: Junichi Masuda
Top tracks: “Route 101”, “Slateport City”, “Champion Steven”

Jet Set Radio Future

Selected by Nate

If there is any video game soundtrack I know back to front, inside and out — it’s JSRF. Hideki Naganuma’s lively Electronica songs jam along in my brain 22 years later, permanently tattooed onto my brain. Curiously engaging tracks accompany an equally experimental and fascinating game, with recordings like “Funky Dealer” using voice clips of a casino dealer to compliment the tune’s pace — or the most bizarre song you’ll hear this week, “Birthday Cake”. (See lyrics “Shut up and eat! Too bad, no Bon Appetit!”) No track in this game is something I should be listening to outside of gameplay, however they’re all so gripping that I can’t help but put every single one into my daily playlist.

Lead Composer: Hideki Naganuma
Top tracks: “Funky Dealer”, “Birthday Cake”

Mass Effect 2

Selected by Mikeey

I was very close to picking the original game’s soundtrack, but I realized that it was based on one song when compared to two CDs (yes, it was CDs back then) worth of intense combat music and 12 themes for each of the members of the quad. I don’t listen to synth music or anything like that, but this futuristic soundtrack. I made an exception.

Lead Composer: Jack Wall
Top tracks: “The Normandy Attacked”, “The End Run”, The Illusion Man”

Celeste

Selected by Berto

Lena Raines’s soundtrack to a game about overcoming anxiety and depression. You wouldn’t think it, but it’s Trip hop, synth pop, and lo-fi heaven! The soundtrack is perfect for one of the hardest games I’ve played. It’s memorable and catchy, exceptionally well made considering the difficult topics it raises, and compliments the game with confidence.

Lead Composer: Lena Raine
Top tracks: “Resurrections”, “Quiet and Falling”, “Confronting Myself”

Final Fantasy XV

Selected by Hannah

Final Fantasy XV provides beautifully composed music that magnificently enhances the gameplay experience. While this game received criticism for its story and overall game direction, you can not deny how vastly different the tracks are. Tracks listening to tracks like “Galdin Quay” and “Stand Your Ground” one after another just shows how versatile the soundtrack can be.

Lead Composer: Yoko Shimomura
Top tracks: “Rodeo de Chocobo”, “Stand by Me – Florence + The Machine”

Persona 5

Selected by Jamie

If you have ever played the Persona series, you will understand why it made my shortlist. The series always provides a multitude of musical delights throughout the 100+ hour adventures found within each series entry. And Persona 5 is no different. No matter where you go, no matter which boss you encounter, and no matter which dungeon you explore, Persona 5 delivers incredible tracks from the start to the finish. The number of tracks found in Persona 5 is ridiculous, but when you realise each and every single track is truly captivating, it sets an incredible musical bar that few games can rival.

Lead Composer: Shoji Meguro
Top tracks: “Rivers in the Desert”, “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There”, “Life Will Change”

Final Fantasy X

Selected by Brad

It’s really hard to narrow down Final Fantasy games in a list like this. Final Fantasy VII is a masterful soundtrack, but I have chosen Final Fantasy X as the best soundtrack. If you know me, you know that this is my favourite game of all time. Once you boot up the game for the first time you hear “Zanarkand”, probably one of the most recognisable songs from the soundtrack. Within 5 minutes, you are listening to Rammstein’s Otherworld. There are just no words for me to describe how treasured this soundtrack is to me and other Final Fantasy fans around the world.

Lead Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Top tracks: “Zanarkand”, “Hum of the Fayth”, “Besaid”, “Yuna’s Theme”

RELATED: 10 Of The Best Companions In Video Games

Cuphead

Selected by Brad

Jazz. What more could you ask for when you are one popped vein away from suffering an aneurysm? Kristofer Maddigan’s compositions on this soundtrack are a masterclass. You won’t hear anything like Cuphead’s soundtrack anywhere else in the gaming space. If you’ve completed the game, you can go back to listen to any song on the soundtrack and know immediately where its from in the game.

Lead Composer: Kristofer Maddigan
Top tracks: “Don’t Deal with the Devil”, “Floral Fury”, “Sugarland Shimmy”

Outer Wilds

Selected by Nate

I’ve tried playing Outer Wilds at least 7 times now to varying degrees of success. Each time launch off my home planet, I’m enthralled by Andrew Prahlow’s incredible OST. Timber Hearth is one of my all-time favourite tracks in any video game, with that iconic, comforting banjo playing. The acoustic tunes of the “Travelers” being diegetic is a genius move that encourages open exploration and is a great example of why this game gets the resounding praise that it does.

Whether it be my aversion to things ending or just my horrible attention span that causes me to quit this game halfway, I appreciate that starting my journey over again is never a chore with such an engrossing soundscape.

Lead Composer: Andrew Prahlow
Top tracks: “Timber Hearth”, “Travelers”

Prince of Persia Trilogy

Selected by Mikeey

Everything about this album brings back memories to these games that I played through multiple times back on the original Xbox back in the day. With the Persian music in full effect there was just something about it and I swear I can tell you where each of the songs are intended for, such as the bathhouses, escapes or battles.

Lead Composer: Stuart Chatwood
Top tracks: “A Besieged City”, “Battle the Dehaka”, “Welcome to Persia”

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Selected by Berto

It’s the 80s. Neon lights, pink and white suits, backdrops of Miami sunsets, fast cars, bikini-clad women and a booming drug trade. Add in Michael Jackson, Toto, Hall & Oates, Run-DMC, Bryan Adams, and Blondie, and you have the best collection of 80s music in any media.

Top tracks: “Mr Mister – Broken Wings”, “REO Speedwagon – Keep on Loving You”, “Toto – Africa”

ABZÛ

Selected by Hannah

ABZÛ’s soundtrack is as mystical and magical as the game. Austin Wintory has captured the essence of the overall experience of the game, creating a unified piece of art.

Lead Composer: Austin Wintory
Top tracks: “And the Earth Did Not yet Bear a Name”

Hades

Selected by Jamie

When it comes to incredible soundtracks, Supergiant Games does not disappoint. This is due to the remarkable work of composer Darren Korb, who composed the music of Bastion, Transistor, Pyre, and my personal favourite, Hades. Each and every track is brilliant, but once combat begins, each track becomes an adrenaline-inducing, heart-pounding feast for the ears. Korb created a truly remarkable soundtrack for Hades, but he also voiced multiple characters, including Zagreus himself. Not bad at all.

Lead Composer: Darren Korb
Top tracks: “Mouth of Styx”, “The Bloodless”, “Good Riddance”

Super Mario Galaxy

Selected by Brad

Super Mario Galaxy was the first game in the Mario series to use a symphony orchestra, and that should be celebrated. A beloved game in the franchise, there is absolutely no doubt that this soundtrack deserves all the love it receives. It’s honestly really difficult to choose the top tracks from this OST, as they all hold a special place in my heart.

Lead Composers: Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo
Top tracks: “Gusty Garden Galaxy”, “Comet Observatory”, “Space Junk Galaxy”

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Selected by Brad

I feel like anyone who hasn’t heard of “Lost Woods” before should have their gamer license revoked. Ocarina of Time symbolises the start of many of our gaming journeys, and childhoods were immortalised within this soundtrack. There are no skips.

Lead Composer: Koji Kondo
Top tracks: “Title Theme”, “Lost Woods”, “Gerudo Valley”, “Zelda’s Lullaby”

Sea of Stars

Selected by Nate

Sabotage Studio has the Midas touch when it comes to their games, they have an incredible understanding of what makes a genre-specific video game sparkle. After loving my time with The Messenger, I decided it was imperative that I play through Sea of Stars (My very first JRPG). Accompanying the mind-blowing journey I experienced during my time with the game was an expansive, masterful soundtrack. Eric. W. Brown (rainbowdragoneyes) crafted a magical auditory experience, with each area of the world having numerous distinct and dynamic tunes.

What makes this one of my favourite OSTs however is something deeper than just the songs, it’s how they are connected to Sabotage’s previous game — and in turn, Eric’s previous OST. Just as The Messenger and Sea of Stars share a universe, so too do they share locations, and the tracks that accompany them. The joy I felt recognizing music from both games like “Hills of Determination” and “The Frozen Peak” whilst walking around these locations solidified my love for Sea of Stars, bolstering my belief that it was GOTY for 2023.

Lead Composer: Eric. W. Brown
Top tracks: “Hills of Determination – Day”, “The Frozen Peak”

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Selected by Mikeey

This is another Synthy-style of soundtrack set in a bleak future setting, but what separates this from Mass Effect 2 is a lot of the build-up in its tracks. Most would start off slow and build up gradually to a satisfying ending. I even had the track ‘Opening Credits’ as my morning alarm for a time.

Lead Composer: Michael McCann
Top tracks: “Opening Credits”, “Icarus – Main Theme”, “The Hive”

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

We couldn’t possibly fit in all of the soundtracks we love, so we’d like to pay a shoutout to Kingdom Hearts, the Final Fantasy series, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Last of Us, God of War Ragnarok, Banjo-Kazooie, Halo, Minecraft, Chrono Trigger, El Paso, Elsewhere, and Bastion.

SHARE YOUR FAVOURITES!

So that is our list of the 20 best video game soundtracks of all time! Feel free to share your favourite video game soundtracks below.

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