Written by Jenna Dreisenstock
The perception of video games is skewered in the eyes of many; a vast majority of those uninvolved in the gaming world may perceive video games solely as mindless, violent games in which the main objective is to destroy everything. However, this misconception is based on mainstream and limited knowledge: the video game world has so much more artistic depth to it than one may think. There are many exceptionally beautiful video games, with unique art styles, meaningful and touching narratives and specifically incredible soundtracks that weave seamlessly into these interactive artworks.
Here are 10 vividly imaginative soundtracks that work in tandem to create these interactive artworks, which are sometimes overlook in a heavily media-saturated world.
In no particular order, we have listed but a few of our favourite electronic-based soundtracks:
Hotline Miami (2012)
Immersed in a world of famed vaporwave aesthetic, stunning in it’s unique 80’s nostalgia pixel-art: drenched in brilliant neon and bright, animated colours – Hotline Miami is an independently developed title by Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin, collectively known as Dennaton Games. Quite chaotic in its gameplay and nature, Hotline Miami features a fantastic soundtrack, with collaborating composers blending the games’ fast-paced action gameplay and eclectic concept perfectly narrated in turn by the soundtrack.
Monument Valley (2014)
In the world of Monument Valley, we find ourselves engulfed in phenomenal minimalism with the games’ outstanding art-style, use of colour and it’s engrossing puzzle-based gameplay. A title that is actually solely exclusive to IOS platforms, the touching narrative and scintillating optical illusions create an unforgettable gameplay experience perfectly embracing gaming as an art-form. An independent title developed and published by ustwo games limited, the tender, raw and lovingly sweet electronic soundtrack: composed by artists Stafford Bawler, OBFUSC & Grigori, the soundtrack compliments the sheer gossamer beauty of the game and it’s minimalist style and narrative.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)
Tackling an older, more ‘mainstream’ video game title, we delve into the striking soundtrack of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory – one of the titles in the series containing more action-based gameplay and combat. Developed by gaming giants Ubisoft, this is one soundtrack we definitely could not leave off of this list – composed by acclaimed producer, sound designer and composer Amon Tobin, the soundtrack features Tobin’s signature eclectic style immersing players in this bold action title. Amon Tobin went on to release the complete soundtrack as the album Chaos Theory in 2005.
Nominated for multiple awards for its’ soundtrack, Transistor sparks in bold radiance, both in art-style and animation, environments and narrative. Transistor stands bold as a unique action – role-playing game (aka RPG). The indie title developed by Supergiant Games is engulfed in rich aesthetic mesmer in every way: it’s soundtrack being no different. The score composed by Darren Korb with vocals by Ashley Bennet, narrate the journey in the lucid truth of the protagonist.
Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery (2011)
Another older indie title gracing our list, is the exceptionally enchanting engulf of the lush, dreamlike journey that is Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery. Initially released for IOS devices, the game was developed by independent gaming developers Superbrothers and Capybara Games. With a hazy effervescence between reality and the dream world, Jim Guthrie’s score sings as the illumination of a night owl in this pixel-art journey.
Mirrors’ Edge (2008)
The dynamic minimalist thrill that is Mirrors’ Edge strikes daring in it’s dystopian immersion, with a limited colour palette and stand-out stylistic modernity – the narrative follows the traverse of protagonist Faith as she glides seamlessly over the rooftops of the city. Developed by one of the most prominent gaming corporation Electronic Arts, the style and tone of the accompanying soundtrack: written by Swedish composer Solar Fields, creates an atmospheric auditory narrative weaving with Faith through her dystopian cityscape traverse.
Portal 2 (2011)
One of the most acclaimed and loved puzzle-games to date, the gem that is Portal 2 (specifically) was destined to appear on this list: with it’s mind-bending puzzles our protagonist is forced to complete as she makes her way through a minimalist, dystopian isolation – accompanied only by the glitch of technology and taken hostage by the sadistic, yet equally sarcastic robot Glados. Developed by Valve Corporation, the composer of the soundtrack Mike Morasky blended the perfect electronic, driving tech atmosphere as our protagonist searches for freedom from not-so-friendly Artificial Intelligence.
“Well done. Here come the test results: “You are a horrible person.” [Subtitles read]: “I’m serious.”] That’s what it says: a horrible person. We weren’t even testing for that.”
Metronomicon: Slay the Dancefloor (2016)
A game jam-packed with fast-paced glamour as we delve in the eccentricity of the turn-based action based on dance (combining dance moves to literally defeat enemies) this highly addictive and, rather difficult title contains a diverse soundtrack of electronic goodness to immerse oneself within the world of beating-up-the-bad-guys-with-rad-dance-moves – Metronomicon was developed by independent studio Puuba, with a soundtrack consisting of many enjoyable and catchy tracks.
No Mans’ Sky (2016)
Despite the controversy surrounding No Mans’ Sky upon it’s release and its further developments, there’s no way we could have excluded this open-universe adventure from this list. Developed by independent studio Hello Games, the soundtrack is absolutely as rich and luminescent as one would expect, whirring through the universe in your spaceship ready to discover new and strange lands. With the soundtrack being composed by 65daysofstatic, the title itself may not have originally lived up to its hype, but the score definitely presented as a bold and vivid strong point: a star studded experimentation perfect for traversing an unknown universe.
Celebrated indie title Fez is perhaps one of the most well-regarded games when it comes to it’s incredibly lush pixel-art style and break-through gameplay: in a unique blend of 2D / 3D development, our protagonist Fez literally twists and turns the world in order to progress, to solve puzzles and traverse the incredibly artistic, charming levels. Developed by Polytron Corporation founded by designer Phil Fish, the soundtrack for this beauty was composed by acclaimed video-game and film composer Disasterpeace. Glimmering in it’s narration through Fez’s journey, the soundtrack embraces and explores this pixel-art world.
As an avid gamer I come across many misconceptions when it comes to video games: the automatic go-to is the perception that video games are solely action and gore, with addictive male players focused on basically, killing everything. Yet this is simply not true, the video game community and world is continuing to expand (surpassing the film industry at this point) with the releases of incredible titles that truly show the artistic, innovative bold and mind-blowing experiences – the possibilities and potential of video games as a standalone art form is already a reality: sometimes for those of us more focused on the artistic, otherworldly and engulfing narrative we have to dig a bit deeper – however with the continuing star burst of new, unique titles which are diverse in content and character, expansive, accessible and enjoyable for all types of people, the video game world is breaking away from toxic connotations and myths (for the most part) and leading us on interactive journey’s that can truly be used to express, evolve and bring the beauty of the art-form out into the open.