Best Game Soundtracks April 2017
Greetings once again, fair listeners! I’m here to round up the best game soundtracks of April, providing you with links to listen and purchase sweet new albums to accompany your everyday lives. This year’s torrent of quality games has abated only slightly, so there are still a bounty of excellent scores to sample. Let’s get started!
Persona 5! At long last, Atlus’s high school simulator / fantasy Inception heart-stealing heist adventure is finally upon us, and whether or not you’re willing to commit yourself to its hundred-hour saga of teenage drama, you absolutely must give the soundtrack a go. Composer Shoji Meguro and his associates on the Atlus Sound Team have constructed another tour-de-force of jazzy, poppy tunes. I’ve put “Life Will Change” up above, but if you’ve already heard this one done to death on your Twitter timeline, click through to the YouTube playlist below and sample as many tracks as you can-- I’m partial to the penultimate boss theme, though beware spoilers! The full album will run you a cool $30 on iTunes, though I paid double that for an import copy from Amazon and I 100% do not regret it. Almost certainly one of the best soundtracks we’re going to get this year.
David O’Reilly’s ultimate embodiment simulator Everything was released on PS4 at the end of last month, and has just recently hit PC and Mac, and despite its obviously problematic SEO, it has nonetheless received pretty universal acclaim. It turns out everything is good! That’s a relief. I was beginning to come round to the opinion that everything was terrible. Everything’s score is by Ben Lukas Boysen and cellist Sebastian Plano, and it sets the tone perfectly for the cosmic, out-there experience of being a grove of trees and then a mammoth and then a lenticular galaxy. I can’t recommend this soundtrack enough--it is meditative and restorative. I think that if you listen to this album, you might start to think things are all right.
Rain World came out last month as well, and the soundtrack has since hit composer James Primate’s Bandcamp. The score for Rain World is ambient, haunting, and often menacing, which befits the game’s “nature, red in tooth and claw” theme. Popular opinion of Rain World has been pretty split between the camps that appreciate its punishing difficulty and those who are turned off by it, but just about everybody has remarked that it’s both sonically and visually striking. Have a listen to some tracks off the soundtrack and see what you think!
Yooka-Laylee came out this month, debuting to… less-than-stellar reviews. It seems as though it couldn’t quite recapture the magic of 3D platformers from their heyday in the late ‘90s. I was a young man who convinced himself that he enjoyed Gex: Enter the Gecko, so I have to imagine that Yooka-Laylee will find some adherents, but on the whole you might be well advised to steer clear of the adventures of Bat and Lizard. The soundtrack was written by three Rare alumni, David Wise, Grant Kirkhope, and Steve Burke, so if you have some fond memories of Banjo or Kazooie or both, you might want to give the Yooka-Laylee soundtrack a listen. (Worth mentioning that David Wise also composed the soundtrack to Snake Pass, out this month--but no soundtrack for that one yet. Stay tuned!)
Normally I don’t include just-released soundtracks to months-old games, but I’ll make an exception for The Unspoken for two reasons. First, if you’re a pleb like me who doesn’t own a virtual reality headset, this game probably flew beneath your radar (I hadn’t heard of it until I discovered the soundtrack), and second, this score is by Gareth Coker, who’s responsible for the soundtrack to Ori and the Blind Forest, unquestionably one of the best scores of 2015. I still don’t know much about The Unspoken--it’s a VR game and you have magic? But Coker’s score is intense and compelling, and the album is worth a listen even if, like me, you’re probably never going to play the game.
Many years after its initial promised release, Cosmic Star Heroine finally made its way onto PCs and consoles this month. The latest from Zeboyd Games continues the indie dev house’s tradition of retro-styled RPGs--this time, they’ve pulled aesthetic inspiration from 16-bit greats like Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star. The score, by HyperDuck SoundWorks, has a sort of “Sega Saturn plus” feel to it, taking the synthy sounds of 32-bit systems and updating them for the modern era. If you’re feeling nostalgic, give this one a listen!
If you’re a Switch owner who’s looking for something a little more bite-sized than Breath of the Wild, you may have picked up Graceful Explosion Machine, the colorful, frenetic shooter from indie team Vertex Pop. The game’s soundtrack, by Robby Duguay, is a whole bucket of lovely, medium-intensity electronica, perfect for putting on if you have to get some work done.
I was delighted to discover that this month provided us with another Austin Wintory album! Mr. Wintory scored Deformers, a multiplayer brawler from The Order: 1886 developer Ready at Dawn. Deformers… does not look like that game. Deformers looks a bit like, uh, “Madballs.” Regardless of the game itself, Wintory here brings his usual talent to bear--and it seems as though he was given considerable license to get weird, as the score is all over the place, from Ennio Morricone-inspired Western music to flamenco tracks and more. This is a delight to listen to just to be able to hear what Wintory can do when he’s turned loose.
Two more games deserve notice before I wrap up for this month: First, The Sexy Brutale, the time-loop murder mystery from Tequila Works. The game’s soundtrack hasn’t seen wide release yet (you’d have to buy a special edition to get one), but keep an ear out for it anyway, because listen to this. Right?
Also, What Remains of Edith Finch released last week, with a score by Jeff Russo. As of this writing, you can only pick up the soundtrack as Steam DLC, but it’s quite likely that it will see wide release soon. I’ll keep you updated!
That’s all for now! Check back in next month. Will we get soundtracks to Prey and Rime? A new Fire Emblem? We’ll see!