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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

The best video game soundtracks you’ve never heard of

Main+characters+Stella%2C+Gwen+and+Daffodil+in+Spiritfarer
Courtesy of Thunder Lotus Games
Main characters Stella, Gwen and Daffodil in “Spiritfarer”

Playing video games can provide an immersive experience and a chance to get lost in a great story, but for those who don’t play many video games in their spare time, the one thing everyone can take away from video games without picking up a controller is the music.

Though there are a plethora of awards games can win for their soundtracks alone, people not well-versed in the gaming community may not be aware of the amazing tracks video games have to offer. Some popular examples of renowned game soundtracks may include “Minecraft,” “Skyrim,” or any of the “Legend of Zelda” games, but the ones that really deserve the spotlight are those with less recognition. 

Spiritfarer

This eight-time award-nominated indie game sounds just as beautiful as it looks. The relaxing story-driven management game fills players’ ears with soothing music the minute they open the game. The game boasts a 40-song soundtrack, all composed by award-winning composer Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis. The delicate music has the ability to make listeners feel at ease as soon as it reaches their ears. Whether it’s a beautiful piano track or sweet acoustic guitar, the instrumentals will leave listeners in a relaxed state of mind. Notable favorites from the orchestral style tracks are titles “Spiritfarer,” “Stella’s Lullaby” and “At Sea,” which all have over a million listens on Spotify. Listening to these songs feels like being enveloped in a warm hug.

Gris

“Gris” is a beautifully heartbreaking platform-adventure game that was nominated for seven awards and has won two. Players will find themselves immersed in the uniquely animated world of “Gris,” as a young girl finding her way through grief. The melancholic soundtrack, composed by the Spanish band Berlinist, will haunt listeners in the best way, making them feel every emotion as they dance through the tracks. Similar to “Spiritfarer” in its mostly instrumental score, this game adds wistful vocals to some parts of its 27-song tracklist. Listeners will feel like they hear a symphony when playing Berlinist’s tracks made up of piano, strings and lyricless vocals come together to create an evocative atmosphere to guide the sorrow-filled journey of “Gris.” If any score on this list earns the title of masterpiece, it’s certainly this one. 

Sea of Solitude

In this adventure game, players will find themselves in the mind of Kay, a lost girl sailing through an ocean of monsters, trying to find her way out of the darkness. The game revolves around mental health as it seeks to help players understand what it means to be alone. In its exploration of loneliness and what it means to be human, a powerful soundtrack is born. Composer Guy Jackson brings in vocals from Stella Angelika and Laura James to give players a mix of instrumentals and just one track of stunning lyrics. 

The 20-song soundtrack is composed of a mixture of downtempo and upbeat songs as they go through all the emotions of the story. Some positive tracks like “My Floating Sanctuary” and “Discover the Past” will give listeners a feel-good vibe that’s difficult to capture in instrumental tracks. Undoubtedly, the best song to come from this game is “I Picture You Before Me,” which has both a lyrical and instrumental version. The sweet ballad paints a picture of someone so in love, they put their lover before themselves. As if the sweet lyrics weren’t enough to make listeners swoon, the violin that replaces vocals in the instrumental version is just as moving.

Life is Strange Series

The “Life is Strange” series began in 2015 and has since paved the way for narrative-driven story games where the players’ choice matters and affect the way their story turns out. In the eight years since its first release, developers have released titles “Life is Strange: Before the Storm,” “Life is Strange 2” and “Life is Strange: True Colors” along with the spin-off games “The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit” and “Tell Me Why.” Each respective title boasts its own amazing soundtrack of songs curated to fit the tone as well as entire albums written just for the game. 

The first two games in the series have an impressive number of songs to discover, much like a movie with an amazing soundtrack. The first “Life is Strange” has the ability to bring players to tears with its mix of moving storylines and tear-jerking sounds with titles like “Santa Monica Dream” by Angus & Julia Stone, “Mt. Washington” by Local Natives and “Kids Will Be Skeletons” by Mogwai, just to name a few. “Life is Strange” follows suit with its indie-feel playlist containing songs like “Moon and Moon” by Bat for Lashes, “I Found a Way” by First Aid Kit and melancholy king Sufjan Stevens’s “Death with Dignity,” who has songs featured in Captain Spirit as well. 

The crowning achievement of the franchise’s soundtracks is undoubtedly indie-folk band Daughters’ work for the prequel  “Life is Strange: Before the Storm.” The remarkable direction this game went in having an artist pen an entire album just for the game rather than compiling a playlist of tracks certainly paid off. The atmospheric album, named “Music from Before the Storm,” will stir up emotions in listeners unlike any other. Paired perfectly with the cinematic scenes in the game, the music has the ability to move players (including me) to tears. Heart-aching tracks like “All I Wanted,” and “A Hole in the Earth” with lyrics like “Oh, and I wonder / why I’m not wanted” and “I’m still haunted by those open wounds / I won’t express them truly to you,” mark the amazing ability Daughter has to write and produce sorrow-filled music. 

Whether you’re on the hunt for cozy background music for your day-to-day activities or tracks to put you on an emotional rollercoaster, there’s always beauty to discover with music in the world of video games. 

All soundtracks are available to stream on all music platforms.

Follow Abby on Twitter @astreabbs

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About the Contributor
Abby O'Connor, Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/her
Abby is a senior majoring in print/web journalism and minoring in english. When she's not writing for the Journal, you can find her sipping a cup of coffee either reading or playing video games. She also enjoys spending time with her dog and going on hikes. Music and arts is her passion and she hopes to find a job writing about what she loves. Follow Abby on X @astreabbs

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The best video game soundtracks you’ve never heard of