8. Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy “Main Theme” (Steam)
This doesn’t count as cheating, since I didn’t really realize this game existed until it came out on Steam during the summer. It’s a funny and fun game, and this theme really puts you in a mood to kick some generic RPG ass in 30 seconds.
7. Final Fantasy Dimensions “Ruins” (Android)
As a series, Final Fantasy is well known for its absolutely amazing music. However, as the years have gone by, more recent entries in the series have soured a lot of my love and respect for the series. This leaves a tremendous hole in my heart and gaming schedule for something to re-kindle those great Final Fantasy moments. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy Dimensions is a spot-on love letter to fans of the series with each track reminding you of the FF glory days. “Ruins” in particular is my favorite because it has that definite Final Fantasy sound with that feeling of tension from some impending bit of drama or danger just around the corner.
6. Trine 2 “Main Theme” (Steam)
I have been pretty unhappy with Trine 2 thus far, given how similar it feels to the first game (which I loved). The music is definitely great though. It has all the feel of fantasy, but with a much more wistful, adventurous feel. This isn’t a deep and thoughtful track like something you might find in the Elder Scrolls. This is fantasy adventure: pure and simple.
5. Halo 4 “117” (Xbox 360)
For a ‘generic FPS series’ popularized by ‘entitled, carebear console gamers’, the Halo series has traditionally had a strong soundtrack. Despite the change in studios and composer, Halo 4 is no exception to that trend. Halo 4’s soundtrack is strong, thematic, and fitting. As the longest song on this list, “117” has perhaps the most to say of any of them. Named after Master Chief himself, this track tries to convey the extreme since of duty and of badassness of the Halo series lone hero. When “117” kicks into high, orchestral gear toward the end, you will know what I mean.
4. Super Hexagon “Focus” (Steam)
Rare outside of music games and sappy cutscenes does music become central to the experience of an individual game. Super Hexagon is an exception to that rule. The game is completely simple though absurdly challenging, and the music either pumps you up or completely throws you off your rhythm. All of the game’s music is great, but this one in particular captures that frenzied action feel that the game puts me (and my heart) into.
3. FTL: Faster Than Light “Cosmos” (Steam)
FTL and its soundtrack might be somewhat of an acquired taste at first. You start with a foreboding atmosphere where you are completely lost and alone. Much of what you hear sounds like simple background noise. But then suddenly, there is a pulse. As you play and learn, your heart quickens as you begin to understand the challenge before you. You adapt and grow, and the pulse quickens still. Yet now there is a beat along with it. The rhythm carries you until everything breaks loose and you realize that this game and this song on its soundtrack are both incredibly fun.
2. Gravity Rush “Pleasure Quarter” (Playstation Vita)
I haven’t played the game, still, but the soundtrack was so good when I first heard it, that multiple tracks have ended up as various ringtones on my phone. This one in particular is the one I use for anyone who calls me. It makes phone calls enjoyable, it’s just that awesome.
1. Cargo Commander “Down the Drain (Homestuck Blues)” (Steam)
This might be a surprise pick for number one, but hear me out. It’s normal and typical for games to have music that is epic and sweeping, energetic, or moody and foreboding. That doesn’t mean that game soundtracks that utilize those elements are bad, it just means that when something strange comes along it stands out all the more. Cargo Commander’s title song is that something strange for me. This one song plays all throughout the game. You will hear it over and over. But it has a wistful and hopeful feel to it that sets the mood of the entire game. Sure, it is a depressing song, but in a completely self-aware way. Cargo Commander is all about a single person repeatedly doing the same thing over and over (probably to its own detriment), so I can only imagine the sort of personality/attitude the game’s lead might have. For all of us who have worked a dead end job of endlessly repeating the same mundane tasks for little pay and no respect, “down the drain we’ll go // that is all we know, that we know”.