In recent years, it has felt perfectly normal to have just one category for the audio delights found in videogames. After all, many games made good use of an orchestral score and if there was a proper soundtrack in a game, full of licensed music, well, it was rare, and usually not all that memorable. So naturally, in years such as these, both scores and soundtracks were put in the same category. This year is different though, because there has been some real treasures in both fields, all deserving of special praise and mention.
Winner: Life is Strange
Metal Gear Solid V gave us the hits of the 80’s as a collectable,Fallout 4 had a fine selection of golden oldies to blow up Sucidal Super Mutants to, and Tales from the Borderlands opened each of its episodes with perfectly-paired songs to create the year’s best title sequences. The game with the soundtrack that most struck a chord with fans was for the episodic indie time-travel game Life is Strange.
Life is Strange’s developer Dontnod have previous in ensuring the music in their games is memorable. Remember Me featured an outstanding original score that blended electronica and classical (with a bit of theremin thrown in for good measure!) to stunning effect. Life is Strange is a tad more understated in its original score (which is still lovely), the real punch of the game’s soundtrack comes from the licensed indie folk music it uses and how it is implemented.
From the opening episode’s walk through the school halls to the sounds of ‘To All Of You’ by Syd Matters to the emotional impact of Foals ‘Spanish Sahara’ in the final moments of the last episode, each and every track slots into a poignant moment within protagonist Max’s dark summer adventure. There is much to admire, enjoy and adore about Life is Strange, but you get the feeling that, without that soundtrack, none of it would be quite so impactful.
Runner-up – Fallout 4
With a superbly crafted soundscape, Fallout 4 nails the audio/visual experience with classic tracks such as ‘Anything Goes’ by Cole Porter and Nat King Cole’s ‘Orange Coloured Sky’ amplifying the atmosphere as you forage through the huge, desolate game world.