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A factor that can go a long way towards making an RPG timeless is the soundtrack that accompanies it. Standing out on top this year is Final Fantasy XVI, composed by a fantastic team led by Masayoshi Soken. With an inviting title track punctuated by operatic vocals, players are audibly beckoned into a world of intrigue, before soon being shot into thrilling action worthy of a fantasy blockbuster. The music never lets up in its quality, drumming players into a frenzy during combat scenes that are only heightened during any instance an Eikon graces the stage, and in particularly the events surrounding Titan are made all the more stunning by the musical backing.
Even the town interludes and quieter moments are show pieces that sweep players up in them to maintain significance through every moment. There’s a tightrope that is danced along finely that ties various musical stylings into a cohesive and fascinating symphony that is a feast for the ears. The soundtrack’s ability to build to new crescendos, balancing itself before rising again in a variety of ways, is simply a master class in auditory exhibition.
Octopath Traveler II is mesmerizing, and its soundtrack is no exception. Yasunori Nishiki’s superb OST features a fantastic music score that made the journey enjoyable and memorable. Many catchy melodies started to linger in players’ minds, such as the game’s main theme, which mixes a triumphant vibe with touches of melancholy. All the battle tracks combined with the visuals took combat to another level and enhanced the excitement. Exploring this world was fantastic thanks to the beautiful music that also made cutscenes remarkably impactful and the game as a whole a treat for the ears.
The Last Spell by Ishtar Games is a surprise indie hit mixing a great tactical-roguelike gameplay hook with excellent 2D visuals. The rocking and eerie soundtrack from Rémi Gallego / The Algorithm really helps tie everything together into the complete gaming package. The creepy subdued music during the base-building and power-up sections helps to set the mood for the dark world’s visual style. Once the battles start, guitar riffs amp up the excitement and tension giving the illusion of a pumped-up pace in an otherwise slower tactical experience. The boss battle tracks manage to dial it up even more to round out one of our favorite soundtracks of the year.
by Ryan Costa, Luis Mauricio, and Johnathan Stringer