The Best Video Game Music of 2017 [So Far]

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Despite the year only being halfway over, 2017's game releases have been both plentiful and genuinely astonishing. However, what makes this year stand out particularly is the number of excellent soundtracks that have come out of each game release.

Regardless of genre or scope, 2017 has seen its share of breathtaking scores. While this list may cover the best music that has come out thus far, it barely scratches the surface of what the year may still have to offer. 

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment 

Yacht Club Games has shown time and time again how capable they are of making the Shovel Knight experience more enjoyable as time goes on, and the game's expansion, "Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment", is no different. Yacht Club Games is able to capture the essence of classic retro titles while iterating on that style, rather than emulating it. The result is a soundtrack that is effortlessly memorable and an absolute pleasure to listen to. 

 

Yooka-Laylee

Grant Kirkhope is one of the most influential composers from the Nintendo 64 era, and his work shines beautifully on the Yooka-Laylee soundtrack. Although many of the tracks deliberately try to capture the memorable melodies from the Banjo Kazooie games, there is plenty that makes these songs entirely unique. The music evolves as the player navigates through a level, creating a sense of mechanical and sonic progression. 

NieR: Automata 

Square Enix needs practically no introduction when it comes to musical quality, but it is still worth discussing just what makes NeiR: Automata stand out. Each song perfectly reflects the general foreboding, haunting atmosphere that the narrative consistently replicates. Melancholic chords and echoic vocals do a great job creating a rich, lush atmosphere. Each track harnesses more emotion than the last, creating a truly masterful musical experience. 

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Composer Manaka Kataoka packs an unbelievable amount of musical excellence into Breath of the Wild. What makes the soundtrack so impressive, however, is that even the smallest song is as meaningful as the most sweeping epics. Equal care was put into every aspect of the score, and it shows time and time again. Songs like "Kass' Theme" may contain only one instrument, but do a perfect job of bringing the character to life. 

Persona 5 

Persona 5 might as well have set the bar for how music should be treated in games this year. Music is the lifeblood of the game, with everything being carried by its infectious rhythm. The score isn't an accompaniment to the game, it very much is the game. The jazz-rock fusion exemplified throughout the score is a genre rarely seen in AAA games, yet its presence is crucial to the game's success. It was difficult deciding on just one track to capture Persona 5's sheer mastery, as each one expertly reflects the game's tone (pun definitely intended). 

What made these game soundtracks stand out as much as they did was the fact that the music always felt like an extension of the game itself, rather than an accompaniment. Scores that weave into the narrative, transitioning with the fluctuating pace of the game, ultimately do a lot to stand out in our memories. What's most promising about the games of this list is their willingness to defy genre tradition to create something unlike anything we've heard before. 

Published Jun. 13th 2017

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