2018 was a great year for games—and where there are great games, you'll typically find great game music.
We've already honored our top game picks for 2018, but we thought we'd dig a little deeper and pick out our 10 favorite game music tracks of the year, too. We selected from a wide range of styles served up by a wide range of games. If your family gets too obnoxious over the Christmas season, feel free to plug in these sweet tunes and jam until you're appropriately blissed out.
"Field of Hopes and Dreams" (Deltarune)
One of 2018's nicest surprises is Toby Fox's Deltarune, a follow-up to Fox's cherished 2015 RPG, Undertale. Deltarune is more of a concept than a full-blown game; Fox has plans to make a full experience as soon as possible, and I'm hoping we hear something positive in 2019. For now, Deltarune already has a soundtrack worthy of Undertale's legacy. The game / demo (whatever you want to call it) belts out "Field of Hopes and Dreams" early on, signalling that you're truly on your way to save the world. So much energy in those opening notes alone!
"Lazy River" (Donut County)
Donut County is a weird little indie title that's all about opening big, huge holes in a cute town populated mostly by animals. It's not inaccurate to describe it as "Reverse Katamari Damacy meets Animal Crossing, and they all sink into Hell together." "Lazy River" is an ironically chill tune for such an unsettling, frantic game, but those warped notes at the start of the tune let you know what you're getting into.
"Lavender Town" (Pokemon Let's Go)
There's a lot to love about Pokemon Let's Go, and I feel like not enough has been said about its wonderful new music mixes. Lavender Town's new tune preserves the creepy "tip-toe" effect of the original Game Boy chiptune but also adds a hefty dash of melancholy strings and wind instruments. The end product says in no uncertain terms, "Here lies an angry Marowak, succeeded by a very sad Cubone." RIP.
"Stolen Dreams, Lost Light" (Octopath Traveler)
Most of Octopath Traveler's titular travelers come up against dark circumstances as their individual stories draw to a close. One town's dabbling in human sacrifice, another's burning petty criminals alive as a twisted way of delivering justice; you know how JRPGs get. "Stolen Dreams, Lost Light" is usually the song that plays when you roll into these towns, some of which are bathed under a perpetual sunset. It's an excellent example of a game's storytelling, graphics, and sound coming together to make your skin crawl.
"Nergigante's Theme" (Monster Hunter: World)
Nergigante from Monster Hunter World is a nightmare of spikes, teeth, and horns. It's well-equipped for its hobby, which is primarily hunting, killing, and eating other Elder Dragons. Appropriately, Nergigante has a big, startling theme that immediately informs you of your place as an appetizer (or a light meal, at best). Now, if you're Kat, you can hunt down the Nergigante over and over in a reckless quest for armor and weapon materials. Most of us aren't Kat, however, and would be swallowed alive in six seconds.
"The Doom" (Return of the Obra Dinn)
Return of the Obra Dinn is a game a lot of people missed out on—myself included, sadly—but Caty pointed out this forceful, powerful tune from the game, and it won its place on The List. Obra Dinn's developer, Lucas Pope, already demonstrated his talent with sound in his previous game, Papers, Please. Every sound effect and music track he composes and utilizes carries a message, and "The Doom" is no exception.
"Dolphin Surf: You and I" (Tetris Effect)
Tetris Effect's "Dolphin Surf" re-affirms how dolphins, relaxing music, and psychedelic effects to together like—well, like dolphins, relaxing music, and psychedelic effects. It's probably a good thing I've yet to play Tetris Effect on PSVR; the minute I slip that visor on and enter this stage, I'm never emerging.
Celeste is, above all else, a game about never giving up no matter how bad things get (or how often you fall to your death—you know what, consider that part metaphorical). Lena Raine's soundtrack is the perfect accompaniment while you and Madeline struggle together. "Resurrections" stands as an especially shining example of Raine's talent for mixing chiptunes with conventional instruments.
"May I? Stand Unshaken" (Red Dead Redemption 2)
Red Dead Redemption 2 is not a happy game. "May I? Stand Unshaken" sounds like the lamentations of a person whose world is coming apart at the seams around them, and let's just say it fits. It received a great live cover at the Video Game Awards, too!
Everything in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
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