It’s that time of year again, where we look back at the year that was, and pick our top three games across a host of categories! As with years past we’ll reveal one award winner per day, and this year we’ve got a massive 17 different awards to share out. It was a difficult process to choose the winners this year! While 2019 might not have had quite as many spectacularly big blockbuster releases as years past, the quality of games that were released with far less fanfare than they deserves is truly incredible.
Music plays a critical role in a video game – and not just the rhythm games. Music sets the emotional core of the game and builds its atmosphere, giving us something to connect to on that very deep level, before we’ve even picked up the controller. Some of the best music scores are front-and-centre, asking you to pay real attention to it as you play. At other times, the music works in the background, to the point where you might not remember specific tunes, but you certainly remember the overall impact that the soundtrack had on you. This year’s winners include both.
One of Square Enix’s great weapons is the soundtracks that it produces for its games. They’re memorable enough that symphonies can tour the world playing nothing but Square Enix music and every seat in the house will be sold instantly. When it comes time for Square Enix to give fans a “love letter” game to remind them of everything they loved about whatever series – be that Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, or something else, Square Enix can always rely on the pull of having so much brilliant music to include in the game for reference. This is what happened with Chocobo Mystery Dungeon. it’s a “best of” hits of Final Fantasy, and it gives the already charming game yet another layer of pure nostalgia for any Final Fantasy fan.
As a narrative experience, Death Stranding is complex enough that it will leave some (if not many) players cold. It’s quite academic in tone and very much a product of Kojima’s head. So the emotional connection is held in those moments where you’re out in the wilderness of Death Stranding, and the camera pans out, giving you a view of the ruined, apocalyptic world, while dirge-like indie rock music kicks in to provide the soundtrack. There’s a meditative, reflective quality to the way Death Stranding does its music, and that’s ideal for a game that’s really asking players to step back and think a little.
It came out of nowhere, but won us over with its verve and energy. Sayonara Wild Hearts is one of those games where you will feel the music as you play, so immersed within it as you’ll be. The visuals are offer that heavy neon glow, and the eclectic, dynamic soundtrack matches the almost-overbearing aesthetic in incredible style. It’s not a long game – in fact, playing Sayonara Wild Hearts is not dissimilar to the length of listening to an album, and if you’ve ever felt yourself moving to the music while tuning in with a good pair of headphones on, then you’ll know exactly what Sayonara is, because it is that exact experience, gamified.
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