Lindsay’s top five game soundtracks of 2023

Do a little ditty, dance a little jive to these hits.

7 mins read

One of the great joys about a great game is the soundtrack that enhances it. With the right composer and musicians backing a project, it can be elevated to become something truly emotive and evocative. The very best soundtracks, just like in film, are very much worth listening to outside of the game too. The very best soundtracks are every bit as exceptional as a creative work as the finest in classical compositions or any of the Oscar winners.'s Discord banner. You click on it to be taken to the Website's Discord server

With that in mind, here are five soundtracks that you should give a listen to, even if you don’t play the game itself.

Final Fantasy XVI


I’ve been very vocal about the fact I generally disagree with the nominees/winners at The Game Awards, but one exception this year was Final Fantasy XVI‘s nomination and win for Best Score and Music. It absolutely deserved that win. It’s a bit weird to say that considering I don’t like much like the game’s theme song, Tsuki Wo Miteita – Moongazing. But the game’s score is, overall, phenomenal. With Masayoshi Soken as music director and lead composer, the score is (for the most part) kind of moody and classical. Prior to Final Fantasy XVI, Soken was primary composer for Final Fantasy XIV from the launch of the A Realm Reborn expansion onwards. He actually created a dedicated sound engine to edit/arrange music for Final Fantasy XVI in real-time so the speed and volume could be changed based on in-game actions; this is why the music is so seamless in FFXVI. There are over 200 tracks in-game, including a lot of variations to avoid using the same composition multiple times.

Fire Emblem Engage

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Fire Emblem Engage actually does the opposite of what Final Fantasy XVI does when it comes to music. FFXVI has commonalities through its score, whereas Intelligent Systems used different composers for each region in Fire Emblem Engage so that each place had a musical style all its own. It’s quite a smart way to separate different locales other than just using visual cues, and I have to give the developer props for that. Composers include Yasuhisa Baba, Kazuki Komai, Hiroki Morishita, Takeru Kanazaki, Fumihiro Isobe, and Takafumi Wada. I also think the game has a strong theme song, thanks to its poppy yet epic feel.

Goodbye Volcano High

A screenshot from Goodbye Volcano High. Three dinosaurs are in a band onstage. The lead singer and guitarist is pale blue with wings and tattered black clothing. To the right is the bassist, a purple dino with a purple hat and yellow hoodie. At the back left is a pink dinosaur with red clothes playing the drums.

What would you do if you only had one year left to live? That’s the question at the heart of Goodbye Volcano High. The game follows Fang has they prepare for a future as a musician… until they learn there may no longer be a future at all. The love of music flows through the game, and the soundtrack adapts to choices made. Goodbye Volcano High’s soundtrack is composed by Dabu, who has always done work on epic titles like Boyfriend Dungeon and Dwarf Fortress. Vocals are by Fang’s voice talent, Lachlan Watson, and musician Brigitte Nagger (AKA Common Holly). The tracks are a bit echo-y and angsty; some remind me of what you may have heard on The OC back in the early 00s.

Octopath Traveler II

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I’m a sucker for a good battle theme, and that’s entirely why Octopath Traveler II is on this list. Because there are eight main characters, there are eight characters each with their own theme. And because there are eight characters, there are eight final battles and eight final battle themes. Like Final Fantasy XVI, this is a massive soundtrack; it is over six hours long across six discs. The Octopath Traveler II score was composed by Yasunori Nishiki, who composed the score to the first game. He’s also done work on titles such as Final Fantasy VII Remake and Granblue Fantasy Versus.

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical

A screenshot from Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical. Grace either says or thinks, "How about a solo?" She has black hair and wears all black clothing. She is standing in front of a microphone. The options are "have everyone sing together," rip out a solo," and "let Freddie and Pan sing."

When I first pitched this list, I said it should just be five times Stray Gods. I was only half joking. Like Goodbye Volcano High, Stray Gods has music as a part of the narrative and not just as background sound. The game was inspired by a musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with the developers aiming to combine musical theatre and storytelling. The game’s branching narrative has players making decisions that will impact not just dialogue, but also melodies, lyrics, and styles of music that Grace (the protagonist) sings. The game was scored by Austin Wintory (Erica, The Banner Saga 3); all songs were co-written by Wintory, singer Montaigne (they represented Australia at Eurovision 2021), and musical comedy trio Tripod. The Stray Gods soundtrack is the only one on this list to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media (what a stupidly long award name); it’s also the only good game on the list – the other nominees this year are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (like, what?!), God of War Ragnarök, the game that shall not be named, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

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Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

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