There are some game soundtracks that are universally known. It would be hard to find someone that doesn't know the Super Mario Bro theme. Then there are songs like One Winged Angel or Dearly Beloved that any avid game player should atleast know of. The music of a game when done right can add so much emotional impact to a moment. You identify the sounds with the arrival of someone to fear, or with the death of a beloved character. The music can do everything from hype you up to making you a little teary eyed. Music can place games into the ranks of timeless legends.
The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is a game that was crafted with such precision and care. The masterfully tailored stories, the rich mythos and the expansive world are accompanied by the 81 minute long soundtrack. The ancient Celtic / Polish influence really shines through. The singers have a purity to their voice and the use of lutes, bagpipes, and a variety of other seemingly lost instruments give a unique character to the soundtrack.
But among all the songs the one that stood out to me the most was "Priscilla's Theme". The song tells the love story of Geralt and Yennefer. And within the game it comes at the most unexpected of times. You just find yourself listening to a bard and she just casually sings a song that surprises Geralt as well as the player.
Metal Gear Solid 3
Metal Gear Solid has one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time. Even the alert sound is a widely known among gamers. I could probably write an entire article about the best Metal Gear Solid songs. In fact, I probably will. But the song Snake Eater captures the James Bond'esque feel the game was going for.
But this is a song that you can't fully appreciate unless you've played the games. There is a degree of nostalgia with this particular song that all Metal Gear Fans know. And the song holds more meaning as the truth behind the actions of your beloved mentor are revealed. And in key moments of the fourth game the song makes a reappearance that brings back all the memories.
Snake Eater is a song that can make even a ladder climbing scene seem epic. In fact, that's actually something they did in the game. The player climbed a ladder for 5 minutes straight, and somehow it was epic.
Kingdom Hearts 365/2
Nearly even person has heard someone playing Dearly Beloved on a piano. And if you ever learned to play the piano it was probably one of the first songs you taught yourself. As much as I love that particular song I want to highlight a different song. Kingdom Hearts, like most of the entries on this list, has an endless selection of great songs. And what's great about the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack is that almost every song can blend into another.
Xion was a character in 365/2 that met a tragic end. Throughout the game you grew attached to her and saw the friendship between Roxas, Axel, and Xion grow. And then she didn't even get to die. She just became nothing. No one remembered who she was and all traces of her existence where forever forgotten. Saying goodbye to Xion was hard but inevitable. It needed to be done.
Oh and the song is pretty good.
Devils Never Cry
Devil May Cry 3
Devil May Cry brought metal into the video game world. And they also brought a weird mix of rock opera. You can actually hear the duality of Dante being expressed in this track. You hear the strange angelic opera and the grunge metal one after another. After hearing them both they combine perfectly at the last part of the song. While a lot of other entries are associated with some sad or nostalgic event in the games this song's only association is with style. I can just imagine Dante taunting Cerberus and then smashing that little doggy into the ground.
The modern world intersecting with demons of old is what Devil May Cry is about. The soundtrack is simply...cool. And this song in particular represents the game series as a whole.
The Legend of Zelda
I'm not even going to pretend like I played Ocarina of Time. So I won't say this song brings back memories or anything. I just REALLY like this song. Flamenco guitar is one of the coolest styles out there and Gerudo Valley takes that style and creates an amazing song. No nostalgia or associations have to be made to appreciate Gerudo Valley.
It actually is a bit strange to see Gerudo Valley as a song in a Zelda game. It is a bit different from the typical Zelda song. The complete change in style is admirable and you can tell the composers were having fun with it. I can see a song like this altering the atmosphere of the area completely.
If you don't like Gerudo Valley you probably just don't like music.