Ground Punch’s Best of 2016 – Game Awards

Composed specifically to capture and convey what is happening on screen; be it highlighting piogniant moments, enforcing adrenaline pumped sequences, or simply setting the mood with great background music, these games offer the best original scores of 2016.

Night School Studio’s Oxenfree is a hauntingly memorable experience not only because of its gameplay but also because of its score. Composer scntfc (a.k.a. Andrew Rohrmann, known for Galak-Z: The Dimensional) incorporates ethereal noises, obfuscated static, heavy bass, reverb, and a sort of lo-fi production to create sounds that oscillate from relaxing and tasteful to terrifying and suspenseful. I don’t buy soundtracks often, but this is one that’s been in rotation since its release.

Written by Jeremy Winslow

Mick Gordon’s work in video games has been the subject of praise for a while now, with his pounding hard-rock beats lending themselves naturally to games like Wolfenstein: The New Order and Killer Instinct. But with his work on DOOM, he really outdid himself. Brutal, abrasive metal rhythms and sinister strings give the entire soundtrack a unique feel, and any fan of metal would be right at home listening to it in the car on the ride to work. Some of the highlight tracks include Harbinger, and At Doom’s Gate, a re-imagining of one of the most iconic songs in all of gaming.

Written by Jordan Leendertsen

The moment Overwatch boots up, the main theme is there to greet you: an epic-sounding orchestral piece that never fails to get me pumped up to shoot some fools with friends. Each map has its own theme, influenced by the musical stylings of the region. Dorado’s Theme, for example, is an upbeat samba track complete with wailing horns, acoustic guitar, and plentiful maracas appropriate to its Mexican setting, while the sub-Saharan Numbani features a wildly different yet equally cheery tune replete with chants and harmonies inspired by African folk music. It’s the way the music is used that really completes the package, though. During gameplay, the music is dynamic, shifting as teams move between phases of play. The result is an incredibly effective soundscape that ups the intensity of close games and overtime plays with pounding, high-bpm drum tracks, then shifts back down to charming melodies during post and pre-game periods. Music may not drive the Overwatch experience in the same way that it does Oxenfree, but the game’s soundtrack is a rich, varied collection of feel-good tracks that perfectly suits the aesthetic Blizzard is going for.

Written by Sam Young

Runners-Up: Abzû, Dark Souls 3, Destiny: Rise of Iron, Final Fantasy XV, Furi, Hyper Light Drifter, The Last Guardian, No Man’s Sky, Owlboy, Pokémon Go, Thumper, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Virginia.

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