Last year, there were loads of superb soundtracks in gaming across different genres with Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown topping our best soundtracks list. Check out 2019’s full list here. 2020 has seen many re-releases through remakes, ports, and also original releases. This has led to an eclectic set of soundtracks across platforms with some of the best ones hitting later in the year. Ahead of 2021, here are the best game soundtracks of 2020.
Best video game soundtracks of 2020
10. Mad Rat Dead
Mad Rat Dead from NIS America is an excellent rhythm platformer but it really excels in the music department. For Mad Rat Dead, NIS in Japan got a lot of artists to compose music for the game with a wealth of upbeat tunes like Mad Rat Heart, Mimolette, Dark Fear, and more. Mad Rat Dead has a demo available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch so even if you aren’t sure about the game itself, it is worth trying the demo out for the great aesthetic and music.
9. Granblue Fantasy: Versus
Cygames’ mobile and browser game Granblue Fantasy has brilliant music so it was obvious that Granblue Fantasy: Versus that features original music and arrangements would have a great soundtrack. Granblue Fantasy: Versus goes above and beyond and delivered in every way when it comes to original music, songs from the mobile game, and arrangements across songs like Arvess, Macho Ultimatum, Paradise Lost, and many more. Granblue Fantasy: Versus might have one of the best soundtracks in a fighting game ever.
8. Sakura Wars
While most people hadn’t played a Sakura Wars game until the PS4 release earlier this year, the franchise has always had infectious music. Kohei Tanaka (Gravity Rush, One Piece) did the music for Sakura Wars and it is plain fantastic. Everything from the unforgettable opening theme to individual character themes and everyday music in Sakura Wars is perfect. While Sakura Wars may have been overlooked by some given the timing, it is an essential and the music stands out.
7. Ghost of Tsushima
Ghost of Tsushima might be one of the best looking open world games out there but the soundtrack from Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi is equally impressive. The score to Ghost of Tsushima includes adrenaline pumping battle music, slower and more atmospheric themes for individual locations, and the use of Japanese instruments like the shakuhachi and biwa only add to the experience. Individual character themes like Lady Misako are powerful and emotional. Ghost of Tsushima has one of Sony’s best soundtracks ever.
6. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
While Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition does include arrangements from the amazing Xenoblade Chronicles soundtracks, the new takes on classic songs and new music composed for the Future Connected epilogue more than justify its place in any top soundtracks list. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is our best Nintendo Switch game of 2020 and the music is one of the Xenoblade franchise’s defining factors. The new versions for Mechanical Rhythm and You Will Know Our Names are among the best battle themes of all time. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is one of the best soundtracks of 2020 and an essential for any Nintendo Switch owner.
5. Paper Mario: The Origami King
When Paper Mario: The Origami King was revealed, it looked great but with each new trailer, one thing was clear. The music is going to be special. Once the game released, this was confirmed with some of the most energetic music that dynamically changes in an impressive manner. While Paper Mario: The Origami King might not have been what some people wanted when it comes to gameplay mechanics, the music is easily some of the best Nintendo has ever produced in recent years. Hopefully Nintendo gives the Paper Mario: The Origami King soundtrack a proper release across various formats next year.
4. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
At this point, it is safe to assume that when Nihon Falcom has a new game release, the soundtrack will deliver. Falcom Sound Team JDK featuring various composers over the years is yet to deliver a bad soundtrack. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV is one of the best soundtracks in the Trails series and easily a highlight of the year with its multiple battle themes, catchy openings, and more mellow themes. While The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV itself asks a lot from players given the story and callbacks to prior games, the soundtrack is peak Falcom and one of the best soundtracks of the year.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Despite Animal Crossing: New Horizons not being as good as Animal Crossing: New Leaf in a lot of ways, the soundtrack nails exactly what a modern Animal Crossing game should sound like and it even managed to surpass expectations for many of the songs you hear during the day in-game. While the main theme is obviously very good, the 9 AM, 12 PM, 5 PM, and prologue music are standouts from the massive soundtrack. While Animal Crossing: New Horizons is no doubt one of Nintendo’s most successful games in a while, not having a proper soundtrack is something that needs to be rectified given the popularity of the music. It is going to be interesting to see how Animal Crossing: New Horizons evolves when it comes to music through future events and if it ever gets an expansion in 2021.
2. Final Fantasy VII Remake
Just like the game itself, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s soundtrack isn’t just a modern take on a classic but so much more. For Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix got a ton of great composers and arrangers like Yasunori Nishiki (Octopath Traveler), Masashi Hamauzu (Final Fantasy XIII), Nobuo Uematsu, and more to bring their own flavour to these classic tracks and the new songs composed for Final Fantasy VII Remake. With multiple takes on the memorable tunes from the original game and new music, Final Fantasy VII Remake’s soundtrack is a masterpiece and it is easily one of the best soundtracks of the generation. We can’t wait to see what follows in the next part.
1. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Vanillaware games always have great art and music but 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is by far the best game from the studio in every way. It has some of the best visuals in an adventure game ever and a soundtrack complementing it in every way. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim’s score by Basiscape (formed by Final Fantasy XII composer Hitoshi Sakimoto) blends many genres together and is ripe with memorable tunes, perfectly timed vocal moments, and a lot of music with a futuristic sound. Highlight tracks are Seaside Vacation, DEOXYRIBOSE, and the other battle themes. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim tells one of the best sci-fi stories in gaming and the experience is elevated by Basiscape’s soundtrack. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim from Atlus and Vanillaware is our pick for best soundtrack of 2020.
2021 will no doubt have some amazing music with games like Persona 5 Strikers, Guilty Gear Strive, and more.