2021 oprainfall Awards: Best Music

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

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By


oprainfall Trophy

BEST MUSIC

Previous Winners
2016: Final Fantasy XV
2017: Persona 5
2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
2019: Fire Emblem: Three Houses

One of the most impactful aspects of video games for me are the soundtracks. We spend so much time listening to the games we play that music becomes an integral part of not only the storytelling, but the world, mood, and even characters. A good soundtrack can elevate a mediocre game to okay, or lift great games into the stratosphere, and 2021 was rife with titles that could claim god-tier music. It was hard to narrow them down, but somehow we at oprainfall managed to limit our choices to the top three titles. Who will come out victorious?


Lost Judgment

NA Release Date: Sep. 21, 2021
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Review

When it comes to Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio games, good music is never in question. And much like it predecessor Judgment and sister series Yakuza, Lost Judgment brings the tunes. Not only does this game have a wide array of styles, including jazz, industrial, rock, choir, and even pop, it also boasts my absolute favorite battle theme throughout the entire RGG Studio portfolio. Music even plays an integral role in the School Stories as part of Seiryo High’s Dance Club. Lost Judgment is the type of game I think of when I think “good soundtrack,” but is it enough to deliver it the crown?


NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

NieR Replicant | CG Art

NA Release Date: Apr. 23, 2021
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One

If you’ve played NieR: Automata, then NieR Replicant’s music should be no stranger to you. This soundtrack is one of the most haunting, moody collections I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to, with songs that evoke such an intense range of emotions they’re sometimes difficult to describe, but always beautiful. With ver.1.22474487139… these tracks get a gorgeous upgrade, with fully remastered music to compliment the visuals of this beloved cult-classic. NieR’s music is always a step above, regardless of title, but with the OG soundtrack gracing consoles in 2021, will it be enough to take top prize in our awards?


Yakuza: Like a Dragon

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

NA Release Date: Mar 2, 2021 (PlayStation 5)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Review

As noted above for Lost Judgment, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio do not play around when it comes to music, and Like a Dragon has one of the best soundtracks out of the entire Yakuza series. With the change to turn-based RPG, Like a Dragon can flex a wider range of musical styles to fit its larger cast and broader scope, as well as hit all those sweet, sweet JRPG tropes. The industrial sound of its battle music contrasts brilliantly with its more emotional, slow tracks, and the karaoke is absolutely on-point here, too. Toss in some series staples, along with a few borrowed sounds from other famous JRPGs, and it’s a fantastic auditory package. But is it enough to win?


And this year’s crowning soundtrack goes to…

NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…!

Despite my love for RGG music, this was honestly no contest. NieR‘s music is rich and evocative and memorable in ways that make it truly stand out in a crowd, with songs that linger in your memory long after you’ve finished playing the game. There are few game soundtracks that can boast the style and sound that NieR¬†brings, and for that it rightfully takes our Best Music Award for 2021.

About Leah McDonald

Leah's been playing video games since her brother first bought an Atari back in the 1980s and has no plans to stop playing anytime soon. She enjoys almost every genre of game, with some of her favourites being Final Fantasy Tactics, Shadow of the Colossus, Suikoden II and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Leah lives on the East Coast with her husband and son.