2019 oprainfall Awards: Best Music

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

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Previous Winners
2016: Final Fantasy XV
2017: Persona 5
2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Music is one of the most important aspects of a video game. It can help set the mood, evoke an emotion, or tip a scene from only “good” to “great.” Music can get our blood pumping for a big battle, make us cautious during a stealth sequence, or bawl like babies in both happiness or sorrow. When I think of my favorite video games, I inevitably think of the music that was part of them.

With all the great games that came out in 2019, there would of course be great music. And while the choices were many, in the end, we at oprainfall narrowed the best scores down to three: Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Pokémon Sword/ Shield, and Code Vein.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Best Music | Fire Emblem: Three Houses
NA Release Date: July 26th, 2019
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Fire Emblem is one of the JRPG genre’s standard-bearers, and as such it has a big legacy to live up to. That’s true in the music department as well, and Three Houses does not disappoint at all. A JRPG needs music for every kind of situation, and Three Houses ticks all the right boxes. The game runs the gamut from sweeping vocals, intense string pieces, and evocative brass. For a war story, the game features plenty of heart-pumping battle themes as well, with mellow themes for those quieter moments. Without its music, Three Houses would still be a good game, but its stellar soundtrack makes it great.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

Best Music | Pokémon Sword & Shield
NA Release Date: November 15th, 2019
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Pokémon games have always excelled at light-hearted, catchy tunes, and Sword and Shield continue that tradition. You know you’re in for a treat when the theme song starts, mixing guitar and electronica in a way that feels unique. The battle themes leave you bobbing your head along to them (which is great, because you’re going to be hearing them a lot), and the zone themes each have a ton of character. The Wild Area especially feels sweeping and grand, with undertones of danger in the strings and low piano notes. The music in Sword and Shield is what I can only describe as comfy — it just feels right for every scenario.

Code Vein

Best Music | Code Vein
NA Release Date: September 27th, 2019
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Code Vein‘s music is as badass as the game itself. Featuring pumping, industrial songs from VAMPS with lyrics so on the nose they’re amazing, the music fits neatly into the vampiric apocalyptic setting the game presents. The more orchestral tracks that play as background music are equally impressive, mixing choirs, organs and strings to evoke a very gothic feel. It’s the perfect soundtrack to accent the game’s dark visuals and themes, and are just the right kind of earworms that you’ll find yourself jamming to them long after you turn off the game.

And the winner is…

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

The contest was fierce, but Fire Emblem: Three Houses was oprainfall’s pick for Best Music of 2019. Of all the games the staff played this year, Three Houses left the biggest impact on our experiences. Not only does the music compliment every scene in which it plays, it’s also great to listen to on its own. There’s a song for every occasion and mood and it’s impossibly easy to lose yourself listening to each track. The variety and breadth make it a standout soundtrack that matches the scope of its game, and it’s why it took the crown.

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.