Editor’s Note: There are no previous winners listed since this was not a category we voted on in previous years.
This is a brand new category this year, which I actually happened to suggest to replace an accidental double on our early list of categories we’d be voting on. The atmosphere of a game is one of the most important parts. It’s not only good music that gets one into a game; although that is a significant part of the atmosphere, it’s also the sound effects and the overall feel of a game due to its design, that completely pulls someone in. Obviously, we need quality gameplay to keep us sucked in, but the atmosphere is one of those things that initially grabs you when starting a new title. These are our first ever nominees for best atmosphere.
Shin Megami Tensei V
NA Release Date: November 12th, 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Shin Megami Tensei V has an atmosphere that periodically changes depending on the area and type of battles you find yourself in. One minute things can feel chill and relaxed, as you wander aimlessly throughout a destroyed Tokyo (aka Da’at) and then the next, you’ve been ambushed by demons and there’s this awesome battle music along with the sounds of attack skills going. I also can’t forget to mention how the scenery of the destroyed world around you is awesome as well, especially when you look up at the sky. There always seems to be something strange in the sky when you tilt your camera to look up as far as you can. Each area of Da’at is different though, there’s the arid desert you start in and later on, even a peaceful forest where some of your classmates take refuge, full of trees and a calm river.
NA Release Date: September 24th, 2021
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Lost Judgment has a similar atmosphere to that of past Yakuza franchise games, especially Yakuza: Like a Dragon; since it also takes place mainly in Ijincho. One of those similar aspects is the sounds of the city in the background. You don’t clearly hear people in the city around you, but there’s this distinct background noise, in addition to crowds of people visibly walking around, that make it sound like a real city. Another aspect, is having the perfect music to set the mood for everything you do and every bit of the story. Although, Lost Judgment obviously has its own personal soundtrack that isn’t identical to past series entries. There’s fun music for each minigame; personally I love the Paradise VR music, there’s music for when you’re learning more about a case to set a mysterious mood, and there’s more intense music for when things get serious, that makes you want to forget about sidequests until you get past the intense story part you’re at. Last but not least, are all the sound effects that contribute to the atmosphere, Yagami running throughout the city, the sound of your skateboard’s wheels on the street when you decide to speed through town a little bit quicker, and all of the action in combat when its time to teach some punk kids a lesson. All of these aspects of Lost Judgment‘s atmosphere are fantastic, even the initial rain sound effects and accompanying music in the main menu when you start the game, suck you in.
NA Release Date: October 8th, 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
This is the first new Metroid game that has come out in quite a few years, fans waited a long time and were not disappointed. We didn’t nominate Metroid Dread for it’s music and sound effects, one of our contributors has actually stated that it was one of the weaker aspects of the game. However, that doesn’t mean the game didn’t have an awesome atmosphere. What makes this game’s atmosphere worthy of being nominated, is the design and feel of the world outside of anything sound related. Those moments of carefully finding your way through the huge levels while on the run from an E.M.M.I., the nervousness and anticipation of getting caught, that is what lands Metroid Dread on this list of nominees.
And the winner is…
Shin Megami Tensei V!
In the end, Shin Megami Tensei V has stolen the award for best atmosphere. Atlus always seems to come up with the coolest worlds, especially in the Shin Megami Tensei universe. The combination of, the visible design of each area; the world’s post-apocalyptic destruction mixed with little bits of the past, plus the music and sounds as you progress further throughout Da’at, all combine into a wonderful game that didn’t fail to pull in any of us here at oprainfall who played it. The four and a half year wait for Shin Megami Tensei V since it was announced, was well worth it.