If there’s one thing you can always look forward to at the end of the year, it’s lists. As certain as death and taxes, countdown lists are perhaps one of the funniest inevitables out there. The only offer this time around is a glimpse into some of the best PlayStation music we’ve heard in 2021. While it’s impossible to touch every soundtrack worthy of recognition, we’ve rounded up what we think are the best from an already bright bunch. Let’s immerse ourselves with a variety of sounds and compositional voices.
As one of the first true next-gen experiences for the PS5, the latest Ratchet & Clank title is striking out of the park across the board. The game combines the expected brilliant gameplay the series is known for, some truly stunning graphics, and – easy to miss – a phenomenal soundtrack. Mark Mothersbaugh, perhaps best known as the co-founder of Devo, brings his robust composing skills to the Ratchet & Clank franchise, having previously worked on other iconic PlayStation franchises like Crash bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. The result is a bombastic score that drags everywhere – much like the characters in the game – while maintaining the synth elements you’d expect from a Mothersbaugh score.
As a visually creative puzzle game, The Pedestrian has a deviously good soundtrack. The creative signage, which gives way to many clever puzzles, is supported by a surprisingly playful jazz soundtrack. The score, composed by Logan Hayes, captures all of the rapidly evolving and multifaceted emotions one might expect in the urban backdrop of the title. While much of the music is energetic and busy, the music leaves plenty of room to breathe. Quieter ambient pieces scatter the soundtrack and make for a really nice change, right when you need it most.
The crazy, colorful world of Velan Studios ‘dodgeball title needed an equally lively soundtrack, and that’s exactly what it got from The Soundlings’ soundtrack. The duo created different bands in the universe, each with a unique identity for different parts of the title. This diversity gives the music great versatility and enables it to stand out in the field of sports game music. Where else can you jump back and forth between electro-doo-wop and surf-rock with a snap of your fingers? The listener is presented with a wide range of sounds that are confusing, contagious, and fit together.
The realization of it Skyrim Mod transformed full experience is really a miracle to see. The Forgotten City is a fascinating world full of philosophy and danger and also has a paper-thin soundtrack. Exploring the ancient Roman ruins touched by the “Golden Rule” is an interesting experience in itself, but adding the incredible Michael Allen soundtrack makes it even better. In equal parts mysterious and hauntingly beautiful, this soundtrack will stay in your memory long after you leave this lost city one last time.
It should come as no surprise to see a Persona title on the list. One of the defining characteristics of the franchise has long been music, and this spin-off title adds to that legacy. While it is deep disappointing Persona 5 Strikers isn’t a soccer game that Dynasty warrior Crossover has it all. And look no further than the incredible scores of Atsushi Kitajoh, Gota Masuoka, and Ayana Hira. The game does a lot of work for Shoji Meguro’s Persona 5 and re-imagining it for a different experience. The title plays around with some melodies from the original game, of course, but it also extrapolates the general sound of Persona 5 and takes it the next step.
Röki is a brilliant point-and-click adventure title and features beautiful settings. These environments, while impressive in and of themselves, are definitely heightened by the soundtrack. Some of the best moments to experience in the title are stumbling around over hearing the incredible score by Aether and immersing yourself in the scenery. While the music is a great accompaniment to the experience in all situations, regardless of the tone, the ambient pieces are particularly great and worth the price of admission alone. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the beauty of the game and enjoy the view that before you know it, you’ve been idle for 10 minutes just listening to the world.
What would such a list be if we didn’t talk about the latest from Supergiant Games? Unsurprisingly, Darren Korb knocked out a soundtrack. This is by far the toughest from Korb so far, sometimes digressing with melting guitar work and all into full metal. It goes exceptionally well with the title’s hectic, satisfying gameplay. There is also plenty of room for quieter music in the game, as much of the game is spent talking, surrounded by the luxury of the world of the dead. Plus, of course, there are the vocal tracks where Korb works with Ashley Barrett, an integral part of a Supergiant soundtrack. These represent some of the most memorable moments in the score, but also highlight important moments in the story and further underscore their importance.
Deathloop is a game full of style. A fun retro vibe is interwoven with chunky time travel massacres, all wrapped up in the incredible gameplay that Arkane is known for. But one of the things that best sells the credibility of the world Colt Vahn is in is of course the music. The soundtrack composed by Tom Salta, Ross Tregenza and Erich Talaba is … There is no better way to describe it than “cool”. The soundtrack picks up many references to exploitation films from the ’60s /’ 70s and just has that infectious boast that makes the most mundane encounters in the game addicting. While the game brings a retro sound aesthetic to the title, it still takes time to play around with other sandboxes, such as giving identifiable themes to each of the eight “goals” in the game. Besides, there is only so much Music – the official soundtrack is two and a half hours long – and you’ll likely recognize most of it as you play. To have so much music easily identifiable in a single experience is an amazing achievement.
While Alan Wake may have been out for over a decade, it didn’t appear on a PlayStation console until 2021. After all this time, the soundtrack absolutely remains one of its greatest assets. Alan Wake’s music works on several fronts. First up, we have an incredible score by Petri Alenko that spectacularly captures both sides of the city of Bright Falls: the bright, happy little Washington town and the ominous, winding apartment steeped in darkness. But Remedy is also a master of licensed music, effectively integrating Roy Orbison, David Bowie, and Poets of the Fall into the game. And if that wasn’t enough, Poets of the Fall also wrote several original tracks for the game, disguising themselves as Old Gods of Asgard, a band most PlayStation players likely know from the Ashtray Maze sequence in control.
There are endless reasons to rave about the incredible experience of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut. The breathtaking art direction, the best writing style, the mechanical depth. However, one area that deserves this extra attention is music. It is not easy to write a score for a game with such narrative complexity. The music has to fit a variety of moods, a variety of choices. But British Sea Power’s score – now just Sea Power – is able to skilfully navigate the story of your amnesiac detective with a really great, almost neo-noir score that is the perfect accompaniment for your forays around town . The score packs as much mystery and intrigue into the game as the writing. And, like writing, it’s not too playful when the situation calls for it. A real wonder to look at.
As mentioned earlier, it’s nearly impossible to get every single score it deserves. Some honorable mentions need to go out Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Resident Evil Village, It takes two, Nier replicant ver.1.22474487139…, A short hike – The list goes on and on. Narrowing the list down to just 10 is a painful task that is sure to leave out many people’s favorites. Be sure to let us know yours in the comments below.