10 of the best underrated gaming soundtracks

Tired of the “Final Fantasy has the best OST” cliche?

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What makes a videogame great is the sum of all its parts, and yes, that includes an often underrated one: the soundtrack. When we reminisce about a past gem, a tiny, intrusive tune seizes our ears. Games like Super Mario World, Zelda Ocarina Of Time, or Crash Bandicoot have original and distinctive tracks that bring them to life. Still, with video games releasing left and right nowadays, it’s harder for an OST to cement itself as an all-timer. Here’s a list of 10 of the most underrated video game OSTs.

Related: The 10 most graphically demanding PC games of all time


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Celeste defies the player. Not only through its platforming gameplay but also with the subject matter it tackles. In a game about traversing anxiety, the soundtrack wraps itself nicely around the players’ necks, warming them up as they make their way through the mountain. Celeste’s soundtrack almost feels like a character in the game, escorting you along your lonely journey through Celeste Mountain. It offers a hopeful tone in the early stages with songs like “Reflection.” Later on, as your physical and psychological journey progresses to a darker place, it takes on a deeper, more methodical tone.

Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc

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Far from being a conventional adventure, Dangaronpa is aimed at a particular audience. Those who dare try it will discover a mesmerizing title that will keep them glued to the screen for countless hours. The soundtrack is one of Takada’s marvels. The great composer mixes street-styled tracks with classical instrument-produced tunes. The soundtrack varies its register depending on the moment of the game in which you find yourself, going from techno and even metal melodies to others that are much more ambient.

Hollow Knight

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The abandoned kingdom of Hallownest, an ancient place of noble knights, bugs, and beasts, keeps its mysteries under lock and key. The soundtrack clings to the game based on leitmotifs and textures, and there is always a deep classical tone that oscillates between chamber music and minimalism, reminiscent of the work of composers such as Mahler or Rachmaninov. The beauty of this OST lies in the narrative: it begins with simple three-note songs, escalates to epic and dynamic themes during the encounters, and reaches its climax in the final battle. We sure are in for a treat as soon as Silksong comes out.


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Ōkami and its subsequent reincarnation in Ōkamiden reflect the best Capcom. Most importantly, they bring folklore to the music, one of the most wonderful in the Osaka company’s catalog. Ōkami is a heavenly work for many reasons, but perhaps the most striking is its audiovisual section. Its OST overflows the magic of the East, mixing that sumi-e art and watercolors inherited from Hokusai with music inspired by the Gagaku, one of the courtly forms of traditional Japanese music. The instrumentation comprises standard string and wind instruments from the Asian tradition.


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Austin Wintory did not want to use exotic instruments for this soundtrack to not condition the player’s ear with mistaken identities. In Journey’s sands, there are no dialogues, only an unexplored territory that each person has to make their own. Its progression is delicate and dents the player’s loneliness: we meet someone in the dunes from time to time, but we can’t communicate. It’s incredible how a string accompaniment and an occasional keyboard and bass can be molded to define the unknown.

Life is Strange

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The indie aesthetic takes over your screen to introduce you to a game mode unlike any other. The Life is Strange soundtrack comprises 14 songs, with contributions from Alt-j, Syd Matters, and even Foals in some of the saddest moments of the game. It is undoubtedly a title that knows how to put on the table the problems of the generation of this century with instrumentals full of teen emotionality. There is a reason the LiS community came up with the term LiSPTSD, and the soundtrack definitely plays a part in it.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

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Majora’s Mask has always been the black sheep in the Zelda saga: it’s not set in Hyrule, there’s no Zelda to rescue, and no trace of Ganondorf. However, that’s precisely what makes it so unique. Koji Kondo rendered the darkness surrounding Link’s Journey just as desperate and lonely as it has always been.
It’s divided into four sections defined by lands. While it shares many tracks with Ocarina of Time, the original challenges define its twisted essence. Still, to this day, if we hear a chime, we crawl under the bed.

Octopath Traveler

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Octopath Traveler was released next to God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Monster Hunter World. Despite being under these big titles’ shadows, Octopath Traveler is one of the best soundtracks in the history of video games. Octopath Traveler features a majestically symphonic, extensive, varied, and elaborate soundtrack. Yasunori Nishiki scores unflinchingly exquisite music that offers different styles and reinforces both dramatically and environmentally the stories of each of the eight playable characters. If the OST manages to get you through a whole story arc of an otherwise unlikable character, you know it’s good.

Sayonara Wild Hearts

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Sayonara Wild Hearts entered the Olympus of independent games in 2019. It borrows concepts from classics like Rez, OutRun, or Panzer Dragoon. Still, it takes the mechanics to a new level with its musical narrative. The repertoire is round and masterful from start to finish. It had been a long time since a videogame evoked such powerful sensations, and even less so by placing the music as the main character in such an authentic way. It will take some time before Sayonara Wild Hearts receives proper recognition. On a first playthrough, it impresses and captivates. But the learning curve carves a place in our memory, suggesting that the more we play it and the more those songs sink into us, the more we’ll like it.

Silent Hill

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Silent Hill is about to make a comeback, bringing back all the memories of those indelible musical moments from the dead. Its influence on video games transcends the limits of horror. Akira Yamaoka gifted us with some of the best soundtracks the medium has ever seen. It wouldn’t be bold of us to say Silent Hill would not be what it is without it. Yamaoka’s soundtrack draws influences from industrial music, trip-hop, and dark ambient. It reinforces the helplessness Silent Hill seeks to evoke.