Best Game Soundtracks November 2017
Greetings, readers! The end of the year approaches, and it’s almost time for us to look back in reflection on the bounty of games that 2017 has afforded us -- but before we do that, I have for you one more roundup of the best gaming soundtracks released this month. This year’s avalanche of new offerings has finally started to abate, but there were still plenty of excellent albums released in November.
If you can believe it, this month Austin Wintory has released yet another game soundtrack -- his fourth this year, which might make 2017 his most prolific yet. This time, he has scored the VR game Luna, the latest from indie developer Funomena (whose WATTAM many of us have been anticipating for some time). Luna is a lovely-looking game that involves interacting with virtual terrariums in order to solve puzzles -- and also it is about birds, which is always a plus in my book. The way Luna ties its music to the evolution of its environments puts me in mind of the Samorost games, which should be taken as a high compliment. Wintory’s score is ethereal and meditative; I would recommend listening to it as you sip a mug of your best tea while gazing out the window at softly falling snow.
Although the expansion itself was released way back in September, it wasn’t until early this month that Dishonored: Death of the Outsider got an official soundtrack release. Daniel Licht, who composed for the Dishonored games (as well as some of the latter-day Silent Hill titles) passed away just before Death of the Outsider was released, so this posthumous release is effectively his final album. It’s full of short, tense, potent tracks, and it’s definitely worth a listen.
The beginning of the month saw the release of Call of Duty: WWII, the long-running shooter series’ anticipated return to its original setting. CoD:WWII allows a new generation of gamers to storm the beaches at Normandy and battle for the hedgerows of northern France, just like their forebears did back in, uh, 2003. The game’s score is by composer Wilbert Roget II, who was responsible for some of SWTOR’s music, as well as Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Expect plenty of horns and heroic orchestral swells.
Another game released at the beginning of the month was Hand of Fate 2. Both Hand of Fate games construct an interesting blend of game types -- part board game, part card game, part brawler -- a cocktail of systems not quite like anything else on offer. It sounds like this sequel mixed an even smoother pour than its predecessor, so if the concept sounds even remotely up your alley it might be worth checking out. The score, by Total War series veteran composer Jeff van Dyck, is some really good dungeon-delving music, perhaps worth adding to your collection if you’re the sort of tabletop gamer who likes to have mood-setting tunes on hand for nightly gatherings.
Sometimes a soundtrack comes across my radar and it is inaccessible, not widely available, or otherwise difficult to acquire. Often I decide not to bring these soundtracks to your attention. This is not the case with Ace of Seafood. I’d like to make clear that I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here: You can play as several varieties of fish and crustacean? These animals appear to have electronic heads-up displays? Some of them are unusually large? I have embedded a trailer instead of a pure soundtracksample because what is going on here, but I also encourage you to click through to this track, which is a real banger. You won’t find this one on Spotify, but maybe you’ll be enticed to import a CD version from Japan which is an actual thing you can do.
Evidently I need to be paying more attention to the scores to racing games. First, Project CARS 2 had a listenable soundtrack album, and now here comes Need for Speed Payback to remind me that driving games aren’t just about the licensed tracklists (although they are also about that). The game’s original score, by Joe Trapanese (who also scored The Crew), makes for a relatively short album (just eleven tracks), but it has such a good heist movie vibe that it’s worth listening to even without playing the game. Put this one on for your morning commute! Just don’t be surprised when you arrive to work way, way early.
I really enjoyed Joris de Man’s score for Horizon Zero Dawn, so I was pleased to see that its DLC, The Frozen Wilds, would also be getting an official soundtrack release. I still haven’t dug deep enough into the pile of games 2017 dumped on us to get to Horizon myself, but de Man’s score does a wonderful job helping to build a world for protagonist Aloy to adventure in (she does have adventures, yes? I’m making some assumptions here).
One game I have found time for is the delightful Splatoon 2, which released this summer but which is only getting an official soundtrack release now (and even then, only in Japan -- and even then, only as a 2 CD set). Nevertheless, the original Splatoon had a sound like nothing else in games, a fresh sonic identity all its own, and if you wanted some more of that funky musical flavor, you have no doubt been waiting for “Splatune 2” to drop with bated breath (or should that be “baited?” It was meant to be a fishing joke. Because they’re squids). The Nintendo Faithful among you can import yourself some physical media with the link below.
Buy: CDJapan (CD)
There were a couple of games released this month for which we’re still awaiting soundtracks -- no word on an official release of Gordy Haab’s score for Battlefront II, for instance, and word on the street is we’ll have to wait until next month to get a soundtrack for Sonic Forces. Still no word on whether Nintendo means to give us a way to buy the music from Super Mario Odyssey (besides that catchy vocal theme), and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Mick Gordon’s shredding soundtrack to Wolfenstein II. I’ll let you know when these situations change!
Next month I’ll be back to recap the year and pass judgement on the best soundtracks of 2017! If you’re anxious I’ll miss your favorite album of the year, drop me a line on Twitter and make sure I don’t forget your jams of choice! Until then: Happy listening!