Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The 2020 Gamer Crash Awards! This is the annual event where we celebrate the latest and the greatest over the past year.
Now, a couple of things to note before we get into today’s nominees. I am a singular person with a limited budget and time. IGN this is not. As such, I realistically can’t get around to everything so you will absolutely find that not every game you’d expect to be listed here. Some games I just haven’t played or gotten around to yet so I can’t rightfully give them an award. It wouldn’t make sense and would be a little fraudulent on my part.
So the first award category for this year is easily one of my favorites. As I mention every year, a game’s soundtrack can have a huge impact on the player’s experience. A good soundtrack can even enhance the gameplay further, really tying everything together. As such, there’s been no shortage of ear pleasing tunes in 2020.
So, let’s get to it. Here are the nominees:
DOOM: Eternal – Mick Gordon
When a DOOM game releases, you know it’s going to be on this end of year list. Granted, with Mick Gordon and id Software having a bit of a falling out, this is likely the last time you’ll be seeing the two linked.
If it is the last Mick Gordon led DOOM soundtrack then the man went out with a bang. It retains a lot of what fans remember from his work on the previous game with those heavy riffs that fit oh so well with the fast paced demon slaying on the screen.
Ghost of Tsushima – Ilan Eshkeri and Shigeru Umebayashi
Unlike DOOM Eternal, Ghost of Tsushima takes a more subtle approach to better blend in with the background and epic scale of Tsushima Island. What makes it memorable is just how cinematic the score is. The music is able to dynamically change and shift to match the actions on screen whether the player is in a tense battle or simply riding through an expansive field across the island.
The other standout feature is how well it manages to encapsulate the feeling of being a Samurai and being in the shoes of Jin Sakai. The range of music manages to convey that emotion and weight being the last Samurai while also trying to do what’s necessary to save the people from the Mongols.
Hades – Darren Korb
Once again, Darren Korb delivers. It’s pretty much a given that when Supergiant releases a game, it’ll be nominated in this category. Hades is absolutely no exception.
Again, the music perfectly encapsulates everything happening on screen, increasing in intensity for those high combat moments to dropping back down when a room is cleared. Each realm in Hades has a specific sound to it and there’s even a few tracks performed by Korb and longtime collaborate Ashley Barrett. There’s at least a few tracks that will get stuck in your head and never leave.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps – Gareth Coker
The only thing that can really be said about the Ori soundtrack is that it’s haunting, beautiful, and dramatic. It intertwines itself with the visuals and gameplay so well that it truly does enhance the game.
The soundtrack manages to capture the essence of what made the first one so good and then ratchet things up from there. Filled to the brim with orchestral goodness, you can really feel the emotion with each track.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – Various Artists
This may be a bit of a copout, especially for those of you who didn’t grow up with the franchise but man, this soundtrack really hit me right in the nostalgia. Growing up with the classic Tony Hawk games, you developed a fondness for the gameplay as well as the music being played. Over the years, the tracks stuck with you and hearing them anywhere else would instantly recall the grinds, spins, and flips on a virtual skateboard.
Kudos for Activision for bringing back pretty much the exact playlist from the original games while adding a couple of new tracks on top of that. Lagwagon, Millencolin, Rage Against the Machine…they’re pretty much all here as you remember and make this latest game a true time capsule for anyone that players the originals back in the day.
Persona 5 Royal – Shoji Meguro
Okay, technically this is a soundtrack to a game that is an expanded version of the original which was released in 2019. I don’t care, the soundtrack is straight fire. Persona 5 Royal launched this year so to me, that qualifies.
This thing is so much fun to listen to, featuring some truly funky, catchy, and memorable tracks. It fits the unmatched style of the game perfectly and I guarantee when you listen to it, you won’t be able to tap your toes or bob your head. It’s a body mover, that’s for sure.
Streets of Rage 4 – Olivier Deriviere, Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima, Yoko Shimomura, Keiji Yamagishi, Harumi Fujita, Das Mörtal, and Groundislava.
That’s a big list! When you’re talking about Streets of Rage, one of the defining aspects I immediately think of is the soundtrack. Yuzo Koshiro’s work on the old Sega Genesis games still sticks with me to this day and I’m happy to report that this latest game continues that tradition with a slew of artists including Olivier Deriviere who leads the way on most tracks.
As expected, Streets of Rage 4 continues the EDM focused sound, though it also leaves room to push things forward a bit as well. The energy and tempo shift with the action on the screen bringing the energy that the series is well known for. Plus, it features new music from Koshiro himself, which is again, quite excellent.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – Jukio Kallio and Daniel Hagström
A surprise pick for me this year is Fall Guys, a game which burst onto the scene thanks to its cute little bean people and gameplay that is clearly inspired by the wacky gameshow Takeshi’s Castle.
To help enhance the quirky game, the music is also incredibly fun to listen to and incredibly catchy. Even with rounds being fairly short, the music never manages to outstate its welcome or become mindnumbingly simple. The music is colorful, fun, and rather inviting, really lending itself to pushing players into ‘one more round’ before turning it off.
And my favorite 2020 game soundtrack is….
This was a massively difficult choice as each of the games above could easily have been here. At the end of the day, I’m still listening to the music from this game and it’s still resonating with me. Gems like In The Blood, The Painful Way, Lament of Orpheus, and God of the Dead are just so, so good.