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Neal Chandran's Music of the Year

Although I am disappointed that I could not participate in the 2015 Game of the Year proceedings, I'm really happy that I can participate in Music Of The Year. I may not have played or reviewed any GOTY-worthy games, but I did listen to some MOTY-worthy music and here are my favorite soundtracks of 2015.

If My Heart Had Wings OST
Composed by Twofive, Kenichi Okuma

Back in 2013, I played If My Heart Had Wings and begged for an OST release because I thoroughly enjoyed the music. Cut to 2015, and my wish came true. This lovely soundtrack not only captures the uplifting beauty of the game's soaring moments, but it also dramatically captures the wistful melancholy that makes the "reach out and touch the sky" moments more uplifting. It's easy to expect light and breezy music with a game of this nature, but the soundtrack was anything but and had tangible gravitas and intensity. With a variety of styles from synth-pop to Celtic, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this soundtrack several times over, especially while looking out into clear skies.

Also See Our Review: If My Heart Had Wings OST Review

Have you heard...


You don't need the same blood type to enjoy this exciting soundtrack.

Re:Birth II -Ren- / SaGa Battle Arrange
Composed by Kenji Ito, Nobuo Uematsu; Arranged by: Kenji Ito, Noriyuki Kamikura

SaGa games are often multilayered and complex adventures that require patience and perseverance to really grow on you. I felt that way when I played SaGa Frontier and when I listened to this soundtrack. After my first listen, I could not discern any immediately identifiable hooks or "money riffs" that stayed stuck in my head. However, I was intrigued enough to listen to the soundtrack again...and again...and again. Each subsequent listen revealed something new to me, and I often found multiple hooks and "money riffs" within a single song. I view the SaGa series as more complex, quirkier, less bombastic, and more free-form/stream-of-consciousness than Final Fantasy, and this excellent soundtrack exudes that sentiment perfectly.

Also See Our Review: Re:Birth II -Ren- / SaGa Battle Arrange Review

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth
Composed by Masafumi Takada

Digimon-based RPGs and their respective soundtracks have generally been mediocre and failed to leave any sort of impression. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth aims to obliterate its checkered past in the form of a promising game (by Wild ARMs developer Media Vision) and a robust soundtrack by Masafumi Takada (of Danganronpa fame.) The music features layers of complexity along with several catchy hooks. Hauntingly atmospheric pieces share space with jaunty pop tunes. And through it all is a cavalcade of interesting beats, played by a variety of percussive instruments that can stand surprisingly well on their own. I felt like I was on an epic journey over the 60 tracks included in the OST. The first third gave off a "future is bright" vibe, the second third was often dark and sinister, and the final third was like the light at the end of the tunnel — hopeful, but still with gravitas. Thanks to its enthralling music that stands up without any "nostalgic" context, I look forward to the English release of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth so I can hear how the music integrates with the graphics, story, and gameplay.

Also See Our Review: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth OST Review

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