Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2021: Best Music or Sound Design

GOTY 2021 Music Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker

Winner: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Masayoshi Soken’s music in Final Fantasy XIV is so iconic that it’s practically a character itself, and this is perhaps no truer than in Endwalker. From “Footfalls,” with its callbacks to leitmotifs from previous expansions, to the theme of Sharlayan and its beautiful vocal variant “Flow,” Endwalker introduces powerful new musical material that Soken plays with in multiple variations throughout the expansion. The boss themes are epic, particularly the mid-boss and final trial themes, and they completely suit Endwalker’s narrative finale. Last but not least, the final zone theme, “Close in the Distance,” is quite possibly the most impactful piece Soken has ever created. Whether as an accompaniment to endgame events or simply as a representation of our journey from A Realm Reborn to Endwalker, the melody and lyrics can bring you to tears. Such is the strength and potential of music, and it is a facet that Soken has once again wielded to make Endwalker an unforgettable musical experience.

by Caitlin Argyros

Runner-Up: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

There’s always concern when rearranging a soundtrack as beloved as NieR‘s, but under the guidance of Keiichi Okabe, the team at MONACA did the impossible with NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…‘s soundtrack and matched the original’s quality. Okabe’s intention with the updated soundtrack was to make subtle changes while also extending tracks, like “Song of the Ancients / Devola” and “Kainé / Salvation.” These are the same tracks you knew and loved, with beautiful adornments. But with the new content also comes new music, like the two stunningly beautiful “Fleeting Words” tracks that appear throughout the Mermaid storyline. It’ll never replace the original music, but Replicant‘s new sound stands shoulder-to-shoulder with it. That alone is a feat in itself.

by Alana Hagues

Readers’ Choice: Best Music or Sound Design

Winner: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker

Runner-Up: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

This was another close call: FFXIV: Endwalker and NieR Replicant were a single vote apart, so the Readers’ Choice here could have gone either way. But when given the choice between Okabe and Soken and their sound teams, there’s no way to lose.

Caitlin Argyros

Caitlin Argyros

Caitlin joined RPGFan as a podcaster but has since expanded her collection of hats to include reviews, features, and proofreading. When she's not writing for the site, she's saving the people of Eorzea in FFXIV, slaying gods in the Xeno series, and globetrotting across Zemuria in the Trails games. Oh, and petting every sweet cat and good dog she comes across.