Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2023: Best Music

GOTY 2023 Best Music Final Fantasy XVI

Winner: Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI‘s music is more than a mere soundtrack with songs and tones to suit the situation. It’s deliberate. It’s full of leitmotifs and metaphors. It’s expertly timed and dynamic instead of just beautiful in a vacuum (for which FFXVI‘s music also qualifies). FFXVI‘s elaborate boss fights almost always occur in multiple stages, and songs like “Titan Lost” and “Ascension” undergo multiple variations and arrangements as the battle progresses. As bosses transform or move to a new theater of battle, the music swells and falls to match the action. 

Also, Final Fantasy XVI‘s soundtrack is 199 songs over eight discs. That’s not a typo. Masayoshi Soken and his collaborators didn’t make just a handful of bespoke songs for key cutscenes and boss fights; it’s both powerful and thorough. Playing Final Fantasy XVI and experiencing music matching its melodrama is the best video game audio experience of 2023. 

by Michael Sollosi

Runner-Up: Octopath Traveler II

I bought Octopath Traveler II because of its soundtrack. I was interested in the game for other reasons, of course, but listening to the music convinced me I had to play it. Yasunori Nishiki surprised us all with his excellent soundtrack for the first game, but he somehow managed to outdo himself here. Each character’s theme is thoughtful and referenced throughout their chapters, the addition of a day/night cycle brings lovely evening piano arrangements, and then there are the battle themes. In a word, they are sublime. On top of everything else Octopath Traveler II has to offer, the music is an especially memorable treat that sticks with you long after you’ve put the game down.

by Caitlin Argyros

Readers’ Choice: Best Music of 2023

Winner: Final Fantasy XVI (30.3% of votes)

Runner-Up: Octopath Traveler II (24.1% of votes)

Michael Sollosi

Michael Sollosi

Sollosi joined RPGFan in 2014 as part of the music section but switched lanes to podcasting a year later, eventually becoming showrunner of the Retro Encounter podcast. Outside of RPGFan, Sollosi works in a government engineering office, enjoys visiting local parks and petting local dogs, and dreams of a second Ys vs Trails fighting game.