Overall Favourite – 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim Original Soundtrack
A video game about school kids, giant mechs, yakisoba pan, idols, and more needs a varied soundtrack to match its overwhelming world. Luckily, long-time Vanillaware collaborators Hitoshi Sakimoto and Basiscape have created what is easily their best work. I can’t think of another soundtrack like 13 Sentinels‘, blending synths, pianos, guitars, violins, and more in otherworldly ways to convey many emotions and capture every little twist perfectly. It’s bold, brazen, beautiful, and my favourite soundtrack of the year.
The Most Music – Final Fantasy VII Remake
I really can’t praise Masashi Hamauzu, Mitsuto Suzuki, and Yasunori Nishiki’s work (among others) enough on arranging such a beloved OST (that J-E-N-O-V-A theme, phew). So while Final Fantasy VII Remake Original Soundtrack alone is enough to get it here, there’s also the Plus album to fill in the gaps and the two official arrange albums, Orchestral and Acoustic Arrangements. Even if you haven’t played the game, you owe it to yourself to listen to all of these. Final Fantasy VII‘s music is eternal, and it looks like Remake‘s will be too, deservedly.
The Most Me – Paradise Killer Original Soundtrack
Paradise Killer‘s whole aesthetic absolutely screams “my jam:” neon visuals, beautiful characters, stylish murder, and a soundtrack that absolutely embodies the sound of summer. It’s an infectious bop of an album that is hard not to love even if you haven’t played the game; it sounds just as audacious and colourful as the game looks. Creating funky vaporwave with vocals that will make your heart flutter and your feet move, Barry “Epoch” Topping has created the piña colada of music with the soundtrack to this game: sweet, tangy, and kitsch.
The NieR pick – NieR Orchestral Arrangement Album – Addendum
In recent years, there have been plenty of NieR arrangements to choose from, with TPR and Roxanne Genot’s Rebirth & Hope being one of my favourites. But my absolute favourite is this year’s Addendum, which puts all other NieR orchestral albums to shame. Addendum combines various themes, such as all three versions of “Emil” between both games, and reunites Emi Evans and J’Nique Nicole on vocals to recreate the haunting-yet-ethereal sounds from the game. It may be my favourite NieR arrange album ever.
My Newest Love, Summarised in Music Form – The Songs of Supergiant Games: 10th Anniversary Orchestral Collection
I fell in love with Supergiant Games in 2020, and this album distills that love perfectly. Translating Darren Korb’s weird and wacky genre-bending music to orchestra must not have been easy, but for The Songs of Supergiant Games and arranger Brian LaGuardia, it feels effortless. The orchestra brings out another emotional layer from each of the songs, evoking memories from the games, but also highlights just how incredible Korb’s compositions (and, in particular, Ashley Barrett’s vocals) are. It’s the perfect 10-year celebration for a wonderful studio. The vinyl releases in early 2021, but you can pick up the album on Bandcamp right now. It truly is a beautiful album with a gorgeous vinyl, too!
RPGFan Podcasts: A Rhythm Reborn – Rhythm Encounter
It finally happened. A special thank you to Editor-in-Chief Mike Salbato for reviving this so we can celebrate RPG music even more and giving me yet another platform to blabber on endlessly about all things I love. I’m sorry to the guests and the listeners, but I adore this show, and love being a part of it.