For me, one soundtrack stood above the rest this year. This write-up won’t surprise anyone who reads the overall list first, but I do have a little bit more to say about my favorite video game music from 2022.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 OST
I don’t think I can identify a single song that feels off or out of place throughout the entire 140-hour runtime of the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 soundtrack (two post-game tracks aside, but for good reason). Even looking past the top-shelf names behind the arrangements and Yasunori Mitsuda’s infamous perfectionist streak, this feels like the first game in the series where its composers committed to crafting a unified sound. That ethos manifests in the decision to build custom flutes and, crucially, in how it leans heavily on character themes and leitmotifs.
One day, I’ll have the words and ideas to do this soundtrack justice. For now, all I can say is that the music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 never ceases to blow me away. Magnum opus? I daresay that term should be in consideration for everything accomplished here.
AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative OST
Adventure games live or die by the strength of their narrative, but, to my mind, they’re fatally flawed if their soundtracks aren’t up to snuff. AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative, as uneven as its plot and characters are, is a game with excellent music. It’s blissfully energetic, hauntingly somber, and downright frightening when it needs to be. The music is expertly crafted all the way through, and it will carry many a dissatisfied player through some less-than-stellar sections.