On any given day stress can be high and we do our best to seek out things that helps lessen the effects. Sometimes we turn to comfort food, or we find some time to ourselves to stare blankly at the TV. And on other days we play a relaxing video game to help us unwind. But there is something to be said about the calming effects of music. Especially video game music.
Music in video games has greatly evolved from the 8-bit/chiptune sounds we remember from the 80’s and early 90’s, and while that music can wash over us like a perfect wave of nostalgia, the big, beautiful, bold compositions of today’s games are something special. We all have our favorite soundtracks that we listen to when we’re working or studying, so the Geek Girl Authority Video Games team have put together our top picks. Some of these soundtracks are very relaxing, while others, such as “Otherworld” from Final Fantasy X, help us release stress in a more… energetic… way.
Tyler’s Pick – The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
A video game about a monster hunter, set during a violent continent-wide war, might not seem like it would have the most relaxing ambiance. Nevertheless, The Witcher III: Wild Hunt has a big game world that is easy to get lost in. As you ride your horse down mountain trails and past trees, the calming and awe-inspiring soundtrack expertly composed by Marcin Przybyłowiczand Mikołaj Stroiński is always your faithful companion. Largely performed by the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt (the Brandenburg State Orchestra in Germany), with contributions by Polish folk band Percival, the amazing songs feature a wide range of instruments: lute, Renaissance flute, bowed gusle (a sort of long-necked lyre), hurdy-gurdy, and more.
With an extensive song list, The Witcher III’s soundtrack is sure to keep you entertained for as many hours as the actual game itself! If you need some recommendations on where to start, we suggest the “Relaxing Music for Sleep and Study” playlist (aka “Keep Calm Like a Witcher”) by Amemos – Ambience on YouTube. Feel free to enjoy this beautiful music at your own pace. It also is a great accompaniment for reading The Witcher books by Andrezj Sapkowski! Whether you are nostalgic to play the game or a newcomer curious to learn more about this “Geralt” guy everyone is talking about, this soundtrack will convey the wonder of exploring the Continent to all listeners.
Julia’s Pick – Final Fantasy X
When it comes to video game soundtracks, my personal favorite is Final Fantasy X. It brings me back to a time when things were simpler and when I spent an entire summer replaying the game over and over. The soundtrack is a pleasant mix of several different genres including techno, gospel-like music, and your standard Final Fantasy-style tunes. The soundtrack covers four discs totaling 91 songs to enjoy.
Listening to the soundtrack is like replaying the game in my head. Each character piece is toned perfectly and brings them to life. Final Fantasy X features very heavy religious themes. The entire game is Yuna’s pilgrimage to gain the ability to summon power Aeons in order to defeat Sin. Songs like “The Song of Prayer” that plays in-game while in temples and during a sending performed by Yuna are breathtaking.
My favorite song by far comes early in the game and on the soundtrack. “Otherworld” by Nobuo Uematsu is a rock-packed song that just continues to build momentum throughout the entire song. It has been on every single workout mix I have ever made. In-game, this song coincides with the scene in which Tidus begins his final match of Blitzball before being taken by Sin.
The Final Fantasy X soundtrack may be vast, but it is worth a listen. I suggest playing the game fully and listening to the music alongside the story to really understand the depth of each piece, but just listening to it on its own is perfect as well.
Emily’s Pick – Animal Crossing: New Leaf
I find that the music that most relaxes me comes from my favorite games. Specifically, I love the diverse soundtrack from my favorite Nintendo 3DS title, Animal Crossing: New Leaf! Not only is New Leaf an incredibly relaxing game filled with fishing, collecting fossils, and making friends, but the soundtrack perfectly matches the simplistic gameplay. The music ranges from gentle upbeat afternoon songs, to slow sweet rainy melodies. Personally, the evening tunes are my favorite. This soundtrack is perfect for a relaxing afternoon or a productive morning. You can even find remixed playlists online that feature these songs mixed with environmental ambiance, creating the ideal audio getaway! And hey, you can even listen to this soundtrack as you download Animal Crossing: New Horizons on your Nintendo Switch!
Renee’s Pick – Ori and the Blind Forest
When I think about relaxing video game music, my first choice will always be Ori and the Blind Forest. This magical game is a heart-wrenching journey through darkness and light, grief and hope, and the endearing spirit of Ori. While the hand-drawn graphics give this game a unique feel, it is the music, composed by Gareth Coker, that conveys the true emotion of the game. From the lighthearted, Celtic-inspired melodies of “Naru, Embracing the Light” to the desolate, lonely tones of “The Blinded Forest”, this soundtrack leaves you in awe. And though the game has a hero in Ori, and an enemy in Kuro, both “Kuro’s Tale I – Her Rage” and “Kuro’s Tale II – Her Pain” blur the lines of who you should be rooting for. The story tells it, the music enhances it, and you understand and empathize with Kuro throughout the game. Perhaps my favorite track from the game is the faster paced “Light of Nibel.” It has the Ori theme that you hear often in other tracks, but with the haunting vocals from Aeralie Brighton, that piece summarizes everything I love about Ori: it’s hopeful, it’s emotional, and it’s gorgeous.
These video game soundtracks only scratch the surface of what is available now so let us know what video game soundtracks you enjoy in the comments!
This article was originally published 3/24/20
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