15. 'Cave Story+'
Much like Owlboy, Cave Story is a love letter to previous eras of gaming in that it too is a 2D platformer with pixel art graphics and a chiptune soundtrack. Cave Story was released more than a decade earlier, though, and has seen numerous ports and remasters in the years since. Cave Story+ debuted in 2011 with an alternative script, additional game modes, and a remastered soundtrack that let its music really shine.
14. 'Shovel Knight'
Shovel Knight continues our trend of honoring games that play on many gamers' nostalgia for the 8-bit era. The game isn't any more faithful to those consoles than Owlboy or Cave Story, but it does play off nostalgia better in large part because it seems more like an NES game. It turns out the soundtrack is actually somewhat accurate--it's based off Konami's VRC6 sound chip, which was used in some Japan-only Famicom titles.
13. 'The Banner Saga 2'
The same person who composed the soundtrack for Abzu, Austin Wintory, composed The Banner Saga 2 (opens in new tab)'s soundtrack. The games couldn't be more different: Abzu is a "visual experience" that revolves around exploring the ocean, while The Banner Saga 2 is a Norse-inspired tactical RPG in which you guide a caravan of people through countless perils. Wintory's soundtracks adapt to their respective titles well--The Banner Saga 2's score is reminiscent of Vikings and drives home the fact that your character has to find a way to save more and more people from impending doom.
Atmosphere is the name of the game for Bloodborne. (Well, technically Bloodborne is the name... oh, never mind.) From Software's PlayStation 4-exclusive followup to the Dark Souls series wears its Lovecraftian inspiration on its sleeve. The environments are dark, enemies are abominations, and the haunting soundtrack always manages to swell in energy right when the game is at its most terrifying. The result? Terror.
11. 'Hitman Absolution'
How do you score assassinations? Anything too upbeat would ruin your immersion, but hitting the same minor chords over and over again would quickly get boring. Luckily, it seems that Eidos Interactive has figured out that problem, because Hitman Absolution's (opens in new tab) soundtrack made it on this list. The music is often quiet, so as not to distract you from your attempts at murder, yet it's enough to keep you engaged with the game.
10. 'System Shock 2'
Finally a game that could actually be considered "retro" instead of one inspired by those classic games. System Shock 2's (opens in new tab) soundtrack blends moments of light (synthesized) orchestration with heavy electronic influences to reinforce the game's focus on man versus machine. You have the ethereal nature of space, the foreboding inherent to exploring a dangerous space ship, and then moments of cacophony as things start to get real.
Tropico (opens in new tab)is proving to be popular with the Tom's Hardware Community. Not only did you all say the game is one of the best simulation games around, but you also said it has one of the best soundtracks. It's not hard to hear why--the game fully embraces its Caribbean influence in the music department. Tropical drums, bright string instruments, and relaxed singing really make you feel like the ruler of your own island.
There seems to be an unwritten rule that games taking place in space must fully commit to electronic music. We aren't complaining, though, and the votes for the Stellaris (opens in new tab)strategy game show that you aren't either. As much as we hate to use the word, "epic" is probably the best way to describe Stellaris' soundtrack. Fitting, given the fact that the game's grand scale has you exploring space and waging war on other spacefaring civilizations.
7. 'Chrono Trigger'
This is also Chrono Trigger's (opens in new tab) second appearance on a recent "best of" list decided by the Tom's Hardware community. It previously got recognized for being one of the greatest RPGs ever made; now it's all about the game's soundtrack. Nostalgia isn't the only reason why you remember Chrono Trigger fondly; the game's soundtrack quickly establishes the mood so you can properly respond to the intricate storyline. (And pitched combat.)
6. 'Need For Speed 3: Hot Pursuit'
Electronic Arts, like Rockstar Games, knows that people like to listen to music while they drive their virtual cars. That's why the company packed Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit (opens in new tab) full of fast-paced tracks inspired by EDM, rock, and metal. Nobody wants to put the pedal to the metal while listening to something slow. If you're going to go fast, your music better go fast too, and Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit's tracks do just that.