The game community has long been known for its off-the-beat and incredibly thoughtful approach to game design - but not much is often said about the innovative sound design and music that is used in these titles. In this short blog, we turn you on to 5 of our favorite game composers visible in 2020, so far.
Best known as the composer and audio producer for Thatgamecompany, Diamante has consistently delivered some of the most immersive and sonically rich soundtracks of his generation and then some. Among the most provocative of his works are Flower, Sky: Children of the Light and now Skullgirls in 2020. The soundtrack and audio production of Sky: COTL is especially fascinating as in the game, alongside soaring through clouds and mountainous valleys, players can engage in multiplayer music-making IN the game. Of course, Diamante’s score fits naturally into this sandbox-music model, and it truly blurs the line between OST and sound design. A Marvelous composer that you should follow!
Known for their evocative take of bravery, longing and the desire for adventure Triodust’s work on Opus Rocket of Whispers is well-known and highly regarded. But in 2020 the year of uncertainty, what are they up to? Not surprisingly they put out an awesome album in February! If you’re into Taiwanese music and films you may have heard Triodust’s scores on many of your favorite indie films as well. An up-an-coming artist to listen for.
First known to me as a guest artist on the Kojima Productions Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain OST, Swedish composer and producer Ludvig Forssell is a creative force to be reckoned with. In the soundtrack to Death Stranding (released on PS4 in 10/2019 and on PC 07/2020) Foressell uses a host of modified instruments: sledge hammers on piano, chains, modified guitars, styrofoam and cardboard, and rakes on the underside of a piano to create a dark, gritty, otherworldly score with no rivals. The addition of pop-worthy vocals throughout and analog synthwave inspired progressions and tones gives us the perfect balance of hope for the future and longing for the past. The world of Death Stranding depicts America as a blasted and totally disconnected wasteland which, if it isn’t restored, will plunge humanity into extinction. Sam, the hero, must connect the people across the continent. Ludvig’s innovation speaks for itself, listen and you’ll see why we think he is the composer to make Hans Zimmer shake and quake.
One of the composing team behind the 2020 remake of Final Fantasy VII, Hamauzu has a long history with Square-Enix. His first experience working with Square Enix was on the original Final Fantasy VII in 1997 and since then he went on to compose and edit the music for FFX and FFXIII along with their related spinoffs. What I find fascinating is that he had initially departed from video game composition, stating he felt like he had done enough of that, but the chance to work with the original team of FFVII to develop this new iteration of the story and universe for new generations pulled him back in. Don’t expect to hear much new video game music of 2020, but my what a swan song! “I was exhausted and even felt that I had enough of making games, possibly because of my increasing age and feeling very limited by the new system, but in the end I think it was those feelings that let me push myself back. It is the same every time, but I feel that I have managed to somehow write music that very much has the "Final" ethos of FINAL FANTASY behind it.”
Yet another, and perhaps the most important member, of the Final Fantasy VII Remake music team is Mitsuto Suzuki. Suzuki was brought into the fold as the composer who would breathe new life into the music which had stood the test of time for diehards and new fans alike, for the better part of 23 years by the time FF7R was released. I love his story because he came to FFVII initially as a fan, and eventually worked in games for 10 years, until he joined Square-Enix for this project. Providing fresh takes on old music is a difficult feat, especially with a brand that maintains almost religious devotion of it’s millions of lifelong fans - which is why he is on this list. The FF7R OST is full of surprises, from reharmonized classics to modern interpretations of places like Wall Market and the Honeybee Inn and even brand new themes, Suzuki’s influence captures the heart and soul of the original, midi-sounding OST of the original, but with new playfulness and passion. Listen for yourself (as if you haven't already)