Five choice recent video game soundtracks

“Sound Shapes,” released today for Sony’s PS3 and handheld system Vita, isn’t the typical video game score. The game uses previously unheard tracks from the likes of Beck and Deadmau5, among others, to create a universe where the songs explored are dependent upon a user’s movements.

Like last year’s “Portal 2,” which featured music from Jonathan Coulton and the National, “Sound Shapes” brings a little pop cred further into video game culture. They’re not the only games to have winning scores. Here’s a few recent examples worth investigating.

“Journey.” Austin Wintory’s score for this PS3 game comprises 18 relatively short pieces, many of them mixing orchestral flourishes with ambient electronics. There’s hints of Eastern mysticism, and these string-based arrangements are the stuff of Hollywood epics.

“Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.”Canadian singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie struck a wondrous tone for much of the score of this mobile game. His electronic flourishes aren’t quite retro, but wouldn’t be out of place in an electrical parade at a Disney theme park, either.

“Max Payne 3.” Local noise rockers Health crafted the tension-filled soundtrack for this multi-platform blockbuster series in lieu of a new album, and the move pays off. While there’s plenty of action movie heroics throughout this score, this is the best showcase yet for Health’s synth-driven versatility.


“Dyad.” This recently released downloadable game on the PlayStation Network boasts a psychedelic head trip of a score from David Kanaga and Jason DeGroot, fusing the latest dance trends with “Tron"-worthy craziness. This is a racing game where the music can induce a trance.

“Bastion.” Darren Korb’s score for this downloadable Xbox game is a little folksy and more than a bit Western, with hip-hop beats and gunslinger guitars. It’s a sunburned soundtrack to a wild frontier that re-imagines American roots music as something almost alien.