Level Up! | Video game soundtracks to check out

Level Up! Is a biweekly blog about all types of games, from Dungeons and Dragons to Mario Party.

By Sinead McDevitt, Digital Manager

When I need to really hunker down and get work done, I love to listen to video game soundtracks. They’re designed to play in the background while you do something else, so they form this perfect cushion of sound to help you focus. Plus, some of them will trigger your fight or flight reflex if you’ve spent enough hours playing the game.

To make this easy on myself, and so I don’t just end up writing about “Tokyo Mirage Sessions” again, I’ve limited myself to games with soundtracks on Spotify. Don’t worry, I’ll still end up giving you a lot to listen to.

Persona Games

Shoji Meguro’s soundtracks for the Persona series are well known for containing nothing but bangers. He’s done the music for every game since the remake of the first one, and each one manages to have a unique style and sound, from “Persona 3’s” rock and rap to “Persona 4’s” J-pop inspirations and “Persona 5’s” stylish jazz pieces. The soundtracks for these games — and several spinoffs — are all on Spotify, so it took me a very long time to narrow down which specific tracks I wanted to recommend. Still, though, here are some tracks from different games to give you a feel:

“Wiping All Out”

“I’ll Face Myself -Battle-”

“Life Will Change”

The Caligula Effect 1 and 2

Speaking of games with nothing but bangers, since the premise of “The Caligula Effect” is basically “Hatsune Miku puts people in a coma” — I promise it makes sense in context — it’s only natural that these games feature several Vocaloid producers such as MikitoP, nulut and Tsumiki. If you don’t know who they are, just know they’re songwriters who create great battle themes for each dungeon across both games. Examples:


“Designed desires”

“Miss Conductor”


I really like niche FuRyu games, OK? And can you blame me? The soundtrack for “Monark” is great, once again giving each character unique themes that are stylistically similar enough to make for a coherent soundtrack, even if you don’t know what the lyrics mean. It’ll make the fact that you’ll probably have to refight every boss at least once really worth it. Examples:




Kingdom Hearts III

All the Kingdom Hearts soundtracks are great, but “Kingdom Hearts III” is currently the only game whose full version I can find on Spotify. Or, rather. “KINGDOM HEARTS – III, II.8, Unchained χ & Union χ [Cross]” but if I tried to explain what that means, we’d be here for a very long time. What’s important is that Yoko Shimomura, Hikaru Utada and the others featured in this soundtrack craft amazing themes that bring both the familiar worlds of various Disney films to life and boss fights with the original cast of characters. Examples:

“Vector To The Heavens (Xion)”

“Simple and Clean (Ray of Hope Remix)”

“Dearly Beloved”


Transistor” is constantly tragically overshadowed by its younger sibling, “Hades,” but it’s so good. Play it. The metaphorical knife is back and I am telling you to play it. Audio director Darren Korb specifically crafted the vocal tracks with the idea that in-universe, the main character performed them before her boyfriend got stuck in a big sword and she lost her voice. Again, it makes more sense in context. The end result is a bunch of very poignant jazz numbers that really stand on their own. Though, again, play the game. Examples:

“In Circles”

“Paper Boats”

“We All Become”

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES and nirvanA Initiative

Kotaro Uchikoshi’s latest mind-bending mystery series are honestly the only games here that don’t make sense even if I try to explain the context — at least not without a corkboard and a lot of red thread. The central mechanic of these games is that you enter the dreams of suspects while trying to solve a murder. Some dreams are goofy, some are serious and some are downright disturbing, and the soundtrack matches. Each game also has a vocal theme that comes up throughout the story as the theme song, and by the end you will really come to enjoy them even if they seem a bit odd at first. Examples:

“Novel Ingress”

“Invincible Rainbow Arrow”