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Best Original Music Score of 2023

Best Original Music Score of 2023 - Article

by Taneli Palola , posted on 20 January 2024 / 3,585 Views

The last 12 months were once again filled with some exceptional original video game scores. There were numerous standouts to be found on both the indie and mainstream side of the industry, and at various point throughout the year I thought the best scores were already clear, only for another contender to appear soon after. Yet, the five top contenders this year are likely not too much of a surprise to most people.


The Shortlist:


Final Fantasy XVI

(Composers: Masayoshi Soken, Takafumi Imamura, Daiki Ishikawa, Saya Yasaki, and Justin Frieden)


Baldur's Gate III

(Composer: Borislav Slavov)


The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

(Composers: Manaka Kataoka, Maasa Miyoshi, Masato Ohashi, and Tsukasa Usui)



(Composer: Inon Zur)


Octopath Traveler II

(Composer: Yasunori Nishiki)





The Runner-Up:

Octopath Traveler II

Composed by Yasunori Nishiki, a relatively new rising name in the world of video game music, Octopath Traveler II is arguably his best work to date, alongside his score for the first game in the series. The score essentially has eight separate main motifs, each surrounding one of the eight main playable characters, all of which have their distinct styles and tones to give each character their own clear identity. In addition, every major location comes with its own primary theme tune, with different versions for day and night, and this is still just scratching the surface of the score's depth. The sheer number of pieces on the over 7 hour soundtrack is already notable, but the fact that nearly all of them are also excellent songs makes it even more impressive.




The Winner:

Final Fantasy XVI

In the end, there can be only one at the top, and the winner of Best Original Music Score of 2023 is Final Fantasy XVI. While the series itself has gone through its ups and downs over the years, one element of the Final Fantasy games that has remained almost universally praised from one entry to the next is the music.

The score for Final Fantasy XVI, very much like the game in general, is far darker in tone than that found in past entries. The live orchestral arrangements are a perfect match for the game's bleak world, and the way Masayoshi Soken and his team matched the various themes to the characters and locations they're associated with is masterful. For anyone curious, have a listen to the different Eikon battle themes, many of which were specifically composed to match those characters' narratives on an emotional level. The soundtrack is a joy to listen to, and more than deserves the award for Best Original Music Score of the year.

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Machina (on 20 January 2024)

The big surprise for me when listening to all of the finalists was how good Octopath Traveler II's score was - there were a few really cool, up-beat guitar riffs in certain tracks. My overall pick though was Starfield's soundtrack, which sadly didn't get the recognition it deserves imo - no doubt because the game as a whole disappointed people.

  • +10
coolbeans Machina (on 20 January 2024)

While I didn't get through all of Starfield's OST, it did earn a spot that wasn't just purely based on popularity imo. Especially liked discovering how one faction is into black metal.

OTII's score is probably my GOAT with Alan Wake II's not far behind. I hope more big studios invest in custom-made OSTs where your character's actions inform a song's lyrics.

  • +2
Garrus coolbeans (on 21 January 2024)

Alan Wake 2 OST, really? ///

  • 0
coolbeans Garrus (on 21 January 2024)

Yep. You can't ignore bangers like this:

  • 0
shikamaru317 (on 20 January 2024)

I'm a bit sad that Alan Wake 2 didn't at least make the shortlist, but I'm glad Starfield made it, Inon Zur didn't get anywhere near enough recognition for that fantastic soundtrack (he has often been overlooked over his 20+ year Game Audio career with many great soundtracks by him passed over for awards throughout the years, including his fantastic Dragon Age Origins soundtrack).

  • +7
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 20 January 2024)

As it should be, square enix are kings in this.

  • +6
hellobion2 (on 20 January 2024)

Ff gets its due

  • +4
The Fury (on 20 January 2024)

Out of interest, what were the indies in consideration for this? As soundtrack isn't really one limited by budget or even how good the game is, great music is great music after all. Basically, lacking Jusant and Under The Waves, which seemed to get a lot of praise here.

  • +3
Machina The Fury (on 20 January 2024)

No indies made it through to the finals, but in preliminary voting the indies with the highest share of the vote were Sea of Stars and Pizza Tower.

  • 0
Leynos (on 20 January 2024)

ugh. Bomb Rush and Octopath robbed

  • +2
Darashiva (on 20 January 2024)

Well, the top two here were my two favourites of the year as well, I just had them the other way around. Still, can't really complain, both are excellent scores.

  • +1
Garrus Darashiva (on 21 January 2024)

exactly, me too

  • 0
LivncA_Dis3 (on 21 January 2024)

Ffxvi had the best soundtrack of 2023 absolutely

  • 0
Garrus (on 21 January 2024)

(and even if the OST is good, the music has TO PLAY when you play the game properly, for example Mass Effect Andromeda has a pretty good OST but it almost never plays when you play the game so...)

  • 0
Garrus (on 21 January 2024)

Zelda made me depressed, another Zelda game with hardly any good music playing. Octopath 2 and FF16 continue the tradition!

Hope we can get a Zelda game like old with the best music again. One day. Midna demands it!

  • 0
smroadkill15 (on 22 January 2024)

Starfield has such an amazing score. In fact, my favorite score from last year. As others have said, certainly hasn't received the recognition it deserves in this category.

  • -1
dane007 (on 20 January 2024)

Did they reuse some of the music from ff15?. Some sound very familiar lol

  • -4