In a department where the bar was set pretty high by many games yet many more managed to reach it, the difference is usually made by the impact which is pretty much a subjective factor. The year 2017 had plenty of games with quality audio design, good voice acting and impressive musical scores. Resident Evil 7 delivered a haunting audio experience with the Baker’s family voice acting being the center of attention. Hellblade was an ASMR inducing cascade of whispers which made me feel sorry for those who can’t feel this entire experience. Assassin’s Creed: Origins delivered all over the board with its AAA quality bundling atmospheric music, well delivered voice acting and quality sound effect. Yet, in the end, it came out to a battle between two underdogs, NieR: Automata and Cuphead.
Cuphead delivered this engaging soundtrack that’s probably going to be associated with a lot of resent due to the game’s punishing nature. This is the kind of music and sound effects that have no rival in terms of thematic. NieR: Automata had a more emotional approach perfectly associating each track with the action on the screen. But as I contemplated over this incredibly tough choice, I opened YouTube to refresh my memory. While listening to Pascal, Amusement Park, A Beautiful Song or Weight of the World for the umpteenth time the emotions I felt while playing NieR: Automata became so vivid in my mind making the choice for me.
It’s hard to imagine the emotional rollercoaster that is NieR: Automata without its immersive audio component. From the anime-like boss battles to the surrendering sequence in the Machine’s Village, the score is a masterpiece perfectly placed on the puzzle that is this game. The musical score is so touching and ever-shifting for the narrative requirements that you don’t have to be engulfed into the Japanese culture to appreciate what the composers Keiichi Okabe and Keigo Hoashi have managed to achieve here. But audio delight doesn’t stop with the soundtrack. The Japanese voice acting is a pleasure to listen to invoking true emotions through enunciation that has the power to transcend preferences. But even those going for the English dub are in for a treat, the performance wasn’t too shabby despite the nature of this game.
NieR: Automata is such a surreal audio experience that’s transcending its video game medium to the level of pure art. Even without the narrative context that gives the musical score so much meaning, I would still recommend everyone to check this soundtrack.