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Video games are awesome 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop 5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop Video games can help you succeed at life. It's an uncommon opinion, especially in mainstream media, but it's true. Read More . Beyond their gripping stories Pull Out The Tissues: 5 Video Games That Will Make You Cry Pull Out The Tissues: 5 Video Games That Will Make You Cry Video games offer something that no other narrative medium can: interactivity. And when it comes to emotional gaming, there are some seriously impactful scenes that will take your breath away. Read More , engaging gameplay, and social aspects, though, lies an oft-overlooked aspect: the music. A good video game original soundtrack (OST) is tough to get right; it needs to highlight whatever emotion the player should be experiencing at a point in time, as well as being submissive so as not to be distracting to the player.

In the past, we’ve written about using music to boost your productivity Find the Best Music to Boost Your Productivity Online Find the Best Music to Boost Your Productivity Online Listening to music helps you focus and get more done, according to music therapists. What kind of music will improve your mood, and make you more productive? And where should you start looking for music? Read More , as well as some awesome full soundtracks you can listen to on Spotify 25 Original Video Game Soundtracks You Can Listen To On Spotify 25 Original Video Game Soundtracks You Can Listen To On Spotify For the price of an album per month you can subscribe to the music streaming service Spotify and listen to as much music as you can possibly stuff into your ears. You can even feel... Read More . Today, we’re going to celebrate the best video game soundtracks for those times when you’re studying or trying to focus.

Why Listen To These?

You may be wondering what the big deal about listening to game soundtracks is, especially if you don’t play video games. As mentioned above, the soundtracks need to be engineered so that players can enjoy them while still being able to focus on what they’re doing. In addition, it’s difficult to really enjoy a good soundtrack unless you’ve listened to it outside of the game, since all sorts of sound effects are getting in your way during the game.

The soundtracks given here aren’t necessarily the best of all time, but they’re all excellent collections while still providing a good background for focus. A sample of the best tracks will be provided for each OST, and you might be tempted to listen to the 30-minute extended versions of your favorite tracks. I’d recommend against this, however, as they tend to get repetitive after a few iterations and the constant changing of a full soundtrack keeps your environment fresh.

Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES; 1995)

Kicking off the list is one of the most-beloved soundtracks of all time. The first DK Country was an awesome title, but its sequel improved on it in every way imaginable, with better graphics, more varied locations, amazingly intuitive secrets, and one of the greatest game soundtracks ever.

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It’s amazing to think that this much emotion could be packed into a game soundtrack, but composer David Wise made it happen. It is mostly upbeat and good for those times when you need a medium pace for your work.

The obvious choice for a highlight in this game is Stickerbrush Symphony, but let’s go with a different one to expose you to something new. Mining Melancholy is an awesome track that makes you feel like you’re touring the mines; listen for the striking of the worker’s pickaxes in the intro!

Bastion (X360, Steam, iOS; 2011)

Bastion is an action game with role-playing elements that follows the Kid as he strives to restore a fallen world. The soundtrack is excellent; it gives the feeling of the Wild West while also being upbeat and taking you to a fantasy world. The game’s Narrator is certainly one of the highlights; you can hear a sample of his voice in the opening track of the OST.

This game’s highlight is the track Bynn The Breaker, which plays often during intense combat scenes. It starts off fairly tame, but builds into an intense midsection that will keep you on edge. Bastion’s soundtrack is great for an even-headed day when you need some music to keep you fantasizing about saving the world.

Matt mentioned Bastion in his top alternatives to Diablo III The Top 5 Alternatives To Diablo 3 [Gaming] The Top 5 Alternatives To Diablo 3 [Gaming] Diablo 3 is out. The game hasn’t pleased everyone. Some gamers feel it doesn’t live up to the legacy of the Diablo franchise while others are just mad about the DRM. If you’re in the... Read More , so if you’re a fan of either game you may find more to like there.

The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube, Wii U; 2003)

Nearly any of the Zelda soundtracks could have made this list, but Wind Waker’s goes great with any kind of work, and it’s lengthy so you won’t have to worry about changing tracks often. Wind Waker’s soundtrack has an Irish feel to it, with pipe-based instruments bringing a sense of being in the beautiful outdoors.

One of the first tracks you’ll hear is a perfect example of how gorgeous this soundtrack is, and thus it’s the highlight. The Title Theme will rile any gamer up into an adventurous spirit. Its happy beat will get you going even on those tough mornings.

VVVVVV (Steam, 3DS, Mobile; 2010)

Adding some variety into the mix is the soundtrack for VVVVVV (pronounced V-6), a retro-infused platformer game where you reverse gravity instead of jumping. Its 30-minute soundtrack is full of boppy tunes that would have been at home on the early consoles of the 80’s.

Passion For Exploring, the track that plays on the overworld map, is one of the best. It gives the funky feeling of being lost in space that the game tries to convey. Chiptune music doesn’t get much better than this!

We’ve featured VVVVVV in many lists, including Steam’s most difficult games 5 Crazy Difficult Games You Can Get On Steam 5 Crazy Difficult Games You Can Get On Steam Thanks to Steam, you can play these games without spending too much money. Read More and tiny games that are still a blast to play Less Is More: 5 Small Games That Are Big On Fun Less Is More: 5 Small Games That Are Big On Fun Hundred-hour games with loads of content are awesome, but sometimes you just want a focused, fun-filled experience. These 5 titles deliver just that. Read More . If you don’t mind a bit of a challenge, try it out!

Assassin’s Creed II (PS3, X360, Windows, OS X; 2009)

The Assassin’s Creed series has been getting yearly installments for quite some time now, but thankfully they continue to (mostly) be of high quality. Since Assassin’s Creed II borrows from historical locations and events, you can expect it to have an equally historic and beautiful soundtrack. It doesn’t disappoint, and at nearly two hours long you’ll have plenty to listen to.

The Ezio In Florence track is brilliant. Picture sitting on a rooftop in Italy during the sunset, watching people go about their business; this track brings those images to mind. Its smooth flow yet epic undertones make it one of the highlights on an already great soundtrack.

If you like Assassin’s Creed but weren’t sure about checking out the latest installment, check out why AC IV: Black Flag is one of the best entries yet Burnt Out on Assassin's Creed? 4 Reasons to Return for Black Flag. Burnt Out on Assassin's Creed? 4 Reasons to Return for Black Flag. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is decidedly different from its predecessors. Whether you're a lapsed fan, or you've never donned the assassin's iconic white cowl, Black Flag is absolutely worth your time. Read More .

Super Meat Boy (X360, Steam; 2010)

Some may say that if you play this game, you have a death wish, as it is teeth-grindingly difficult. You will die hundreds of times on your quest, but SMB goes to great lengths to ensure you have everything you need to succeed. The soundtrack is just as well-crafted, and brings some tension while still being smooth enough to allow you to focus.

In Super Meat Boy, each level has a Light and Dark World variant. Most players will be able to clear the Light World levels, but the Dark World path contains some of the most difficult stages in modern gaming.

What’s neat is that the music for each world reflects this; a more pleasant, traditional tune is used for Light and a twisted remix of it for Dark. Rocket Rider, World 3’s Dark World background music, is one of the best remixes in the game. Also, it’s not the hardest world, so listening to it won’t bring back feelings of rage.

Super Meat Boy has some achievements that are close to impossible 5 Gaming Achievements That Are Close To Impossible 5 Gaming Achievements That Are Close To Impossible That's right, this is a challenge from me to you. I'll bet all my marbles that no one reading this article has (fairly) earned any of the achievements you're about to read into. Read More ; if you can earn them, hats off to you.

Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage! (PlayStation; 1999)

Spyro is one of the classic PlayStation franchises. Unfortunately, the series has degraded severely over time, but the original three stand as excellent 3D platformers. The soundtrack is whimsical and has a fantasy element to match the locales you visit; ensuring the high-energy gameplay of Spyro has some great background noise to go along with it.

The Skelos Badlands theme is one of the best. It’s funky and makes you feel like you’re out in the wild where the level is located. There’s not much else to say about it, it’s just a classic soundtrack.

Spyro 2 took a well-deserved spot as one of Philip’s four nostalgic PS1 games that never get old Get Nostalgic: Four PS1 Games We Still Love Going Back To Get Nostalgic: Four PS1 Games We Still Love Going Back To You can keep your Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U; the original PlayStation will always hold a special place in a generation's hearts. Read More .

FEZ (X360, Steam, PS3, PS4, Vita; 2012)

Ah, FEZ. Creator Phil Fish had a rocky path in the gaming industry, and life hasn’t gotten any better for him. Recently he was the target of a massive information breach, after which he announced his departure from video games and sold his company. The one game he gave us, though, is brilliant.

Home, the track that plays when you start out in the village, is simple and short, yet soothing and peaceful. It would make a great alarm for waking up in the morning; it reeks of watching the sun rise over a mountain.

Journey (PS3, PS4; 2012)

Journey’s name describes it perfectly. It’s a game that is all about wandering around and exploring, and cuts out the noise that modern games introduced. The music, of course, gives you an awesome backdrop for this exploration. Even some movies don’t have soundtracks like this!

This is another game where a top track is hard to pick, but Atonement is definitely worth mentioning. Try sitting back and devoting your attention to listening to it; it really is a beautiful piece of music.

Video games are often intense and epic, but Journey makes the short list of calm games to soothe your soul 4 Relaxing Video Games That Will Soothe Your Soul 4 Relaxing Video Games That Will Soothe Your Soul Who says video games have to be an intense experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time? Of course, playing through an intense FPS like Call of Duty is fun... Read More .

Braid (X360, Steam, PS3; 2008)

Braid is one of the most popular indie games of all time, arguably introducing many people into that world. In the game, you control time by rewinding it at will, which also affects the music. Because of this, even if you’ve played it, you can’t appreciate the beauty of the soundtrack unless you’ve heard it without these interruptions.

You could pick any beautifully crafted track off Braid’s short OST, but Lullaby Set takes first place. The instrumental bliss has to be heard out of the game, and the nostalgic emotion laced into it will give you something to think about. Even if you hate video games, this is one soundtrack you have to give a listen.

Braid isn’t just an awesome game, it has an awesome price. Check it and nine others out on the list of best PC platformers for under ten dollars The 10 Best PC Platformers Under 10 Bucks The 10 Best PC Platformers Under 10 Bucks The PC probably is not the average gamer’s first choice when it comes to platforming, but this is only because other genres overshadow the robust selection of platformers that are available for computers. In fact,... Read More .

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PlayStation; 1997)

Crash is another Playstation gem, and it too had its golden days with its first three iterations. The second game’s soundtrack is like Spyro’s: whimsical and excellent at matching the various locales you visit in Crash’s adventure.

The levels in Crash 2 are themed, so one track might cover two or three stages. One of the coolest tracks is the theme to The Eel Deal/Sewer Or Later/Hangin’ Out levels. It’s electrifying and makes you feel like you’re down in the pipes with its banging beat throughout.

Crash has been neglected in recent years, so it would be awesome to see him back for more shenanigans and revived on the PS4 5 Sony Franchises I Want Brought Back For The PS4 [MUO Gaming] 5 Sony Franchises I Want Brought Back For The PS4 [MUO Gaming] Sony has finally announced the PlayStation 4, ushering in the end of the longest console generation in recent memory. Sony showed plenty of exciting games at the press conference, such as Bungie's Destiny, a new... Read More .

Listening Material

You now have several hours of game music to listen to while you work or study. There’s a good variety here! There could have been 50 more OSTs on this list, but you’ve got to stop somewhere, right?

If you’re looking for even more soundtrack goodness, Simon has covered the top websites for game music Top 3 Sites For Video Game Soundtracks Top 3 Sites For Video Game Soundtracks Read More , and Christian has expanded on enjoying game soundtracks while working How To Enjoy Video Game Soundtracks While You Work How To Enjoy Video Game Soundtracks While You Work I’ve recently been enjoying the new Guild Wars 2 MMORPG, with its fantastic graphics, overdue revision of the mechanics of RPG combat, thrilling tasks, quests and dungeons and of course the amazing soundtrack by the... Read More .

What are your favorite game soundtracks for studying or working? Do you have any other favorite tracks from the games I highlighted? Share your tastes in the comments!

  1. dude
    May 29, 2016 at 7:22 am

    This list SERIOUSLY ought to have the OST's from Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I think it's my go-to study tracklist

    • Ben Stegner
      May 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      I haven't played those ones, but thanks for adding to the list! :)

  2. millie
    March 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    The Sims! The original Sims series (Sims 1) had the best soundtrack, especially for studying

  3. Yosef Dikson
    June 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    The Dragonnest Soundtrack must be write , like : 1. day of destiny 2. the eternal path try to listen both of that , i'm sure that will almost making you cry

  4. Iandro van der inde
    May 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Other great soundtracks would be the Kingdom Hearts games and Child of Light. I use those OSTs to study all the time :D

  5. Alan
    May 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Simon Viklund's Music for Payday 2 are some AWESOME soundtrack. Be sure to check em' out!

  6. Alex
    March 21, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Jeremy Soule's soundtracks are perfect, too (mostly the OSTs from Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim). His soundtracks are packed with loads of feelings and nostalgia, his music takes you to imaginary places.

  7. Jon L
    March 13, 2015 at 8:13 am

    I also partially meant it for the comment section too, but I not being a gamer I didn't really harbor nostalgic. Also some of FEZ's music was so awesome I think I was a little distracted but was great music

  8. Jon
    March 8, 2015 at 1:20 am

    you forgot that it's study music not sounds that give u nostalgia.

    • Ben S
      March 9, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      I didn't forget anything. More than half of these games were released after 2000, and they all make good studying music, regardless of the nostalgia. It's just good music.

  9. marcin
    March 5, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Guys, You forgot about Final Fantasy VI, FF VII, FF VIII and FF XIX OST. Don't mention the world of Akira Yamaoka for Silent Hill series and tons of other stuff :)

  10. lucid dream
    March 1, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Touhou has probably some of the best bgm out there... It has a great amount if variety as well.

  11. Glaze
    February 8, 2015 at 12:13 am

    Drawn To Life has an amazing soundtrack.

  12. Becca
    January 28, 2015 at 5:45 am

    I definitely definitely recommend NieR's soundtrack. It's absolutely gorgeous beyond belief. Some other wonderful mentions would be Catherine, Bravely Default, and Transistor.

  13. Taylor
    January 15, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Another really good soundtrack is the Modern Warfare 2 one.

    • Ben S
      January 20, 2015 at 4:34 am

      Hans Zimmer, who conducted the newer Batman movie soundtracks, did the MW2 soundtrack. He's a master!

  14. Michael
    January 11, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I highly suggest listening to Doom 1 & 2, tempest 2000, castlevania bloodlines, megaman x, silpheed, time trax, or streets of rage 2

  15. John
    December 17, 2014 at 4:12 am

    What about Xenoblade Chronicles? That soundtrack was outstanding!

  16. Daniel Escasa (@silverlokk)
    November 7, 2014 at 1:56 am

    I had trouble opening the YouTube (or youtu.be) URL from my VLC. 'Twas an https. Deleted the 's' and I was good to go.

    • Ben S
      December 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks for letting me know! I usually remove the "s" but must have overlooked that one.

  17. Joseph Villalobos
    November 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    FTL: Faster Than Light has an excellent soundtrack for studying as well.

    • Ben S
      December 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      I own that game but haven't played it yet. Maybe someday...

      Thanks for your suggestion!

  18. Dex
    November 5, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Oh-oh... You forget to mention Shenmue OST.

    • Ben S
      December 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      I haven't heard of this game, Dex, but I'll look it up! Thanks.

  19. Ivan
    November 5, 2014 at 12:17 am

    "The Skelos Badlands theme is one of the best. It’s funky and makes you feel like you’re out in the wild where the level is located..."

    One of the main reasons it is like this, is because Stewart Copeland actually played through each level to get the feel of it, before composing the music for each. Spyro is just all around awesome :3

    • Ben S
      December 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      I didn't know that! What a level of quality. Just another reason to love Insomniac, right?

  20. Michael
    November 4, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    You should also consider the Crypt of the Necrodancer soundtrack

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