A PC Gaming Music Journey: From Doom to Terraria, System Shock, and More Memorable Soundtracks

For a plotless flight sim, Jane's WW2 Fighters had some glorious music to accompany you into battle.
Metroid Prime. The soundtrack is ethereal.

But I'm biased; this was the most immersive game I'd ever played to that point, and it turned me into an alternate world enthusiast!
Last edited:
Not that any of you are wrong, but PC gaming music folks! As per the title.

I'll shoot for the Secret of Monkey Island. And Rome Total War. For the modern stuff I'll give Hades a mention, also Turbo Overkill has a banging soundtrack.
You missed Jeremy Soule.

This person has made the soundtracks for some groundbreaking games: Total Annihilation, SW:KOTOR, W40K Dawn of War, and Skyrim are but a few of his works...

Also, go watch the Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra on YT. He re-orchestrates iconic theme music from games. Really good work.

@shawn maybe you could also do a follow-up article about the phenomenon of videogame music now making the rounds in concert arenas. Entire ensembles have been created just to play iconic soundtracks from our "youth".

Then there are those who take it to a whole other level like:
- The Swedish Radio Orchestra
- The Danish National Symphony Orchestra
The Final Fantasy franchise holds the record for most music in video game history. It is still producing music to this day. Final Fantasy Main Theme as seen in FFXIV:

Couple of my all time favs:

Earthbound (SNES) -

Top Gear (SNES) -

1943 The Battle of Midway (NES) -
The first XCOM soundtrack by Michael McCann still gives me goosebumps every time I listen:

Battlefield 1 is also in my top 5:

I am also a sucker for live orchestra playing Mega Man 2:
I'm still very appreciative of the great mood on the composition and the smooth changes that iMUSE bring to the Lucasfilm games and LucasArts graphic adventure games from the 90s.

Also love the tracker based music from Unreal engine, Deus Ex was the one that kept me hooked on for longer.
Quake 1&2 have been mentioned.

Warcraft 2 was epic.

Then there's licensed music...

I still listen to the soundtrack to Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. Alan Wake had some great tunes, too. So good they had to pull the game when the licensing expired in 2017.

Mostly, though, I'm in the "turn off music as soon as the game is installed" camp. A game could launch with no music at all and I wouldn't miss it.
Taste is so personal and subjective, but for me, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.

I've played lots of games with good music, but the music from Odyssey matched the content and themes of the game perfectly. Just a few guitar notes now...and I am transported to epic ancient Greece.
No love for Final Fantasy series? The japanese were always dead serious in their musical compositions to accompany their RPG story and impersonate the characters. They also use classical music and orchestra much more than the western ones. IMO, Final Fantasy XV 95 tracks long composition was eclipsing any other game musicals, including their own previous series, each also with their own long listing of tracks.
Last edited:
Last, how about a nod to the old Sierra 3-D adventure games of the 80's and 90's? Games like Kings Quest IV, Space Quest III, or Hero's Quest (later renamed Quest for Glory):

(Side note - I had an original Tandy 1000 (4.77 MHz 8088) with 3-voice sound and after "upgrading" to a Gateway 386 I was appalled at how bad the regular PC speaker sounded. These games literally drove me to buy an 8-bit SoundBlaster just to hear the soundtracks. To put this in context, the game boxes had ads *from Sierra* to buy an AdLib card or a Roland MT-32 just for the soundtracks.)

Absolutely this. Sierra were at the vanguard of dragging the PC up-to-date for music in games, especially with their promotion of the MT-32. They had artists like Bob Siebenberg (Supertramp) doing the soundtracks too.
Wolfenstein 3D, Star Wars Dark Forces, Panzer General, and Quake 2 soundtrack is branded into my brain