Video Game Soundtracks for Studying (Part 1)
Like any high school student, you probably have homework. A lot of people enjoy listening to music when they study, but it can get tricky when it comes to picking out the tunes. You generally want an album that isn’t distracting but can also keep your subconscious busy while you focus. Whenever I find myself head-down in a mountain of work, I turn to video game soundtracks.
“It's a whole genre designed to simultaneously stimulate your senses and blend into the background of your brain, because that's the point of the soundtrack,” according to Sara Chodosh of Popular Science. Because video game soundtracks are composed to help the gamer focus, they make the perfect study music. After all, there are few differences between the boss fight with Undyne the Undying and a battle with math homework.
I’ve compiled a list of video game soundtracks with notes on genre, how easy they are to work to, and more. These are not in any particular order. Without further ado, here are ten video game soundtracks for studying to:
Journey is some of the most beautiful, relaxing music on this list. It’s something you could fall asleep to. There are almost seamless transitions from song to song, and the ambience that fills the background fits really well. I love the integration of the flute; it makes for a really nice and relaxing soundtrack. But, it’s not just the instruments that make this album so great, it’s the melodies themselves.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/M3hFN8UrBPw
My favorite tracks: Threshold, The Road of Trials
Monument Valley 2
This is a really bright, well-composed soundtrack. It’s relaxing, and I have fallen asleep to it more than once. It has a great array of instruments that contribute to a beautiful soundtrack. Todd Baker, the composer, has done some of my favorite soundtracks, including Land’s End. It is definitely one of my favorite soundtracks of all time.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3y3AHU3lhInUsKot2YXy6H94FjWdc6Oq
My favorite tracks: Impossible Worlds, Interwoven Stories
This is a unique soundtrack, beautiful in a strange way. It’s catchy and immersive. The radio noises and static incorporated work with the music. It’s a good choice for studying, if the radio sounds don’t distract you that much.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/cNEgCziVY0U
My favorite tracks: Towhee Grove, Beacon Beach
With its various levels of eclectic mystery, this soundtrack encourages listeners to focus and think like the FBI agents that players control. Thimbleweed Park is a modern pixel point and click game, made to look like one from the late 80s, early 90s, and the music reflects this.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/eUs_FjjSFk0
My favorite tracks: Town
Abzu is an underwater exploration game, designed to be a relaxing escape from reality. This soundtrack contains melodies that indicate the mysterious aspect of the game, but it also incorporates sounds reminiscent of the ocean itself. The choir/voice tracks used in the music add to the wonder and beauty of the game.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/TCuhQLgDgIg
My favorite tracks: Seriola Lalandi, Delphinus Delphis
Right from the start, you can hear that unique Firewatch style; guitar, piano, and the sort of sad but mysterious melodies. It’s easy to tell that this soundtrack was composed for the game, a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness where the only person to talk to is on the other end of a handheld radio.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/X6neFKE4yaE
My favorite tracks: Prologue
Child of Light
The gentle tone of this album is perfect for calm pursuits: be it studying, relaxing, or just sipping a warm drink by the fireplace. It has everything from graceful melodies to darker, intense tracks, yet it still manages to keep everything in the same mystical genre that this album was meant for. This album is a piece of art.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/DqOu0BnJrWQ
My favorite tracks: Aurora’s Theme, Off to Sleep
Gorogoa is a hand-drawn puzzle game that is comprised of layers of art and perspectives, creating an impossible 2D world that plays with the rules of reality. Its soft instruments and long notes provide a really nice ambience for studying. The songs are extensive and easily blend together, so the listener can easily get immersed in the music. This shows the exceptional composing of the Gorogoa soundtrack, especially since the puzzles in the game seamlessly flow from one to the next.
YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgkdq5xB80hx8UUvi-9wwVH0PzI9LWG37
My favorite tracks: Study
If you like electronic, unique soundtracks… I can’t think of a better one for you. There is a mountain of musical diversity in this album. The composing was done phenomenally, bringing in dark, comical, and gorgeous melodies often stacked back-to-back. It is even more enjoyable if you have played the game (and please, please play the game, it is one of the best games ever). Being a futuristic, first person shooter puzzle game, Portal brings an electronic album to this list that is unlike any other.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/ZHSX9_pLwc8
My favorite tracks: Reconstructing More Science, Want You Gone, The Courtesy Call
Undertale is a unique, recognizable soundtrack. The creator of the game, Toby Fox, actually composed the soundtrack himself, which gives it an authentic feel. The music was meant for the game and the game was meant for the music. I highly recommend this soundtrack for anyone who likes lots of diversity and 8-bit “video-gamey” type sounding soundtracks. This soundtrack does contain a few >30 second songs, so don’t get confused when something is only a couple seconds long!
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/SxNcKXjfaQo
My favorite tracks: Home (Music Box), Dummy!, Spear of Justice, Metal Crusher, MEGALOVANIA, and many more
If you like the original Undertale soundtrack, check out Determination, a Toby Fox approved cover album of some of the best tracks in the game. It was done incredibly well with some really unique takes on the original songs. I would recommend listening to the original soundtrack first, of course, but if you prefer a more rock style then this album might suit your tastes better. The artists did a very good job working with the melodies from the original soundtrack.
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/c8ikdbG7HQY & https://youtu.be/Xqx90Bth94w
My favorite tracks: Electric Balboa, Nihilist