The sounds of video games are often taken for granted. Where would Mario be without the boing in his jumps or the glittering chime of collecting a coin? Sounds help shape the games we love in subtle ways. The tiniest sounds can help a game shape its identity, and make a great game all the more great.
Winner: Dark Souls 2
Dark Souls 2 is a game that boasts top-notch sound design. It’s a game that has a sense of dread always looming overhead, and that dread is brought to the forefront largely through its use of sound.
The creaks of dilapidated bridges, the clanking of armor, the echoed snarls of a monster lurking around the corner. Dark Souls 2 uses its sound to keep players constantly on their toes, weary of what inevitable dangers lie just ahead.
Then, of course, are the roaring bosses, whose very footsteps evoke a sense of fear. No matter where you go in Dark Souls 2, the very sound effects somehow manage to reinforce the idea that you’re alone in this dark and dreary world, and that you’re more likely to run across a bloodthirsty monster than another human being.
Be grateful then, for every time you hear the flickers of a bonfire, so that you can save and – for a brief moment – be reprieved of all the gloom and doom around you.
Runner-up: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze