Final Weapon Awards 2023 – Best Original Score

    With 2023 coming to an end, it’s time for the 2023 Final Weapon Awards! There are a total of eight awards we will be giving out this year, which are the following: 

    This article will showcase each Final Weapon staff member’s pick for Best Original Score, which recognizes a soundtrack that went above and beyond with a memorable score we’ll be listening to for years to come. With that, here are our picks for the Best Original Score Award.

    Staff Best Original Score Picks

    Andrew – Final Fantasy XVI


    My personal favorite score of the year is Final Fantasy XVI. Masayoshi Soken, Takafumi Imamura, Daiki Ishikawa, Saya Yasaki, and Justin Frieden absolutely popped off with the music in this game. In particular, Masayoshi Soken is known to be the main composer in Final Fantasy XIV. He did an excellent job in that game but in FFXVI, his work was captivating. He touched on many different music genres from ambient music to 90s industrial rock. The fascinating thing about it is that the songs fit so well into the dark fantasy world of FFXVI.  

    Itch – Hi-Fi Rush

    New Costumes in the new update of Hi-Fi Rush

    A good rhythm game requires some great tracks. So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when I say that Hi-Fi Rush quite possibly has the best soundtrack of the year. While the game does make use of licensed music, there are plenty of original tracks that can be equally as enjoyable. 

    As someone who tends to enjoy rock music in general, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hi-Fi Rush‘s score very much appeals to me. It also perfectly fits the game’s aesthetics, creating a perfect marriage between the game’s art and audio direction. The final result is a game unlike any other this year. 

    In Hi-Fi Rush, music isn’t just something to establish a tone or to go unnoticed as ambient noise. Instead, music is at the forefront of everything. It is the game’s identity, and implementing that successfully isn’t necessarily an easy task. 

    Hi-Fi Rush has one of the most unique scores out of any game this year. It’s bursting with energy and very much complements the gameplay. While there have been other games with outstanding soundtracks, it’s hard to argue that this particular game isn’t deserving of this award. Hopefully, Hi-Fi Rush will go on to inspire some other crazy rhythm games in the future.

    Noah – Final Fantasy XVI

    The Phoenix in Final Fantasy XVI

    The highs of the Final Fantasy XVI original soundtrack are the best of 2023. Tracks like ‘Away’ made an immediate impression on me as I played as the Phoenix shooting fireballs at Ifrit. What surprised me the most with this OST was the variations and variety found within it. Different genres of music appeared throughout the game as you fought different bosses and visited new towns. 

    Some of my favorites after rolling credits include ‘The Riddle,’ a bombastic track that plays as you clash with Barnabas, and ‘Against the Wind – The Eye of the Tempest,’ a quieter track with techno elements that plays as you march towards Garuda.

    Truly, the most remarkable thing about this soundtrack is the story behind it. Masayoshi Soken wrote this OST as he was in the midst of a battle with cancer. He gave it his all, and it’s more than clear with his contributions.

    Saras – Hi-Fi Rush

    Hi-Fi Rush

    It is unsurprising that Hi-Fi Rush, a game that asks you to time attacks to the beat of the soundtrack, has my favorite soundtrack of the year. That said, Hi-Fi Rush‘s soundtrack has quickly become one of my new favorite soundtracks of all time after just under a year. Action game fans have learned to expect rock and high-temped pieces from the genre, but Shuichi Kobori, REO, and Masatoshi Yanagi go above and beyond what players traditionally anticipate.

    Hi-Fi Rush has levels filled with rock anthems and tunes filled with percussion instruments (such as bongos, of all things). There are even a few jazz tunes. Additionally, the game also features licensed tracks by the Nine Inch Nails, Black Keys, The Prodigy, and more. Amazingly, though, for players streaming the game, there are alternative tracks performed by a mysterious band called The Glass Animals. It is with these tracks that the identity of Hi-Fi Rush truly begins to shine, giving it one of my new favorite soundtracks in the entire industry.

    Favorite Songs:

    Too Big To Fail by The Glass Pyramids

    Dev Engine by REO

    Captive Normals (A Fever Dream) by The Glass Pyramids

    My Heart Feels No Pain by The Glass Animals

    Soul – Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE

    Master Detective Archives RAIN CODE

    The lo-fi beats and mysterious tunes of Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE really resonated with me. Masafumi Takada and the rest of the sound team at Too Kyo Games really went all out with the soundtrack, and the overall score reminds me of why I also enjoyed the Danganronpa games so much. Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE’s score even has subtle references to music from past games, which really drove home some of the themes of this game. Despite the stiff competition from games with excellent soundtracks, I think Master Detective Archives: RAIN CODE brought a very unique score that gelled perfectly with the setting and the game’s theme. 

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