GOTY 2014 - Best Sound Design
This year, we're rolling out a new set of awards that recognize achievements (and some dubious honors) in specific areas of game development. There are ten awards in all, with two new ones being awarded every day this week. Keep checking back for more winners! Don't miss out on any of our Game of the Year coverage. Check out our full schedule here, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for instant updates.
Best Sound Design - Transistor
Supergiant Games | May 20, 2014 | Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This category was originally titled 'Best Music', an award Transistor still could've easily claimed based on its soundtrack alone. Composer Darren Korb got a lot of well-deserved attention for the work he did on Supergiant's last game, Bastion, but the music of Transistor matches the story and setting impeccably.
The tone is a departure from Bastion, as Transistor is a cyberpunk noir tale, and while the soundtrack has similarities to its predecessor it reflects the moody paranoia well. The alluring vocals and guitar are back, this time joined by strong horns. It has some common ground with Halo ODST (another excellent soundtrack in the sci fi noir vein). The music contributes to the setting and the player's investment equally as much as the art and story do. The biggest compliment to Transistor’s music is that it doesn't sound like a poor-mans Hans Zimmer or historically inaccurate chiptunes, the two genres that make up roughly ninety percent of gaming music now. The music in Transistor is not distracting, but it is memorable.
Korb's compositions are not the sole reasons for Transistor winning Best Sound Design, however. I only picked up a PlayStation 4 this year but I'm already sick of the DualShock 4’s speaker. Audio from the controller was an annoying gimmick on the Wii and it's only going downhill. I thoroughly enjoyed inFamous Second Son but the constant sound emanating from the controller when absorbing blast shards was horribly grating. Transistor somehow manages to endear the feature to me with the option to have the sword (the most vocal character in the game) speak from the DS4. It doesn't change the game in any way, but it's a big contribution to immersion, and is a nice touch in a game full of nice touches. – Tyler Martin
Runners-up: Shovel Knight, Destiny