I think Square Enix’s RPG soundtracks are gaming’s gold standard. Nier: Automata’s music, composed by Keiichi Okabe (of Tekken fame) is in the upper echelon of my favorite video game music, joining the likes of Nobuo Uematsu’s Final Fantasy VII and Yasunori Mitsuda’s Chrono Trigger soundtracks. Automata’s score isn’t mere ambience. Instead, it’s directly involved in the game’s design: Songs transform depending on plot progression. Pascal’s theme, for example, is one of Automata’s more upbeat tunes, mirroring the peaceful robot’s childlike exuberance and cheery disposition. However, during more solemn story moments, the same song plays again but with different sonic components like a melancholy chant or contemplative piano notes. In Automata, dialogue and player choice are integral pieces of the narrative, but instrumental melodies and vocal harmonies spin complex stories of their own.
Additionally, Okabe relies on “chaos language” – a blend of two or more languages (in Automata’s case, mainly German and Japanese) that create undecipherable, but oddly familiar conlangs. This approach reflects the state of Automata’s setting and time-period: 2B and 9S’ futuristic, post-apocalyptic Earth is, all at once, eerily foreign and familiar.