Immersion comes in many forms. These days it is all to common to have Discord or group chat, or even a podcast playing in the background while gaming. However, some games just demand you give them your full attention. Not just with your hands or your eyes, but with your ears. They call for you to cast aside the distractions and obligations of the world and become fully immersed in the experience of the game. Great sound design is everything from the footsteps to the trigger pulls and everything in between. With that said, here are the winners of Lords of Gamings 2023 Golden Lance Award for Best Sound Design.
When you first boot up Starfield, players are greeted with Inon Zor’s iconic opening track. It beautifully sets the tone and themes of the game and truly resonates. Starfield is about exploring the unknown and the soundtrack encapsulates it perfectly.
When you’re on your ship, hearing the consistent dialogue and banter between your companions is exceptional and adds immersion. Every companion you bring along with you has something unique to say and is not shy of giving their outlook on your decisions.
When players are in combat scenes, darker and more intense-themed music kicks in and adds resonance to what’s happening.
While ambient sounds when first landing on planets add to the sense of mystery. Overall, Starfield’s audio design may seem understated at first, but a closer listen reveals it is an essential companion that elevates the mood and experience.
Runner Up: Baldur’s Gate 3
Everything about Baldur’s Gate 3’s sound design is as impressive as it is immersive. Everything from weapons to magic spells to environmental noises sounds great. The strongest sound decision might be the sound of the die roll. The sound does not mimic the sound of a real-world die being rolled. Instead, the sound works to build suspense as the player awaits the result. Thus, the feeling of anticipation is maintained even if the sound itself differs. When success or failure comes down to a die roll, that anticipation is crucial. As frequently as rolls occur, nailing the die roll sound effect is vital. Baldur’s Gate 3 nails not only this, but all the little things as well. From opening a door to picking up a bottle, the sound design never disappoints.
Runner Up: Dead Space Remake
Dead Space is by far the scariest game I have played in a long time, and its all because of the audio design. Through my television speakers, it already put my on edge with the various creaks, cranks, bangs, and clatters. But when I’m playing with my PULSE headset, every sound made has me on my toes. And that is the level of fear few horror games have ever managed to make me feel.