Cobalt Core isn’t just a great game, its soundtrack is also an all-timer

Every year, there are a couple of game soundtracks I become properly obsessed with. In 2022, I more or less had the music of Tunic and Citizen Sleeper on repeat whenever I left the house. In 2021, it was Chicory. In 2020, it was Coffee Talk and Signs Of The Sojourner, and in 2019, it was all Mutazione, all the time. 2023 was a pretty great year for game music as well, as we not only got Alan Wake 2’s exquisite musical set-piece that’s honestly just been getting better and more insane as time’s gone on, frankly, but also the toe-tappingly brilliant soundtrack of Cobalt Core, which has somehow risen even higher on my forever playlist after revisiting it for this month’s RPS Game Club.

Composed by Aaron Cherof, Cobalt Core’s music alternates between high-energy battle tracks and calmer, more relaxed ambience. It’s so dang good, and an absolutely perfect backdrop for sliding in and out of oncoming missile fire in its roguelike spaceship fights. So come along and jam to some of its best tracks with me below as I pick out some of my musical highlights.


Cover image for YouTube video


I think the only correct place to really start here is with “Self-Defense” (embedded above), whose underlying beats immediately get the blood flowing as you gear up for battle. The best thing about this track, though, is how it spends just over a minute gearing you up, and then almost cuts the bass completely in favour of a melodic little piano solo at the 1.10 mark. Its syncopated rhythm feels so urgent as it flies over the top of the rest of the track, like the aural embodiment of your own spaceship dashing in and out of enemy cannon fire as you desperately – but assuredly – steer yourself to victory. It’s proper magic, and the way it then builds and builds and folds back into the rest of the track just fills you with such energy and confidence.


Cover image for YouTube video


In fairness, the regular battle track “Epoch” (embedded above) from the game’s first star cluster, is also pretty darn great. It’s a much steadier and more uniform track than “Self Defense” – ideal for those low-level battles where you can just work through the strategies of your deck without much pressure – and it’s probably the one you’ll hear the most often. It’s just got a teensy bit more going on than the second world’s main battle tune “Lawless“, which is slightly slower paced and (to me at least) has a bit more ‘cruisin’ for a bruisin’ kinda vibe.


Cover image for YouTube video


That’s not to say Cobalt Core’s slower tracks are any less excellent, of course. “Rezz” (above) has a real breezy and cool air of confidence about it, like you’re speeding down the intergalactic highway in sunglasses with the rooftop down. I also really like the ‘what sounds like an electronic saxophone’ part that just noodles away on top around the 1.50 mark. I can just picture Riggs playing air sax at a very unhelpful moment during a fight when that comes up. Oh Riggs. Your daft old possum, you.


Cover image for YouTube video


Now, I’m not sure I’ve even encountered the next track in the game yet, but cor, just listen to the first ten seconds of “Weird Foe“! Absolutely exceptional. So cool, so jazzy, so playful. The bass is infectious, and the prominent percussion can’t help but get you moving to the beat. Personally, whatever ‘weird foe’ this is, they sound heckin’ great. The suavest foe. The achingly hip foe. The foe I secretly want to be friends with but never will. I almost feel bad about blowing them up already. Sorry friend.


Cover image for YouTube video


Finally, I also just wanted to say how gorgeous “Beneath A Birchen Moon“is. A more traditional piano track compared to the rest of the soundtrack’s electronica themes, you know I’m a sucker for anything piano. It’s slow, melancholy and hopeful at the same time, and a truly lovely remix of the game’s main theme. Yes, it probably is the game’s credits theme – I’ve yet to get there myself – but cor, that sure is a real treat waiting right at the end for me. Looking forward to it.

Have you also been enjoying the music of Cobalt Core as you’ve been playing it for Game Club? Perhaps you have a different favourite track you’d like to shout about instead. The whole soundtrack is available to listen to on Bandcamp, Spotify and YouTube (and probably several other places), so why not tell us about your favourite tune in the comments below? And if you want more of Aaron Cherof’s spacey musical good times, then I’d strongly recommend listening to the music he composed for Rocket Rat Games’ first game, Sunshine Heavy Industries, too. It’s real good stuff.


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