I'm sure some of us recall playing certain games and thinking that the background music was more well-composed than most modern music.
In particular, I thought I'd share some Matt Uelmen. He wrote a sort of pastoral Romanticist gothic/horror ambient infusing the likes of Brahms, Tangerine Dream, Beherit's EDS, Lord Wind, DCD, etc. into a sort of moving landscape for the first 2 Diablo games. The music is clearly designed as background, but is not without its structural and melodic merit. While not valuable for its development (though it does manage this to some extent), I think it's a good study as a way to fuse various dark and Romantic aesthetics in a modern context.
Original theme from the first game. Probably the most overtly developed piece. I would again term this a sort of pastoral/idyllic ambient mixed with acoustic folk. Some very beautiful melodies intertwining amongst each other and some of my favorite use of orchestral instruments outside an orchestral setting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tmc9U_9NQs
Catacombs theme. Something of a darker Dead Can Dance at first and then turning into some really haunting vibes replete with depraved voices scattered throughout as if momentarily intruding the soundscape to remind one of their dread. Like most of Uelmen's soundtracks, cyclical phrases ebb and flow and give way to new developments that arise organically to develop a consistent level of suspense. Unfortunately, it doesn't really "arrive" anywhere in the end, though one certainly gets the sense that in a more ambitious project and without the limits of writing for a video game, Uelmen could flex a wider range of his compositional muscles. That said, the atmosphere is beautiful and it is yet another great example of an ambient aesthetic that has not been explored.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0KSoDKE26o
Another haunting piece. Slightly reminiscent of something Endvra could create, albeit a little more Romantic.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LGASEPjYuk
This is a little further in his career showcasing a more vibrant, Romantic landscape bringing to mind music befitting a race of noble and proud people. Some brilliant melodies in there and almost a shame they're not given the chance to flourish in the context of a more ambitious form such as a symphony. Nonetheless, powerful.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEL3Z049cY
Another one I very much like and showcasing a very prominent Romantic darkness. One might ask (reasonably) why he should listen to this over Brahms for instance and my answer is that classical music will always be far and away more developed than anything that even so much as aspires to its greatness. However, I like this as an ambient re-interpretation of Romanticism and the melodies themselves are strong. Once again, another drawback here is that it can feel cyclical, though given that its intent is to ebb and flow rather than swell to greater heights, it does quite well.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dovaRLK1eAE