Sometimes You Just Have to Take a Break from Boulder Smashing… and Zombie Bashing!
Resident Evil save room themes are most certainly a staple part of the games.
First and foremost the games are obviously well-known for their gory, zombie-infested narratives; or at least storylines with some sort of infestation (such as Las Plagas or Uroboros). However, the part I always concentrate on is that sweet (or bitter sweet) melody that accompanies the moments of respite and relative safety.
The series came to prominence in 1996 with the original game “Resident Evil”. Since then multiple titles and spin-offs have been released. Some have been absolutely fantastic, and some not so great (we’re looking at you Resident Evil 6!) And almost all end with a self-destruct sequence (relatable). But as aforementioned the recurring constant that flows through all of the games is that of the save room music. It is usually a short piece of music that does not actually last that long, but is played on a loop upon entering a safe part of the game map (usually designated as a “save room”). This music is like a breath of fresh air, shielding you from the likes of zombie dogs, mutant sharks and Nemesis to name a few.
Given that it is such an integral part of the series, I am comprising a list ranking the themes. I will try to include as many as possible, but some will inevitably be excluded for time’s sake (and the fact that there are now approximately 27 games!)
#10 Dead Aim
Dead Aim is quite different to the regular save room themes. It has more of an ’80s synth feel about it, and yet it is still quite soothing. That’s not to say that RE doesn’t tinker around with different types of sound in its games, because it does. However, this one in particular feels like it would also fit nicely into an action movie starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger, and yet it still works very well for taking us away from that hectic zombie world outside of the save room door!
#9 Director’s Cut
Director’s Cut walks a fine line between calming and unnerving with its theme. The toy box style piano feels innocent and almost inviting (which is how a save room should really feel). And yet with its shifting tone and sometimes diatonic approach to the chords (clashing) it can throw you off in the very next second. I like this one because it keeps you on edge. You may be safe for now, but not for long!
#8 Revelations 1 & 2
I may have grouped these together, but the themes for Revelations 1 + 2 are definitely not the same, they are just somewhat similar. Revelations 1 provides a slightly floating feel with its simple piano structure. There is a suspension that happens between the notes being played as though time is slowing down. Revelations 2 on the other hand, achieves this with lovely guitar harmonics and violins. Maintaining that slightly floating feel, but somehow it feels more reassuring than Revelations 1. The music in Revelations 2 is technically from an “upgrade room” rather than a save room, but the premise is similar enough.
An honourable mention goes to the end of mission menu theme in Revelations 2 as well. It is slightly more gritty. It has a lovely piano and string backing which is comforting and feels nice and deep. However, the sounds that mimic razor blades leave you with the feeling that although one section is over, another is about to begin…
#7 Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (Remake)
For the purists out there it may seem blasphemous that I would put the remake version in this list above the original. I understand, trust me! But I believe that the Remake rendition does it more than justice. This version is more airy, and the echo as well as how the piano resonates in this is very effective. It is another theme that keeps you on your toes. I get the feeling that the sigh of relief weighs heavier than in other games, and the tune does a good job of letting you rest only as much as a Resident Evil game does.
Of course a massive honourable mention goes to the original Resident Evil 3 save room theme. What I will give the OG over Remake is that its theme is a bit bolder. The piano hits harder and the timbre is much deeper and darker. Which is very befitting!
#6 Resident Evil 2 (Remake)
Once again I have chosen the remake version, hope I don’t make a habit of this… Not unlike how I have characterized some of the other themes, Remake’s adaptation seems to make time slow down again. This is extremely warranted given that you have Mr. X always on your tail! This one incorporates some light string use, but also creates a more modular effect over the top which seems to warp everything a little bit. I dare say that in a zombie apocalypse everything would be very warped – so it seems telling! Not to mention in Remake this theme is seldom heard, instead of appearing every time you enter a safe area like in other RE titles, it is very possible to enter a save room and not hear it at all. So it is more of a rarity!
You guessed it, the honourable mention does go to the original. Like the original Nemesis theme, Resident Evil 2 hits harder and has more depth to the piano. The great thing about this one as well is that you can essentially hear it whenever you want, unlike in the remake.
#5 Resident Evil (Remake)
Well, okay, there’s another remake version – but hear me out! This entry might be more biased, as the remake is the version that I can properly remember from when I was younger. However, this track truly makes me feel like there is a safe moment when I enter the save room. The pan pipes in the back of the track are slightly eerie, but in a way that feels like it’s more or less giving you a hug! The actual melody in this comes across so well, it sticks to a more major scale which is slightly unusual for the series (as games after this evidently went for the more tense feel).
Honourable mentions undoubtedly go to the original soundtrack, but also for the Dead Silence version as well. Admittedly choosing between these was harder. There is not a lot separating them and they all share aspects which make it more difficult to tell them apart. The original does seem to have that ’90s feel to it as well though, which I suppose is innate within me since I am a ’90s kid! They’re all beautiful in any case and I enjoy listening to each of them.
#4 Code: Veronica X
Code: Veronica X is a game I have a love/hate relationship with. For the most part I love it, and definitely love the save theme that comes a long with it. The piano composition is lovely, and the twinkling notes that exist behind it are so relaxing. Out of all of the tracks this is arguably the most comforting for when you’re heading to a typewriter to take a break from the chaos. Especially Alfred and Alexia. The part of this game that I am still not over 20 years later however is Nosferatu… I have to say his design both character and sound wise were done exquisitely well in my opinion, as he still freaks me out to this day! The same room theme for this game just helps me to stay calm before going back out there to watch some poor Dragonfly have its wings ripped off…
#3 Resident Evil 4 (Serenity)
Serenity is the ultimate before the storm theme from Resident Evil. Resident Evil 4 may have departed from the regular scheduled zombie-filled programming, but it no less contained jump scares and just all-round creepy moments within the village infected by Las Plagas. This song is only encountered once in the game, but is so beautiful that when you do come across it you will remember it. Occurring just before a boss fight of sorts, it allows you to chill out in a little hidden space not far from our top guy, The Merchant, before undertaking yet another behemoth creation. I know that this track is a particular fan favourite, and for a very good reason. Imagine being caught in an all-encompassing mist, but one that isn’t scary, instead it is wrapping around you like a safety blanket. That is the level of security that this song brings.
#2 Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7’s theme returns to a more cautious feel. It is definitely a sound for sore protagonist Ethan as it offers a moment of solitude, but it is disquieting. I personally see this as a reflective piece, not one that serves to remind you of good things, but to remind you of what you have just endured and survived. Instead of tears of joy, this would definitely be accompanied by tears of apprehension. I don’t mean to get too deep and depressing here! But it functions so well in this regard. I can listen to this piece for hours on end, not because I want to feel sad, but because it seems to access something that promotes true feeling. No safeguarding, just the knowledge you have to try again.
#1 Resident Evil: Zero
RE: Zero takes first place here. It happens to be my favourite game from the franchise, but it also has a simple yet effective save room theme. Admittedly, it is repetitive, but like RE: 7 it works well at being reflective. The way that it differs is in how it does allow you to feel a sense of respite. As you begin the game as S.T.A.R.S rookie Rebecca Chambers, there is a comforting innocence about her character, but obviously she finds herself in the throes of terror when she encounters the zombies on the train.
This theme manages to encompass the innocence of her character and entwines it with the melancholy of the story, and goings on outside of the room (or sometimes still in the room if there is a long dead zombie in there with you). The piano melody trickles down, which is also befitting as it is raining heavily outside for the entire game. But its timing also seems to match the tempo of a resting heartbeat (or at least I think so). To me it is the perfect balance of what Resident Evil embodies, the horror that lurks outside your door, with the hope and belief that you can defeat and change it.
Overall honourable mentions go to Darkside Chronicles, the end mission theme from Resident Evil 4 and pretty much all themes from Resident Evil 5! (They’re pretty good too). No mentions go to Resident Evil 6 however, as we pretend it doesn’t exist, and not even the soundtrack could redeem it.
Check out the pieces for your listening pleasure:
Hope that you enjoyed this ranking of some of the best save room themes in the Resident Evil series. If you are wanting some more GW content why not check out our YouTube channel? You can also find out the best bachelorettes in Stardew Valley! Thanks for reading!
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