Since it’s October and I effing love Halloween, I’m going to be covering season-relevant topics as often as I can this month, so to start, how about a little more Resident Evil? For this Song Spotlight, I’d like to cover some of my favorite songs from the Resident Evil series, the safe room/save room themes.
I always thought these tunes were especially iconic and important in the Resident Evil games. Particularly in the games that used the old gameplay format, you’d always have one of these songs. They play in rooms — typically with typewriters (save points) and item storage boxes — where you’re safe from any enemies. The song is typically designed to fit that tone, to make you feel safer, but there’s some interesting variety between the different ones. Continue reading to check out a few that I thought were noteworthy.
Titled “Safe Haven”, this is the main save room theme — or at least my ideal one — from the remake of the original Resident Evil. It’s virtually identical to Peace of Mind from the original version of the game, and even has a couple of other variants in the remake itself.
Many other save room themes in the series, such as Code Veronica’s, Resident Evil Zero’s, Resident Evil 4’s save menu theme, and Resident Evil 5’s two different chapter end themes (found here and here) seem to be heavily derivative of the original tune as well. At least, they clearly take inspiration from its sound. Or maybe it’s just me? Let me know if it sounds like it to you.
My favorite is still the embedded one from the remake, though. The original’s can’t match its sound quality, and I thought most of the derivative themes were a little more generic and duller sounding, though they’re still nice and atmospheric. I think Code Veronica’s is the only one I feel nearly matches it.
The reason I prefer the one embedded above is because I think it does the best mix of peacefulness, beauty, and tension. Most of the save room themes are at least a little melancholy, but I think this one executes it the best. It’s a more complex song, that makes you feel safe and relaxed, but also a little sad, and it reminds you that you’re safe for now, but won’t be for long. I thought Code Veronica’s, while gorgeous, is mostly just a really pretty song and not as foreboding. Then again, that’s only a matter of game design and atmosphere; they might be equal songs when considered on their own.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Code Veronica’s save room theme is Resident Evil 2’s and 3’s:
These two songs go for practically the same thing: They’re barely reassuring. They give an air of calm, but not really of security; it’s typically calm both before and after a murder, after all. They’re excellent tunes and they probably fit their settings — overrun urban environments involving mass death of the citizens — better than the original game’s theme would, but I still prefer the more lengthy and emotional Safe Haven over these.
Oh, and about those names… “Secure Place” works, despite what I said earlier about security, because you are technically safe in your room but not free from harm overall, as the song communicates; you’re only secure as long as you stay there. “Free from Fear” on the other hand is just… wut? It’s a horror game! Of course you’re not free from fear! And the song doesn’t even fit it; it’s still a scary tune.
Nitpicking. Moving on.
The last one I want to talk about is “Serenity”, the song that plays in safe rooms or Merchant locations in Resident Evil 4. While the actual save menu theme is very similar to the classic save room song and was mentioned above, the song that plays in the actual rooms is completely unique, and honestly unlike any other one in the series.
I always thought Serenity was just a little unsettling. It’s not a dangerous theme; it definitely makes you feel like you’re no longer in danger. But it’s not really calming or relaxing either, or at least it never was for me. It’s just… weird. It’s different, and strange.
I definitely don’t like this more than Safe Haven or a lot of the other songs, but it’s worth noting for how unique and unusual it is. Somehow it fits the strange Merchant man with his hilarious greetings and the bizarre blue flames that can always be found near him (seriously though, what’s up with the blue torches?).
So what’s your favorite save room or safe room theme in the series? Have they ever particularly interested you, and/or do you agree with my assessments? Or did you like a different song better? Tell me in the comments!