While murderous monsters, psychopathic killers, and abandoned buildings are all hallmarks of horror, nothing manages to terrify us like an eerie score! When it comes to survival horror video games, one series is the undisputed king of creating the perfect auditory atmosphere: Resident Evil. The venerable survival horror series celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, and as we learned at this summer’s E3, it is finally making the leap to virtual reality, which will add a whole new dimension of immersive terror. While the video game series has continuously missed the mark on dialogue, its original soundtracks (OST) remaing among the best in the business. And that is largely thanks to the work of three composers: Makoto Tomozawa, Akari Kaida, and Masami Ueda.
It should come as no small surprise that video game OSTs are gaining steady notoriety outside the gaming world; in fact, a few iconic tracks even made it to Classic FM’s Hall of Fame list in 2015. Resident Evil OSTs have received a generous amount of recognition in Japan with events like the Biohazard Orchestra, a live orchestral concert of the first three titles performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. The most comprehensive Resident Evil OST collection for fans outside of Japan was titled Biohazard Sound Chronicle: Best Track Box. This six-disc behemoth of creepy sounds received a limited release in North America in 2005. It was followed by a wider-release anniversary collection in 2007 called Ten Years of Resident Evil. So in honor of our monthlong Nerdoween celebration, we listened to over three hours of chilling original music from the first four main Resident Evil games and chose the 10 most bone-chilling, spine-tingling, and shudder-inducing tracks ever made. Relive some of the scariest Resident Evil video game memories with us and get ready to slay with your haunted house playlist this year.
10. “Raccoon City Ambient Sound” – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Ah, the unsettling moan of zombies shuffling towards you. Yeah, try not to get paranoid with this track playing. It’s one of the subtler, quieter tracks from Resident Evil 3, but it does a sufficient job of making you dread being out on the streets of Raccoon City. Oh, and please mind the flesh-eating crows.
9. “Novistadors” – Resident Evil 4 (HD Remake)
The sewers are never a fun place to be stuck in–unless there are teenage turtles of the mutant variety involved. The unsettling tune entitled “Novisatador” (Spanish for “unseen”) occurs randomly during various encounters in the sewers in Resident Evil 4 while Leon S. Kennedy guns down one after another of these vanishing human-insect-hybrid monstrosities.
8. “Shot in the Silence” – Resident Evil (2002 HD Remake)
This creepy crescendo on repeat greets you when you first take control of either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield inside the Spencer Manson in the 2002 Resident Evil HD remaster. Exploring the daunting amount of rooms and hallways with this unsettling arrangement playing in the background provides a excellent entry point for the nightmare to come.
7. “The Basement of Police Station” – Resident Evil 2
Of course there’s a spooky basement in the police station of Raccoon City. Why wouldn’t there be? And of course either Leon or Claire Redfield has to explore those spider-and-zombie-infested corridors while this menacing track plays. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
6. “The First Floor” – Resident Evil 2
Another treat from Resident Evil 2–the flourish of a distant, delicate piano almost makes you feel safe in the abandoned police station. Almost. Too bad this creepy first floor is one of the areas you’ll frequently travel through during the first half of the game.
5. “Echo in the Night” – Resident Evil 4
How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you’ve got the President’s daughter, Ashley Graham, but your team has lost contact with the chopper and now your passage is blocked by stronger, angrier Las Plagas zombies. If you said “once,” that’s too much. The atmosphere on this terrifying Spanish farm reaches spine-chilling levels with the help of this agitating track.
4. “Nothing More to do Here” – Resident Evil 2
The S.T.A.R.S. office sounds like a comfortable place for either Leon or Claire to take a load off from the zombie-ridden streets of Raccoon City. Except not really because there’s this deeply haunting track playing over it. As your character explores the office, you’re constantly reminded through the score that this is just the beginning of the nightmare. Word to the wise: don’t forget to grab that grenade launcher from the lockers. You’re gonna need it.
3. “Garrador” – Resident Evil 4
Boss battles in the Resident Evil series traditionally have wildly outrageous tracks that do little to add additional horror back into the gameplay. That is not the case with Resident Evil 4‘s “Garrador,” which turns this (minor) boss battle into an exercise in pure terror. It starts off with a chilling gasp and proceeds to pants-wetting levels of orchestration as you fight your first blind Garrador (roughly translated as “the clawer”). Although there are two more Garrador encounters, this first encounter and backing track achieve the perfect amount of horror and tension.
2. “Rush of Horror” – Resident Evil (2002 HD Remake)
The very definition of horror seems to be embodied by this track. “Rush of Horror” revels in moments of near silence, building background noises that sound like someone–or something–pounding on a closed coffin lid. Navigating across, beyond, and underneath the Spencer Mansion while facing multiple foes from dozens of horrifying experiments is tough enough without this sinister soundtrack. The best you can do is to fight your fears and survive.
1. “A Strange Pasture” – Resident Evil 4
“A Strange Pasture” is the ultimate blood-curdling Resident Evil track. Like a few of the tracks listed above, it’s featured early in the game as Leon tries to make sense of the perplexing horde of zombies infected with Las Plagas. It’s so much more than an ambient track though; it plays over early jump-scare moments between Leon and the farmers, resulting in suspenseful combat situations.
Just for fun here are two special OST honorable mentions: Best “Save Room Theme” goes to Resident Evil 0 and Best “Title Screen Voice” goes to Resident Evil Outbreak.
We can’t wait to hear the new horrifying sounds created for Resident Evil 7 next year. What tracks from the Resident Evil OSTs are your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!