Music is an integral part of any game. While tracks that truly compliment the situation and environment are often capable of conveying a story without the use of words, leaving a lasting impression, dull, uninspiring themes can go completely under the radar.
The list below is a compilation of some of my own personal favorite dungeon themes. As usual, I have attempted to provide an eclectic mix of tracks from all sorts of RPGs throughout the years, and I’m sure that I have missed many amazing tunes as a result. Also, since the definition of a dungeon can vary greatly across titles, I’m allowing ANY hostile environment that is not considered a traditional world map as a candidate for the list.
Secret Green Passage – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
The first entry in the Trails series easily wins my “most started, but never finished” RPG of all time. The sad thing is that I love this game – The aesthetic, the music, the combat – everything. Listening to this track again for this list has reminded me again why I enjoy the game so much, and how badly I want to play it once more. I just can’t make myself sit at a computer and play it through to completion, and for that reason I’m hoping one of these days the series will land on the Switch.
Within the Giant – Final Fantasy IV
Narrowing down a single dungeon theme within the Final Fantasy franchise to “rule them all” may sound like a daunting task, but for me the selection comes naturally. This has always been my go-to dungeon theme simply for how wicked it is, and it perfectly captures the essence of ascending a gigantic robot, as well as the dangers that might await within it.
A Bell Is Tolling – Secret of Mana
As a southerner that almost never gets to see or experience snow, I’ve always been partial to winter wonderlands in games – not only for their aesthetic, but for those times when composers hone in on the appropriate sounds of the icy landscapes as well. A Bell Is Tolling is a fine examples of nailing the feeling of a frigid biome in a musical sense.
Bombermines – Evoland 2
As much as I love highly sophisticated, layered musical tracks, there’s something to be said about the simpler themes that still get the job done, and well. This track from Evoland 2 is an excellent example of providing proper ambiance (in this case, a dangerous mineshaft) without over complicating things. As they say, the devil is / can be in the details, so the “less is more” approach certainly works here.
Dungeon I – Seiken Densetsu
Kenji Ito’s work on both the SaGa and Mana franchises (among other works) is some of the best music out there that isn’t under the Uematsu brand. His skills as a composer really shined through with his many works on Gameboy titles, especially with the first entry into the Mana franchise, Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden or Final Fantasy Adventure in the US. If this track in particular doesn’t scream “dungeon” to you, I don’t know what will.
A Stirring Taboo – Tales of Vesperia
The most recent epic-length RPG on the Switch, Tales of Vesperia’s soundtrack as a whole did not receive a “pass with flying colors” seal when I reviewed it for the site, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feature moments of excellence. This track in particular is responsible for setting the mood of an enchanted forest, and I think it does so quite nicely.
Eroded Valley – Ys VIII
Ys VIII was easily my favorite action RPG on Switch in 2018. While the graphics aren’t the best, the satisfying combat, engaging story, and killer soundtrack more than made up for the shortcomings of the aesthetics. The only issue with Eroded Valley is that it is limited to a single area of the game, which is a real shame because it’s an incredible track.
Crystal Teardrops – Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
While I knew that a Symphony of the Night track would make it on this list, figuring out exactly which one would make the cut was a painful debate. Like seriously, go and listen to the entire soundtrack because every piece is amazing in its own right. However, when the dust settled over my decision, I decided to go with Crystal Teardrops for its portrayal of the beautiful subterranean section of Dracula’s Castle – complete with dripping water for added flair.
Abadis Forest – Dust: An Elysian Tail
One of my biggest regrets in recent past that just surfaced a few weeks ago was my insane tardiness to the Dust: An Elysian Tail party. It is a fantastic game even by today’s standards, and has a truly epic soundtrack.
Gormott Province (Lower Level) – Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Like Symphony of the Night, I had a tough time narrowing down my pick from the Switch’s first epic RPG endeavor, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This track is very easygoing and may not be as exciting as more upbeat tunes prevalent throughout the game, but it has always stuck with me as it, in many ways, was used to mark the beginning of Rex’s very long journey.
That’s it for this list! Stay tuned for the next installment soon!