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 forest themes in RPGs. 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. But that’s where you come in – be sure to leave your own personal favorites down in the comments below.
Woods of Elevated Coral Reef – Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
My second favorite track in the OST – just behind Eroded Valley – this piece has the difficult task of providing ambiance to a forest comprised of an elevated coral reef. While you might not immediately get a picture of that in your mind from listening to it alone, it makes a lot more sense when you’re in the midst of the zone itself. It’s a beautiful, yet haunting piece that is just upbeat enough to grab the attention of just about anyone.
Forest Maze – Super Mario RPG
I remember the Forest Maze in Super Mario RPG really being annoying as a kid, because I just didn’t understand what it expected of me. As a result of many hours wandering those woods, this track has been stuck in my head for years on end. My adolescent rage should not take away from how nice of a piece it is, however, as it is one of the jolliest forest themes out there.
Evil Forest – Final Fantasy IX
After “kidnapping” the princess, your team crash lands into the Evil Forest. A huge departure from the bustling city, the haunted woods serve as the party’s first foray into the massive world of Final Fantasy IX. While perhaps not too “evil” sounding, it can still easily captivate you with its offerings.
Into The Thick of It – Secret of Mana
When I think of Secret of Mana, I think of this track because, to me, it embodies that sense of adventure and discovery like no other. Equal parts uplifting, mysterious, and just the right tempo makes for a truly epic track.
Uraya – Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I kid you not – when I first heard this theme in-game, I teared up. The cave/forest hybrid environment found on the Titan, Uraya, is an equally visual and tonal masterpiece. Although Xenoblade Chronicles 2 isn’t my favorite epic-length JRPG on the Switch from a gameplay perspective, it is easily one of my most favorite soundtracks on the Switch to date.
Cedar Woods – Breath of Fire III
No, this isn’t Secret of the Forest from Chrono Trigger. While the opening sequence might have been heavily influenced by the legendary RPG, Cedar Woods diverges into a more Jazz-esque feel to match the mood of the rest of the game’s soundtrack.
Terokkar Forest – World of Warcraft
MMO themes are often designed as a “slow burn” in order to prevent fatigue that can set in with shorter compositions. Terokkar Forest definitely takes a while to “kick in”, but when it does, you might be forced to just “stop and listen”, just as I have many times over the years. If you don’t want to listen to the entire 10 minute track, I’ve provided excerpts to the two most meatiest of sections above. You’re welcome.
Sanctuary of Zi’Tah – Final Fantasy XI
Ask anyone that has played Final Fantasy XI what some of their most favorite tracks are from the long-running MMORPG, and Sanctuary of Zi’Tah will likely make it on everyone’s list. Naoshi Mizuta is the king of the slow burn, and it is because of amazing pieces like this that slowly build over a long period of time. 10/10.
That’s it for this list! Stay tuned for the next installment soon!