Top 20 Scariest Songs In Video Games

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Top 20 Scariest Songs In Video Games

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
These songs are so scary, we don't even have to play their video games to get spooked. For this list, we'll be looking at video game music that sends shivers up our spines and makes their respective areas that much creepier. Our countdown includes “Prayer” from “Silent Hill 3” (2003), “Sayo-Nara” from “Doki Doki Literature Club!” (2017), “This Is Where They Sleep” from “BioShock” (2007), “Lavender Town” from “Pokémon Red & Blue” (1998), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

These songs are so scary, we don't even have to play their video games to get spooked. For this list, we’ll be looking at video game music that sends shivers up our spines and makes their respective areas that much creepier. Our countdown includes “Prayer” from “Silent Hill 3” (2003), “Sayo-Nara” from “Doki Doki Literature Club!” (2017), “This Is Where They Sleep” from “BioShock” (2007), “Lavender Town” from “Pokémon Red & Blue” (1998), and more! Which video game track unnerves you the most? Head to the comments and let us know!

#20: “Crimson”

“Terraria” (2011)

The procedurally generated “Terraria” features multiple interesting biomes for players to explore. However, one that gives us the willies whenever it shows up is The Crimson. Instead of having the player stumble upon it, The Crimson spreads to neighboring biomes. It’s defined by blood-red pools of water, disgusting, gore-centric enemies, and an overall doom-and-gloom vibe. That vibe is solidified by its accompanying music. The opening percussion may be catchy, but it soon grows to include random, unsettling sounds and unnerving synths that are just as imposing as the setting. It’ll make you feel incredibly tense, which means it does its job well.

#19: “Mr. X” Theme

“Resident Evil 2” (2019)

Being one of the greatest Horror game series of all time, there’s plenty of spooky music featured in the “Resident Evil” series. But the one track that will forever unnerve us is the theme for one of the most frightening characters in the franchise. The nearly unstoppable, trenchcoat-wearing monstrosity that is Mr. X will relentlessly pursue you whenever he sees you. And he has an appropriately overwhelming theme to match how stressful his encounters are. It sounds like something you’d hear in a Slasher movie as the killer draws closer to their victim. So, it fits the character perfectly.

#18: “Demise of the Ritual”

“Shadow of the Colossus” (2005)

This beloved action-adventure game follows Wander, who attempts to resurrect a woman he cares deeply for by slaying a group of intimidating Colossi. Naturally, the final fight is one of the most challenging moments of the game. Instead of a heart-thumping, bombastic score, composer Kow Otani took a much eerier route. And the result is something much more impactful. The swelling strings and chorus fit splendidly with the atmosphere; as both rain and the behemoth’s attacks fall upon you, the score highlights the dreariness of the understated plot. The music is fittingly gothic and makes an already memorable encounter that much more of a stand-out moment.

#17: “Music Room”

“Corpse Party” (2010)

With a name like that, you better believe there’s some spooky music attached. “Corpse Party” follows a group of students who are mysteriously teleported to an elementary school in a different dimension. As they explore, they find it’s haunted by sinister ghosts of murdered children. Outside of the school’s music room, you can hear someone playing piano. But once you enter, there’s no one there. The music may be simple and upbeat, but it’s still completely disturbing, especially as it’s punctuated by off-key chords. The fact that you can’t see who’s playing, as well as that it stops once you get near it, just makes it creepier.

#16: “This Is Where They Sleep”

“BioShock” (2007)

Garry Schyman’s score for the original “BioShock” succeeds in helping to bring the world of Rapture to life. Around every corner is a twisted enemy waiting to greet you, whether they be the ADAM-addicted splicers or the terrifying Big Daddies. Each encounter is accompanied by an exceptionally tense track. The one that makes our skin crawl the most is “This Is Where They Sleep.” Most of the track is a gradual build; the sharp violins continuously grow louder and more high-pitched until you can’t take it any more. Though short, it’s the kind of track that makes you immediately move to the edge of your seat, signaling that something is creeping forward, waiting to strike.

#15: “Your Best Nightmare”

“Undertale” (2015)

Never before has a flower been this terrifying. Though Flowey seems friendly when you first meet him, it quickly becomes clear that he means you and everyone else the utmost harm. Unless you’re going down the genocide route, Flowey will greet you at the end of the game as a mutated horror. And the music that plays is some of the most frightening, disheartening music to ever play during a boss fight. Fast-paced and far from catchy like the rest of the game’s soundtrack, “Your Best Nightmare” starts with sadistic laughter and pummels your ears while Flowey pummels you. Even some of the pleasant moments are only there to lure you into safety before the barrage begins again.

#14: “Prison Block”

“Outlast” (2013)

Just like “Resident Evil 2,” “Outlast” has you being chased by a hulking brute. Only this time, you have absolutely nothing to defend yourself with. You play as a journalist who follows a story to a psychiatric hospital that has definitely seen better days. One of the game’s most terrifying moments, when patient Chris Walker pursues you through a prison block of patients, is paired with an incredibly intense soundtrack. The quick notes from the strings and the clanging percussion elevate the chase to quicken your breath and make your heart beat out of your chest. It’s one of many moments in “Outlast” where you feel powerless, and this particular track helps make this one the most notable.

#13: “Sayo-Nara”

“Doki Doki Literature Club!” (2017)

We don’t want to give away all the twists of this dating sim, but trust us when we say things get pretty disturbing. It begins innocently enough; you’re a high school guy who joins an after-school reading club so you can get to know its female members better. As you play, the game’s ridiculously catchy main theme bounces along. But a unique rendition of it is utterly petrifying. “Sayo-Nara” plays when the player character discovers the body of Sayori, his best friend, who has seemingly hung herself. It’s the main theme, but with all instruments except the piano being played slightly out of key. It’s an incredibly clever way to warp something joyful into something downright horrifying.

#12: “The Hunter”

“Bloodborne” (2015)

The Gothic Yharnam is one seriously spooky location. Its architecture may be impressive, but its inhabitants are some of the deadliest, most blood-thirsty in gaming. An early boss that forces you to adapt to the game’s mechanics or die trying is Father Gascoigne. And the music that accompanies him is equal parts badass and completely chilling. Mostly composed of impressive strings and booming brass, “The Hunter” is a perfect boss track. As his attacks grow more aggressive so too does the music, adding a chorus and quickening its pace. It’s a fantastic piece for setting the mood for the rest of the game, or to just listen to get in the spirit of Halloween.

#11: “First Chapter - On The Ground”

“Drakengard” (2003)

Set in the middle of a religious war, players control Caim, a prince of the currently losing side. The game starts strong, showing how dire things are for the Union during an invasion from the mighty Empire. As Caim hacks and slashes his way through enemies, the score penetrates the action with strings sharper than any blade. It’s a chaotic, nerve-wracking track that brings feelings of urgency, uncertainness, and futility. Which only means it encapsulates everything the player is currently experiencing. It immediately sets the tone while putting you on edge, making it impossible to get a grip on anything.

#10: “Tomb of the Ancients”

“Rayman 2: The Great Escape” (1999)

Rayman’s games are usually incredibly cheerful. But that doesn’t necessarily mean every moment is bright and happy. One level in his second game is anything but. The Tomb of the Ancients is home to a Robo-Pirate stronghold and, upon entering, you’ll be made immediately aware of this section’s creepy vibe. Not only is the area filled with spiders and skeletons, but the music is some of the scariest to ever be featured in a platformer. In fact, the infrequent piano notes that puncture the haunting, high-pitched strings make it sound like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. It’s still one of the franchise’s stand-out tunes all these years later.

#9: “Drunken Whaler”

“Dishonored” (2012)

This track from Arkane’s action-stealth game gets major props for taking a song everyone knows and turning it into something far more creepy and sinister. Players can find a book of harpooner songs in several places that feature the rendition’s unsettling lyrics, which include the lines “Slice his throat with a rusty cleaver” and “feed him to the hungry rats for dinner.” The lyrical changes are enough to make it unsettling, but the song was also used for its gameplay trailer. Instead of a group of sailors merrily chanting, it was a bunch of children, which undeniably makes the song much scarier.

#8: “Prayer”

“Silent Hill 3” (2003)

The decision behind naming this track was clearly a genius one. Any song named “Prayer” that’s featured in a “Silent Hill” game was always going to be ominous and disturbing, but Akira Yamaoka defied all expectations. Few tracks can embody the feeling of pure evil the way this one does. Although, few game series embody terror the way “Silent Hill” does. It consists of low-pitched, distorted moans, infrequent breathing, and percussion beats that simulate a lumbering monster inching its way towards you. It definitely isn’t a track we’d want to listen to regularly, but it is one that flawlessly captures the tone of its game.

#7: “Dungeon”

“Diablo” (1997)

Well, you are going on a journey to Hell to defeat the devil after all, so you’d better expect some pretty spooky tracks. The theme that plays whenever you enter one of the game’s procedurally generated dungeons will certainly instill a desire to find an exit quickly. The track’s quick, varied percussive instruments and deep horns are accompanied by a strange high-pitched sound underneath and some unnerving moaning. Most of the sounds aren’t in time with one another, which just makes everything more alarming. It makes each enemy more frightening, but is also a great reflection of the overarching villain, whose imposing nature has infected the land above.

#6: “Drowning” Theme

“Sonic the Hedgehog” Series (1991-)

If there were ever a song guaranteed to stress any player out, it’s the “Drowning” theme from the “Sonic the Hedgehog” Series. While Mario could happily swim underwater without issues, Sega took a different route for their platforming mascot. Any underwater level struck fear into the hearts of all of us; falling into a pool, we’d immediately begin looking for a way out. If you heard this song, you had about 15 of the most fraught seconds in gaming to find an air bubble before the little hedgehog perished. Our original Top 10 had the Final Boss music from the US release of “Sonic CD,” a surprisingly disturbing track. But this song earns its spot for traumatizing an entire player base.

#5: “Final Hours”

“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” (2000)

“Majora’s Mask” is, by far, the darkest entry in “The Legend of Zelda.” With a horrific moon about to destroy Termina and a masked imp terrorizing its citizens, there are plenty of twisted moments. As the three day loop reaches its close, this forlorn tune will play during Clock Town’s final hours. The hauntingly stirring tones in tandem with the chimes of bells is apocalyptic and hopeless. While you can always rewind the clock, Koji Kondo’s piece still heightens the sense that everything is about to be wiped away. “Zelda” is known for its infectiously catchy music, and we mean it as the highest compliment when we say “Final Hours” is not one we want in our heads.

#4: “Lavender Town”

“Pokémon Red & Blue” (1998)

If a song is so creepy it inspired one of the most well-known gaming urban legends, then you know it deserves some recognition. “Pokémon” rapidly became a pop culture phenomenon thanks to wonderfully designed creatures that acted as our brave companions. Yet, many of us were surprised to make it to Lavender Town, where we were greeted by music that made us feel nothing like a carefree adventurer. Sure, the location is eerie with its tower dedicated to deceased Pokémon. But the town’s theme is so unsettling that it has wormed its way into our subconscious, making us anxious whenever we hear it.

#3: “Witch”

“Left 4 Dead” (2008)

For the most part, as long as you have your allies, you can make it through just about any encounter in “Left 4 Dead” and its sequel. But there is one Special Infected that will always give us pause, making sure we are entirely prepared to face it: The Witch. You’ll find her crying randomly in any given level, though as soon as you get close to her, she strikes with shocking ferocity. Her music is the perfect complement. The nonsensical vocals and fast piano notes are creepy, but the explosion of percussion that signals her attack will undoubtedly get your heart racing.

#2: “Giygas”

“EarthBound” (1995)

Giygas is one of the most memorable bosses in any Nintendo game, and not just because of its evil nature and spooky design. The song that is paired with this final encounter is just as disturbing as the villain, if not more so. For most of the track, there aren’t any discernible instruments to pick out. Otherworldly muttering, static, wind blowing, and frantic beeps and boops comprise the majority. It’s as if Nintendo found the perfectly random noises to throw together, making for an entirely uncomfortable concoction. Giygas is a deeply dark final boss, so it’s only natural that his theme gets under our skin.

#1: “River Twygz Bed”

“Super Paper Mario” (2007)

Okay, what the hell Nintendo? First you scarred us with the Haunted House level’s music in “Super Mario 64”. Then, you put what sounds like demons chanting backwards into “Super Paper Mario.” The River Twygz is said to be filled with the tears of sinners, so it was already off to a good start. But if you go swimming in it, you’ll find it gets far more disturbing. It’s filled with invincible, skeletal enemies called Underhands, but its music is definitely its creepiest aspect. Other than the blood–curdling vocals, it features eerie noises we can’t quite place. But it truly sounds like a nightmare.
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