For a horror series, Resident Evil can be oddly comforting. It’s true that the games ask you to explore dimly lit, curiously furnished structures overrun with hungry T-Virus, G-Virus, and C-Virus patients. And they do like to shake you up with jump scares, exploding mutant growths, creaky doors, and ugly paintings. But when the first game set down the survival horror formula, it included one enduringly chill element: the mostly safe space of the save room, which had its own melancholy theme.
The relief of reaching a save room typewriter, ink ribbon in hand, is so firmly imprinted on the minds of old Resident Evil players that the following tunes may send blocky PS1-era tears rolling down your huge polygonal face:
There was no room for the save room in the all-action Resident Evil 5 and 6, but it moodily returns to the new Resident Evil 7, trading the typewriter for a cassette player and the piano for some kind of warped Louisiana guitar. Then again, the save room themes have always been prone to mutation, as an illuminating breakdown by Giant Bomb user Yummylee shows. Looking beyond the Resident Evil 2 and 4 classics, Yummylee digs up obscurities like Dead Aim’s synth-heavy track and Resident Evil Director’s Cut Dual Shock Ver.’s music box take. (Dual Shock Ver. was, incidentally, the Resident Evil soundtrack referred to in those wild news stories about Japan’s “deaf” composer.) Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami even took the save room with him when he created the Dino Crisis series:
Mikami never stopped making horror games filled with save rooms and ethereal music loops. The Evil Within (2014) leads players to the glowing mirrors that work as save points with an instantly recognizable melody. Instead of an original composition, the game uses “Clair de lune” from Debussy’s Suite bergamasque—or, as it will now be known to history, “The Evil Within Save Room Theme.”