10 amazing pieces of videogame forest or jungle music

Once you twig to these great tunes, yew’ll never want to leaf this page.
By Duncan Heaney
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It’s always fascinating to see how different videogame composers interpret similar locations. Previously we looked at desert themes, but this time we’re heading somewhere with much more life: the woods.

Also the copses, forests, jungles… anywhere with lots of trees basically.

Many games take us down root-strewn routes. Be it a spooky trek through the dark, or a relaxing stroll through nature, the music is pivotal in setting the mood - it’s a type of environment that encourages composers to really branch out.

With that in mind, we’ve picked out 10 leafy themes that we particularly like:

Danger in the Forest - FINAL FANTASY IX

When a place is called ‘Evil Forest’ you know it’s not going to be full of rainbows and dancing animals.

Sure enough, this spooky wood in FINAL FANTASY IX is dingy, dangerous, and full of monsters that want to glug down your hit points like a glass of warm milk.

But you don’t need us to describe it - you can just use your own ears. Nobuo Uematsu’s remarkable soundtrack tells you everything you need to know about the area.

My Quiet Forest Home - OCTOPATH TRAVELER

If you’re obsessed with woodland themes, OCTOPATH TRAVELER is a game that will certainly satisfy that (oddly specific) niche. The eight heroes’ adventures take you into the trees quite a few times, but one character’s actually starts there.

The hunter H’aannit lives in the village of S’warkii - a peaceful settlement deep in the heart of the Woodlands. It’s small size means it’s an inviting home, where everyone knows everybody else and the people are mostly happy.

The tranquility of this area is enhanced by the music, which uses piano and strings to create a gentle, slightly wistful sense of place.

Golmore Jungle - FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

The Golmore Jungle is a dangerous place. It’s dark, labyrinthine paths make it easy to get turned around - and considering it’s full of particularly dangerous beasts, that’s not something you want to happen.

It’s also home to the rabbit-eared Viera, who consider ‘the Wood’ sacred. And while not hostile, they don’t exactly welcome outsiders with open arms either.

The threatening nature of the area comes through loud and clear in a constantly shifting track. It features a memorable melody that’s never allowed to fully resolve, creating an atmosphere that’s genuinely unsettling.

The Phantom Forest - FINAL FANTASY VI

The Phantom Forest is a favorite sequence for many fans of FINAL FANTASY VI… for reasons we won’t get into for fear of spoilers (sniff).

But we think one the reasons it’s so beloved is the music. The Phantom Forest theme a particularly beautiful track, a lilting melody that emphasizes mystery, but also, I think, a touch of sadness.

Ophay Forest - ONINAKI

Now, admittedly I’m biased, but I’d genuinely argue that ONINAKI has one of the best videogame soundtracks of 2019. I’m a particular fan of the battle themes, which combine elements of folk, rock and classical music to fantastic effect.

Environmental themes are used more sparingly, but they’re all pretty great too - including the Ophay Forest, an area you’ll visit some way into the game. This short ambient track uses a constantly repeating motif to create a melancholy, surreal effect.

Secret of the Forest - Chrono Trigger

Yasunori Mitsuda’s soundtrack to Chrono Trigger is one of the all-time greats - and this forest theme is a perfect example of why.

The Secret of the Forest is a peaceful track that perfectly coveys the feel of an overgrown forest full of mystery. It features a powerful melody, coupled with a strong bassline - it’s a sound that’s still feels district to this particular game.

By the way, shameless plug time: the new CHRONO TRIGGER Original Soundtrack Revival Disc is now available in the Square Enix Store. This Blu-Ray is an audiovisual trip through the amazing music of the game, combining in-game scenes and music to dramatic effect. Plus it also gives you the MP3s so you can listen on the go.


Shadow Forest - Chrono Cross

This track from the follow up to Chrono Trigger makes for an interesting companion piece to Secret of the Forest.

While it initially seems to be heading for a similar vibe, the addition of vocals deep, and a deep bassy drone turns it into something significantly more intense and oppressive.

Like some of the other forest themes in this list, it’s an oddly hypnotic track - you just want to close your eyes, lie back and let it wash over you.

As with CHRONO TRIGGER, the new CHRONO CROSS Revival Album Blu-Ray is now available on the Square Enix Store. It features the tracks from game, with in-game footage, as well as MP3s to listen on the go. If you're a fan of the game, it's a must-have.

Macalania Woods - FINAL FANTASY X

FINAL FANTASY X presents a very different type of forest. Rather than lush green vegetation, the Macalania Woods are a full of clear springs and rich blue hues. It’s a serene and magical place - appropriate since some of the game’s most emotional scenes happen here.

It’s all helped along by this track - another dreamy piece that uses constant repetition to build a wonderfully hazy vibe.

Civilizations - FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

I’ve heard people say that they’ve wandered around the Rak’tika Greatwood in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers for hours. I can believe it.

The Rak’tika Greatwood theme in the recent expansion is fantastic - and like no other forest theme on this list.

It features a strong vocal melody with interesting la-hee-yrics - ahem I mean lyrics.

That’s supported by pipes, choirs, drums and bass guitar, creating an incredibly catchy track. If you’re like us, you won’t be able stop ‘la-heeing’ to yourself for hours - this track has been compared to the dreaded Baby Shark in terms of earworminess.

You won’t mind though because Civilizations is a rich, full and joyous track that’s as full of life as the Rak’tika Greatwood itself.

A Hopeless Race - FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Every area in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers has an alternate theme that plays at night and that, of course, includes the Rak’tika Greatwood.

This track reinterprets the above track - Civilizations - as a tranquil piano piece. Not only does it have a much more chilled out vibe, the elements of jazz are much more pronounced too. And yet it also perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being in a forest in the dead of night.


Those were just some of our favorite forested themes, but what are yours? Share your tips in the comments or on social media:

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2 CommentsTo leave a comment, login or join the community.
Jandroid93
LA-HEE! Final Fantasy XIV's Rak'tika Greatwood definitely had to be mentioned here. It's a really great track. I just really wish that these tracks are available to be streamed in Google Play Music.
CharismaPotion
Nothing from FFXI? Surprised with the great tunes like Jeweled Boughs and Ronfaure being in there. No accounting for taste, I guess.