10 amazing videogame water themesImmerse yourself in this collection of marvellously moist melodies
Water is an ever-present environmental feature in games. We ride the waves on oceans, rivers and lakes. We explore its murky depths in submarines. We even explore whole towns built on the splashy stuff.
It’s an interesting challenge for composers - with water areas so ubiquitous, will their track sink or swim? We listened to some of Square Enix’s greatest soundtracks to find 10 themes that we think made waves.
Over the waves - FINAL FANTASY XV
FINAL FANTASY XV opens with Prince Noctis and his entourage on their way to Altissia for his wedding. Except the city’s over the sea and due to… certain events, the boats are cancelled.
The adventures that follow are arduous and full of danger for the boys, so when they finally get on a boat to the big city - and to the prince’s love - it’s a dramatic, cathartic moment.
That feeling of triumph is emphasised by this soaring track. It reflects both the wide expanse of the ocean and the sense of hope that are heroes are feeling.
Secret of the Deep Sea - FINAL FANTASY VII
From over the waves to under them.
At a key point in FINAL FANTASY VII, Cloud and friends get access to a submarine - and open up a whole new area beneath the waves.
This flowing, slightly hypnotic track emphasizes the tranquility and beauty of this undersea world. It can be genuinely relaxing to simply float around, and soak in the quiet, peaceful vibe.
Well, at least until you discover the Gelnika - a sunken Shinra plane full of unbelievably vicious enemies, all eager to deliver a tidal wave of pain to unprepared submariners.
Or you run straight into Emerald Weapon - and it wipes out your party with a well-timed stomp.
You know what? As lovely as this track is, I think we’ll head back to the surface.
Beyond the Deep Blue Sea - FINAL FANTASY V
FINAL FANTASY VII wasn’t the first game in the series to take the adventure into the briny deep.
In FINAL FANTASY V, you’ll travel in a sub down to the Great Underwater Trench - a sprawling cave full of undead beasts, bubbling lava and ancient tablets.
The track, Beyond the Deep Blue Sea, provides the perfect audio backdrop to this undersea adventure. While it features a very similar motif to FINAL FANTASY VII, it has a slightly faster pace that emphasizes the urgency of the heroes’ task.
The Captain - Man of the Sea - Xenogears
The Thames is a massive ship that operates as a floating city. It’s captained by the fiercely bearded figure known - appropriately enough - as ‘The Captain’.
And He Is.
Of the Sea!
The sheer unashamed bravado of the Captain is a thing to behold - and it’s captured perfectly in this bold, rhythmic piece of music.
Xenogears has one of the most eclectic and memorable soundtracks of any RPG, that’s on full display in this gloriously bold track. It skillfully captures the spirit of the ocean with brashness of the man who knows that’s exactly where he belongs.
Underwater Ruins - FINAL FANTASY X
Fans will always argue over which FINAL FANTASY game you should start with, or which is the best. But I think there’s one thing we can all agree on - FINAL FANTASY X is the wettest game in the series.
Large stretches of the adventure take place underwater - heroes Tidus, Wakka and Rikku are as comfortable floating beneath the waves as they are walking around on their own two feet.
In one early section, Tidus is rescued by a group of Al Bhed, and… encouraged to help them explore some the Underwater Ruins. This ambient track uses sound effects and echo to create an intense, almost claustrophobic sense of submersion.
A few minutes and you feel like you want to burst free from this dank oppressive atmosphere - but in the best possible way.
Blitz off - FINAL FANTASY X
As if we could include only one piece from FINAL FANTASY X.
Blitzball is a way of life in the world Spira. This sport - sort of a cross between football and basketball - takes place almost entirely underwater, with players competing in giant watery spheres.
Anyone who digs into this side activity in the game will become intimately familiar with this awesome theme. Its catch guitar riffs and pounding drums can’t help but make you feel fired up for the match ahead.
Guardian of the Water 1 - Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!
The soundtrack to Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! is essentially a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole. It takes existing music from earlier games and remixes them in fascinating ways.
Take the theme used in the Water Temple, for example. Guardian of Water 1 is a new take on the Dungeon theme from FINAL FANTASY II. It retains the same dark, spooky atmosphere, but this arrangement adds a feeling of trickling moisture. I genuinely love it.
And on that note a personal PSA: if you’re a fan of FINAL FANTASY music, I urge you listen to this soundtrack. It’s so good.
Boundless Ocean - FINAL FANTASY III
For many, the ocean represents freedom and adventure, and that sensation’s clear in this this absolutely beautiful track from FINAL FANTASY III.
But that sense of scale and opportunity also has a tinge of melancholy, as the heroes of the adventure leave their homeland behind for the first time.
While this track doesn’t appear in the game for very long, it immediately sticks in the mind as one of the most memorable ocean themes in the entire series to date.
I Am the Sea - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online
Ah, Limsa Lominsa! There’s a special feeling when your fresh-faced character enters this bustling marine city-state and you’re immediately greeted by this utterly inspiring theme.
Bombastic, exciting, majestic… there are all sorts of adjectives that we could use to describe it. The music swells and recedes like the tides of the sea—from soaring orchestral melodies to contemplative lulls. It speaks to the power of the sea and the adventures that await you in the realm of Eorzea… and beyond!
Jellyfish Sea - CHRONO CROSS
The ocean is ever-present in CHRONO CROSS. The world is comprised of islands, spread out across a vast body of water. Those willing to explore may find themselves inside the El Nido Triangle.
It’s a mysterious patch of sea with a big secret - an air pocket that lets you run around underneath the surface. And despite the dangers, you’ll definitely want to do so because it means you can listen to this theme.
Jellyfish Sea hits you with waves of tranquility. It’s oddly soothing, and does a great job of accentuating the beauty and expanse of the seabed.
- Get CHRONO CROSS Original Soundtrack Revival Disc
- Listen on Spotify
- Listen on Apple Music
- Listen on Amazon Music
Those are just a few of our favourite water themes, but what about you? Do you have any game music that floats your boat? Let us know in the comments and on social media: