Spooky Video Game Music: The Nearest Place To Heaven Part 1 and 2 (Phantasy Star Online)

It’s time for me to continue my Spooky Video Game Music, and what better way to continue it than with a double feature? I’ll probably post maybe… Five of these this year? I want to do this yearly.

So. Phantasy Star Online. A definite classic that has earned itself a spot as one of my favorite games and one of several games I consider to be ‘art’ (alongside it, the first Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, among others). It’s a game that seems to touch my heart every time I play it, and I would say the unique, ambient soundtrack is a big contributor to that.

But this is a post focusing on the spooky, and not the game as a whole, so I’ll stop before I ramble in the wrong direction.

First, a bit of context. Prior to reaching the area where these two tracks play, the players (or just player, if you ignored the ‘Online’ in the title and didn’t play with anyone else) have been exploring some ancient ruins of mysterious origin and filled with bizarre monsters. The final area of the Ruins, however, is weirdly organic compared to the first two areas, which only serves to make it more disturbing.

And then you reach the teleporter at the end, and you’re transported to… a field. A peaceful field of green, a crystal blue sky, and a peculiar obelisk in the distance.

Part 1 plays. It’s a peaceful theme, fitting the area it plays. Only, like the area itself, the track is not all it seems.

Turn up the volume. Put some headphones on. And listen. The chirping of the birds? Playing on a loop, and it’s not hard to catch the sound of the tape rewinding and starting it over. To say nothing of the more obvious distortion effects that become clear after a few seconds.

Someone years ago pointed out that if you really pay attention, you’ll hear a siren, a scream, and gunshots, the latter of which being the soft pattering noise that the guns in the game itself make so if you’re listening for a real gunshot, you’ll miss it. I can make out the gunshots and the siren (I think), but I’ve yet to really hear the scream. But then I suppose I’m probably listening for the wrong sound.

Regardless, you understand now, don’t you?

This isn’t real. This peace… is not actually peace, but a facade hiding something much more sinister. The very reason this godforsaken planet was chosen as a new home to begin with.

The game gives you nothing to do except approach the ominous obelisk, and when you do, everything changes. The sky darkens, the green field is overtaken by skull-like faces writhing in agony as a new type of monster emerges, spinning and cutting into you with blades.

Part 2 plays during this. I personally don’t find it as unnerving as Part 1 (it’s more epic than disturbing), but it’s still quite intimidating and certainly effective in-game. It further enforces the point that you are not supposed to be here. This is a place mortals were not meant to be. A place of suffering and death.

And once you defeat the blade monsters, well… You’ll have to finally face IT. Dark Falz. The God of Destruction.

But that’s a story for another time, isn’t it?

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