You walk your character into a setting where you can't see all of it. Maybe there's cover, maybe it's maze-like, maybe it's just dark. But you KNOW there are bad guys around because the music kicks up. You kill all the mooks you see, but you know you're not free yet, cause the music hasn't stopped. When you finally kill that last hiding mook, the music peters out and you calm down. Music Radar in effect.
Basically Musical Spoiler meets Variable Mix
. Subtrope of Sound-Coded for Your Convenience
- Legend of Zelda:
- Seen in the later games. Can lead to Paranoia Fuel if you don't know where the enemies are and the music telling you they're still alive, compounded by the fact that Link will stare in the direction of the remaining enemies.
- In a cool subversion, Ocarina of Time uses this in Lost Woods to guide you. Follow the music to Saria/Forest Temple.
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations plays an ominous Scare Chord whenever a Stalker tries to sneak up on Ezio.
- Mass Effect: You know you've cleared a map once the battle music stops.
Real Time Strategy
- The Deus Ex series features this, although in it's functionality it more works for the enemy, since the music only changes when they see you.
- The FEAR games also did this.
- Left 4 Dead uses songs as a warning that a zombie horde or Special Infected is nearby. You can cause severe Soundtrack Dissonance by modding in custom songs.
- Bioshock Infinite. A specific musical theme plays whenever you're attacked (or about to be attacked) by opponents. The music continues until all opponents are killed, after which another brief piece of music indicates the end of the fight. Clever players can use this as both an early warning system and a warning that there are still hidden enemies present.
- In the original Syndicate game, a more sinister track replaces the standard background music when an enemy agent is nearby.
- A variant in the Silent Hill games; static will rise in the protagonist's radio if monsters are nearby. This is meant to be nerve-wracking in a misty setting where they could be anywhere and anything, but it tends to result in Nightmare Retardant because it means they can't sneak up on you... usually.
- In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you can tell when a monster is nearby because ominous drums will begin to play. Once the monster is gone, the music stop playing.
- The fourth Alone in the Dark (not the three first) also did this.
- In Plants vs. Zombies, the song will pick more instruments and the music will become more intense when a big zombie wave occurs.
- The Elder Scrolls games work this way; they replace ambient music with combat music when there are hostile creatures nearby.