House of Ashes – the sound of horror comes to life – PlayStation Blog
Welcome to this new blog about our upcoming game, House of Ashes! I’m Barney Pratt, sound director for Supermassive Games. Today I’m going to explain more broadly our cinematic approach to music for this game and TV series – scary, shocking, and how we developed a signature motif that can span space and time.
Each of Dark Pictures Anthology’s games has a completely different storytelling and thus has a completely different soundtrack. Whether it’s character themes, location themes, subconscious cues, or deliberate misdirections, music is the most powerful sound element to follow and guide broader narrative arcs as the story unfolds.
We use a hybrid system of musical tricks from films and games to completely immerse the player in the cinematic experience of Dark Pictures. Each moment of each level has individual musical cues to match exactly the action, tension, intrigue, fear, or fear not only for that particular event, but for each related event in the wider story arc. We need to provide a smooth, cinematic musical journey through all the choices, paths, dilemmas, and key turning points in history.
The style of music originates in the story. In The Man of Medan, we looked at “youth,” the swaying waves of the sea that dictated the size and brutality of things to come. In Little Hope, we took a historical approach to explore the 1692 New England tools. These lonely solo instruments played like mourning the dark times of the Salem witches’ trials, and it was a huge challenge to create cinematic horror game mechanics with such a subtle and limited score. The theme of the protagonist of “Little Hope” was no exception. Jason Graves, the show’s composer, composed a simple six-note tune on an antique piano that in itself provided such an in-depth explanation of the protagonist’s role in the story and a clue to the outcome (no spoilers!).
Jason Graves’ sorcery
Working closely with Jason as early as possible was vital to consolidate the results. We have a very close collaborative relationship, and when it came to House of Ashes, we knew we needed a signature sound that represented the repetitive reappearance of a key storytelling element across time zones, cultures, and locations broader than ever. experienced. We needed a simple phrase, rolling, diving, swinging, warning, something that could be played on multiple instruments, in different keys and at different tempo, layered, transformed and repetitive, but never identical, but still representing this signature sound.
Assault – modern orchestra
The signature sound started out very organically, the low cooing of a dove, and over time it evolved into an element played on instruments synonymous with Sumerian culture, through orchestral horror and down to a synthesized arrangement that is a hint of technology. promotion. The play opens in a historical setting some 2,000 years ago, and as horror begins to develop, we move on to timeless orchestral instruments. Later, when there is an additional twist in the narrative, we move on to synthesizers to emphasize the implementation for the player.
Eclipse – Sumerian version
Bloodbath – modern orchestra with synthetic layers
Into The Light – Synthesizer Version – Futuristic
As with every musical cue, each jump fear is created individually to match the moment and sensation we want to evoke – the approach, the fear, the level and the force of the bite. In the case of House of Ashes, inspired by the new haptic feedback features available on the PS5’s DualSense wireless controller, we’ve taken a step to bring those intimidating moments closer to the player. We worked hard to ensure that the action was straight forward on screen and didn’t want to interrupt player interactions. However, thanks to the power and versatility of the new haptic feedback on the DualSense controller, we had the ability to literally shock the player with an extra feeling – a touch! Just for the short time the jump fear is at its peak, the high-intensity moment of the bite, combined with tactile feedback, heightens the fear. This has been a huge progress for us, and the feedback from the players has been incredible, adding more meaning and dimension to this core horror mechanic.
We also use tactile sensations to heighten drama, explosions, gunfire, and timeout reminders. It’s a language that follows action, whether in-game or to improve feedback from gameplay, and heightens concerns about performance. Where there is drama, tactile feedback responds.
I hope you enjoyed this take on the sound world of Dark Pictures and the way sound and sound are used to terrify players. House of Ashes is due out on October 22nd and we can’t wait for all of you to play it! If you want to try the soundscape of the game, soundtrack available today on Spotify…