Welcome to this new blog about our forthcoming game—House of Ashes! I’m Barney Pratt, audio director here at Supermassive Games. Today I am going to explain our cinematic approach to the music for this game and the series more widely – the scares, the shocks, and how we developed a signature motif that can span space and time.
Each of the Dark Pictures Anthology games has a completely different narrative, and as such has a completely different soundtrack. Whether it is character themes, location themes, subconscious clue giving or deliberate misdirection, the music is the strongest audio element to follow and drive the wider narrative arcs as the story develops.
We use a hybrid system of film and game music techniques to fully immerse the player in the cinematic experience of the Dark Pictures. Each moment of each level has bespoke music cues to precisely frame-match the action, suspense, intrigue, fear or dread not only for that precise event, but also for each related event over the wider story arc. We need to deliver a seamless cinematic musical journey through all of the choices, paths, dilemmas and key turning points of the story.
The style of music originates from the story. For Man of Medan we looked at “youth”, the swaying waves of the sea which dictated the time signature and the fierce, violent brutality of events to come. For Little Hope we took a historical approach, researching the instruments of 1692 New England. These lonely solo instruments played as a lament to the dark times of the Salem witch trials and it was a huge challenge to deliver the cinematic mechanics of a horror game with such a thin and constrained score. The theme for the main character in Little Hope was no exception. Jason Graves, the composer for the series, composed a simple six note motif on an aged piano which in itself offered such a deep explanation of the lead character’s part in the story and clues to the outcome (no spoilers!).
Witchcraft by Jason Graves