In Soundfall, you play as one of five musical heroes transported to a far-off world to defend music itself from the forces of Discord.
Soundfall is a rhythm-based twin-stick shooter that is procedurally generated to music. Players are thrust into a familiar control setup and visual, that of a top-down hack-and-slash, with one huge twist: actions performed on the beat are way more powerful. Lose the beat, and you lose power.
The result is equal parts frantic and meditative, as players find a balance between keeping track of their enemies and acting in time with the music in a world that grooves and bounces to that same music.
Sound on for this gameplay clip
Soundfall’s heroes–Melody, Jaxon, Lydia, Brite and Ky–are musical geniuses from Earth, transported to Symphonia, the World of Music, via the mysterious Soundfall. Each character has their own special attack and ultimate ability tied to their personal Instrument of Harmony–ancient musical weapons capable of beating back the forces of Discord.
That won’t be an easy task, even for the five of them. The forces of Discord are led by Banshee, Discord’s most cunning lieutenant, and she brings with her a terrifying assortment of Discordians, evil creatures bent on wrecking music wherever they find it. Players will have to defeat the Discordians in each world before music can be saved.
While all of Soundfall can be played solo, with five characters, co-op options are extensive. Soundfall offers remote and couch co-op, and the entire game can be played cooperatively, from the campaign to the free-play mode.
Being originally from Italy, I experienced Sergio Leone’s westerns before I had any idea about Akira Kurosawa’s movies. Of course once I knew that those westerns were heavily influenced by Japanese samurai cinema from the 50s and 60s, I had to experience them for myself. That’s how I fell in love with Kurosawa – probably through Seven Samurai, specifically – during my first year at college. The realism and direct, raw, representation of how life used to be, the care for composition, and performances that connect on a human level rather than being culturally-dependent, were all fascinating to me. Of course, after watching Hidden Fortress it was also very clear to me where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg got a lot of inspiration from, and for good reason.
So, how did this discovery end up inspiring a video game all these years later? Initially, the gameplay I had in mind was the main reason I wanted to make Trek to Yomi, but with that aspect eventually taken care of by Flying Wild Hog, my attention turned to the atmosphere and overall visual direction, as well as ensuring that the game was as authentic as possible not only to the cinematic references we were using, but also to the Edo period and Japanese Samurai culture.
Some aspects where detail was key were the rain, the fire, the look that everything had when you see it in black and white. Some of the movies that inspired me to do this were actually not even Japanese. Buster Keaton and movies from the 1920s-1930s were a big inspiration because they’re reminiscent of 2.5D sidescrollers, which made me want to make this game really badly. Orochi had some scenes that made me think “I need to make this happen interactively, that would be insane!”
While there are many iconic scenes in the classic Samurai movies that inspired many of the decisions we made in terms of shot choice, I’m especially proud of the way the main town was built. The Dojo on top of the stairs overseeing the whole main setting, the village inside of the walls, and the outskirts with the fields around the main castle were all things that I wanted to include to give a very good sense of geography while subtly showing how the countryside towns worked at that time. Using that basis we then spent hours composing shots that not only looked cool but influenced the way the player moves through the world, giving them a sense of how the town is before and after the demons burn it to the ground. Each enter and exit point was carefully thought out so that the player would hopefully notice clearly where everything was.