As we near the October 30 release of Call of Cthulhu, we’re taking a closer look at the game’s development through a series of Devblogs, each presented by a different member of Cyanide Studio’s team. Today, we’re joining Lead Sound Designer Swann Ménage as he tells us more about Call of Cthulhu’s sounds.
Hello! I'm Swann, Lead Sound Designer on Call of Cthulhu. I work for a company called G4F, which is specialized in sound design for video games. I'm in charge of the audio identity of the game: sounds, music and voices.
What we wanted to do with Call of Cthulhu is to creep you out with sound. One of the key ways to achieve that is to primarily keep things realistic, so you feel safe - until we add an unnerving sound that frightens you! However, we’ve tried to avoid ‘horror movie scary spooky’ sound design and jumpscares. We aimed at an oppressive atmosphere.
Some parts of the game are really diegetic-based, meaning that everything you hear comes from what you see. We also tried to mess a bit with how music and diegetic sounds blend together. Sometimes, you won't really be able to tell if what you're hearing is something from the environment, a music, or a hallucination. We hope that players will sometimes ask themselves "did I really just hear that?"
Here is an extract of what we created for the Hawkins mansion with regards to sound design.
Some of what you hear is really happening - thunder, wood creaking, rain, etc. - while others are there to freak you out a bit.
This entire soundscape is randomly generated: wood creaks from within the manor, weird unknown sounds spinning around you, lightning strikes with the sounds of thunder following on a random delay, and more.
We tried a lot fun stuff, especially when Pierce is dreaming or gets hallucinations. During one sequence, you'll hear something I named the "Dream Generator". A lot of dream-like sounds spawn randomly all around the player, creating a weird threnody.
During the first dream of Pierce, in the introduction, we tried to play with the boundaries between his dream and reality. If you listen closely, you'll be able to hear a distorted, dreamy, stretched version of what's playing on his radio when he wakes up.
Of course, this has all involved teamwork! Markus Schmidt did the music, G4F helped me, and Renaud was our Foley artist. SIDE, a London-based recording studio, was in charge of recording all voices.
Call of Cthulhu is narrative-driven, meaning pretty big recording sessions as you can imagine. Everything occurs near Boston, and recreating the 1920's Boston accent wasn't easy.
We focused on the acting of our characters and how the fall into madness affects their tones (panic, anger, confusion, etc...)
We also recorded a SoundBank (that we call the "ScreamBank") just for this game: mad wails, sick people, weird women, running madmen, locked prisoners... we recorded all of them.
On my side, I had to integrate all these voices and occasionally modify them. As an example, here is how I did the voice that follows your journey into madness.
We hope you'll enjoy Call of Cthulhu as much as we did developing (and sound designing!) it.
Stay tuned for more Devblogs soon! Call of Cthulhu releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on October 30. Digital and retail preorders are available on PC and consoles.