Based in Phoenix, Arizona
Release Date :
Reviewed on PC
We at The Sound Architect are very excited to say that we had the pleasure of trying out the new indie game “Gravity Ghost” from Ivy Games due out next year. We discuss the sounds and music as well as speak to the game’s composer/sound designer Ben Prunty.
In Gravity Ghost you play as a young girl who has the ability to use any planet’s gravitational pull to soar through the galaxy to other planets. The goal of each level is to find Stars that open the doorways to other planets. The ultimate goal is to save the survivors of a shattered galaxy. There are also many power-ups to pick up along the way. Affectionately referred to as “The Little Indie Mario Galaxy that Could.” By Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku, Gravity Ghost brings a lot to the audio table for an indie game.
Isolation is the first word that springs to mind when listening to the soundtrack in Gravity Ghost. However I would like to coin the phrase, which has probably already been coined, “euphoric isolation”. Loneliness, cold, sad. These are the words usually associated with the word isolation. These are not the emotions brought to mind when listening to the soundtrack of Gravity Ghost. I find the music to be in some places very reminiscent of some of the pieces from the Silent Hill Soundtracks. Although a completely opposite genre, I still find the similar pieces “hauntingly beautiful”, another phrase I’m known to use. The sounds and music in Gravity Ghost fill you with a sense of letting go of real life. This is the isolation I refer to. It inspires the feeling of being detached from the world, which is very apt considering your flying through space!
The music includes a variety of instrumentation, such as guitar, orchestra, drums, synths and more. It’s complete lack of restrictions on genre or style really emphasize it’s other-worldly “out there” sound. It is very impressive how many different instruments are used, yet you still don’t feel overwhelmed by the activity and it doesn’t sound messy or too busy.
The SFX in Gravity Ghost compliment the music and soundscapes perfectly, using Foley and instrument sounds as opposed to the clichéd blips and bloops. The use of bells and effects, especially reverb, really add to the size and loneliness of space. Personally, I really like the sounds that the “bubble” planets make when they pop/shatter. They do actually sound like a mix between bubble-wrap and a synthesized shatter. For the soundscapes themselves, the clever use of night time sounds adds to the peaceful isolation, although a little unorthodox for space, it works!
We spoke to Sound Designer and Composer for Gravity Ghost, Ben Prunty.
What was your inspiration when writing the music and creating the sound design for Gravity Ghost?
Erin and I both have a love for the unabashedly weird, so she gave me some initial direction with some music that she liked and then just let me go nuts. The eclectic and energetic soundtrack of EarthBound has been a big inspiration, but Gravity Ghost is a bit more lonely feeling.
What one word would you say sums up your approach to the audio in Gravity Ghost?
For FTL I said “no orchestra”. For this secret Robot Invader project I said “no synthesizers”. Gravity Ghost is probably the only soundtrack I’ve done where I haven’t ruled out any instrument. My end goal is to fill the listener with wonder. So that’s probably the word for it. For the sound effects, I’ve tried to stay away from obvious cartoon-y sounds and going more toward the Foley style I remember hearing in British cartoons. I also try to make a lot of musical sounds as well. I think it fits the colorful art style.
Did any games influence you in the creation of the music and SFX?
Besides the aforementioned EarthBound, I’d say my love for OCRemix has fueled Gravity Ghost’s sound a bit. My favorite tracks from OCRemix were always the crazy explosions of creative energy with a disregard for genre. I’m trying to bring that carefree energy to Gravity Ghost.
What was your biggest challenge on the Gravity Ghost project?
Actually, just reigning in and mixing such a variety of instruments has probably been the most difficult part. It’s really easy for all the instruments to just sound like a mess when all thrown together.
What software/plugins did you use?
I wrote a whole article on that very subject! Check it out here:
The gist of it is that I use Cubase as my digital audio workstation, and then a ton of virtual instruments from Native Instruments, augmented by many other instruments from various groups like 8Dio and Impact Soundworks. I bought a lot of different bell collections for Gravity Ghost.
How did it compare with your previous projects?
Gravity Ghost feels different for me because it’s much closer to simple, raw expression, rather than a calculated, deliberate sound like my other projects. With no real limitations on genre or instrumentation I can just sort of experiment and focus on making something fun and interesting.
Leaving us with a sense of wonder, we very much look forward to the release of Gravity Ghost next year. We leave you with this gameplay footage to tickle your earbuds and give you a glimpse of the beautiful sounds.
Gravity Ghost is available for preorder on PC, Mac, and Linux NOW at gravityghost.com. The game will be $14.99 at launch but for a limited time you can preorder it for $9.99. You can also pre-order the soundtrack for 40% off.