Every year I scope out the show floor at EGX for any stands with headphones and go on the listen out for games that have the best of audio, whether it’s music, sound design, voice acting or just an overall immersive soundscape, I’m there for it. Here’s some games we think you might like to watch out for, for the audio experience:
Ok so this one is a bit of a wildcard in here, and I’m going to open with it because it’s just so different. Unknown Number is a game played through a series of interactive phone calls, where the player gets sucked into an eco-heist and has to use their phone to make decisions throughout the game. Want to hear the real reason this is so innovative? YOUR voice is the controller. Yep. Daunting as it may sound to anyone who doesn’t necessarily want to be seen talking to a computer in the middle of a crowded EGX, it works surprisingly well. Before long I was playing noughts and crosses…”CROSS IN THE MIDDLE”…it ended in a draw. Then I was pledging my allegiance to a pretty shady organisation asking me to sacrifice things I didn’t want to sacrifice but I went along with it out of social awkwardness. The cool thing about the game is the sound design was done by brother to developer Thomas Keane, Finn Keane, and they used voice actors for the game, so it really has a lot going on for a small team!
This is a game I pretty much expected to like from the name, and was proved very right after finding it and watching Spencer’s game demo on the Rezzed Stage. Rhythm Towers is a tower defence game – think DJ Hero meets that bit in Brutal Legend where you’re an overlord and can direct the Headbangers what to attack next. During gameplay, you place towers to represent different parts of the soundtrack (drums, bass, melody etc) and each one of these has specific abilities (such as fireballs or electro attacks). So there’s some strategy to what you have to place to best take care of the oncoming enemies, but to place each tower you have to play in the part with your controller. The most impressive thing about this game is it’s all created by one person: Spencer Beckford. It’s great fun and the game has so much potential, it’s very exciting to see what it will achieve in the future!
Here’s a game from the Leftfield collection for those into the really experimental games, and those pushing boundaries even in early stages of development. This game is very much an audio experience where you fly through a flat shaded environment to collect audio elements that create visual tails. They branch out into 3D space and once you fly through and listen to a certain amount, a ball of light or dark is created that will then herald the next level. The sound overall is quite experimental and disjointed but has some parts particularly with the planets with dotted rings surrounding them, where the layers come together more and fade between tracks nicely. It’s an interesting idea but I really wanted just a thread that connected each pool of audio, to make the experience that much more cohesive. I did like the overall feel and sound, and fully appreciate anything doing something different to encourage focused listening and exploration without a set goal.
There’s an incredible amount of Sonic games in existence, from the original platformer to wild and wonderful iterations, some more successful than others but all with that iconic ring pickup sound! Sonic is a game with such a strong audio identity it’s always interesting how the soundtrack is approached. As someone who grew up with SEGAAAA being sung at me before the much loved theme starts, it’s hard to adjust to anything else. In Sonic Frontier it feels like it’s drawing more from the film world with an orchestral score and the presence of voice acting for Sonic and Tails as they get separated. However then we move into an open world experience where we can explore and there is much more of an ambient, relaxing underscore to the level. It’s definitely a departure from “Gotta go fast” and a big change of pace from the usual Sonic games.
A roguelike deck builder card game, set in the icy winds of the Tundra provides a bit of a different setting to a lot of other games on the show floor. Composer Paul Zimmerman does a lovely job of creating frosty folk music, that is uplifting and engaging with lots of flutes, but can change pace at a moments notice depending on the how your card skills are! The sound design by Felix Barbarino also sits really nicely with satisfying swooshes and clicks as we get stuck into the gameplay (I also really enjoyed breaking the ice between games to reveal a card, it’s just audibly rewarding!). Certainly worth your time if this is your kind of game.
Asides from being a really fun game to play with your friends, it also sounds great. The music by Billy Palmer is really fun and quirky but sounds very polished and fits the gameplay without ever taking the limelight away from the intense action of trying to find your friends and punch them before they get you! The sound design by Henry Scott is also really satisfying, especially with the robots being uncovered with every punch, and again just fits the game well and make the entire experience cohesive, supporting gameplay while letting the chaos of up to 8 players trying to work out what’s going on at any given time, ensue!
Vox Vs The Void
My favourite part of this dev team is that they had brought a massive handmade axe/keytar themselves to wander around with. The game itself is a 2.5D indie platformer based around a main character with a keytar as their main weapon. Musical puzzles help us progress as we place back pieces of music into a giant altar. The soundtrack has quite a retro vibe to it and definitely feels like a Metroid style game sonically. We’re keen to see how it all comes together!