Today, Horizon Zero Dawn‘s full soundtrack became available on Spotify, a full week before it is released anywhere else. In honor of this, the minds and voices behind the game’s music discussed how its essence culminated.
In an interview with PlayStation.Blog, the establishment of the musical collaboration between Niels van der Leest, Joris de Man, The Flight (duo group of Alexis Smith and Joe Henson), vocalist Julie Elven, and Guerrilla Music Supervisor Lucas van Tol was discussed. According to Lucas van Tol, the team had little to go on early in its work on the project.
“When I started working on the music we didn’t have a game to score against, so we decided to focus on Horizon’s three main pillars: machines, tribes, and beautiful nature.
“We started with the tribal music. We asked ourselves, ‘What would a tribe sound like in the future, after they’ve lost most of their culture?’ and also ‘How can we create something that sounds like tribal music, but isn’t necessarily the tribal music we know today?'”
So, Niels van der Leest joined as the game’s composer, bringing his study of percussion instruments to the mix. The team felt it had the ‘tribes’ aspect handled, yet it required the help of additional composers. After all, you can hardly have a soundtrack that’s made up entirely of drums. That’s when Joris de Man came in. Lucas felt he might be a good fit after having worked on Killzone, Killzone 2, and Killzone 3. Joris de Man says he was instantly ready to fill the role of one of the three musical focuses.
“Lucas contacted me and said that they were working on a new game. I was immediately interested because I’d heard that it was going to be different from Killzone.
“The studio set me up with some artwork and a synopsis of what the game was about, and I was quite blown away; the scope was really ambitious, a clear departure from what I’d been used to seeing from Guerrilla.”
With ‘tribes’ and ‘beautiful nature’ covered, the team turned to The Flight, whose previous work had included Alien: Isolation. Joe Henson, of The Flight, says that coming from that title to Horizon was like a breath of familiar, yet fresh air.
“What Lucas was able to show of the project looked amazing. Coming from the dark, claustrophobic atmosphere of Alien: Isolation into the lush, open world of Horizon was incredibly exciting. Although both games belong to the science-fiction genre, they’re almost polar opposites in that respect. Well, apart from both having a strong female lead.”
Shortly after that, Joris de Man had a spark of inspiration for the game’s theme, and what he needed in order to bring that idea to fruition was a female vocalist. Julie Elven joined the team and brought her vision along, as she noted during the interview.
“Our focus was to give a musical voice to Aloy’s emotions through the singing. Aloy’s story tells us about her search for identity, about great loss, but also about the courage to overcome obstacles and to persevere. These aspects were very present for me personally, and in my vocal work I aimed to express both the vulnerable and lonely as well as the strong and resilient facets of Aloy’s internal world.”
In the end, all involved agreed that the collaboration was “a tremendously fun and rewarding experience.”
Are you urging for more Horizon Zero Dawn news? Well, did you know that the developers of Horizon and The Witcher 3 have been trading homages of each other’s protagonists on Twitter?