Experience Points: Child Of Light Is A Great Study In Audio Design
In my review for Child Of Light, I only explored the game’s audio design in subtle detail. I never mentioned any points about why the audio design was excellent. Before I actually begin to discuss the audio design of the game, I just wanted to say that I am by no means an audio engineer or a musician of any kind. But I feel that the lack of focus on the importance of audio design in many reviews is a factor that should be brought up as a point of discussion. I thought it would be interesting to use a recent example such as Child Of Light. The game is a great example of how good audio design is achieved in a game.
Many AAA games and games from major publishers have the funding to afford some of the latest and greatest composers. They help development teams to supplant their games with aural prowess, and the result is often more than not, phenomenal. Child Of Light is a pertinent example of excellent audio design and particularly in the case of its musical composition.
The video above demonstrates the lengths to which Ubisoft Montreal went to perfecting audio design in Child Of Light. The game really owes much not only to strong visual aesthetics and a choice art style, but also its musical composition which pushes Child Of Light above and beyond the norm. The game’s composer was artist Cœur de pirate, real name Béatrice Martin, whose approach to Child Of Light brought soul and depth to the game’s musical composition.
Cœur de pirate herself played piano from a very young age and is a well-known Francophone artist within Canada, the United States and other French-speaking regions of the world. Her youthful style of piano playing livens up the composition of Child Of Light and brings an interesting aural dynamic to the fore, as in parts of the game the piano pieces lend themselves to the melancholic feel the game peaks in at times. This melancholic atmosphere is never fully sustained throughout the whole experience, but is does remain an underlying force in the musical composition. Moments of tension in the game are heightened by not only a change in tone of the piano composition, but also by the inclusion of beautiful orchestral support that lifts Child Of Light beyond what you would initially expect.
Another facet of audio design that I think is not appreciated as much is the role of the Foley artist, audio specialists that recreate “realistic ambient sounds” that a form of entertainment may require in post-production. This artistic process is applicable both to films and videogames. In Child Of Light, as shown in the video above, one sees the game’s Foley artist attempting to create wind sounds with a variety of objects, finally settling on the sounds made from a flower. The lengths to which Foley artists go in order to obtain the perfect sound effects to match a game are incredible.
We never normally think about these types of processes that go on behind the scenes in game development. Gamers are normally concerned with graphics or the resolution capabilities present within current generation consoles. But to talk about the importance of elements in game design, such as audio design, is essential. Appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes in the development of games helps us to appreciate not only good games, but also to call out games that charge a premium whilst being products of bad game development practices.