House of Ashes and the Science of Sound


  • Discover the cinematic approach that music is taken to create it. House of Ashes.
  • The Dark Pictures is an intricate hybrid of film-game music techniques that allows the player to completely immerse themselves in the cinematic experience.
  • House of AshesIt is now available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S on the Xbox Store.

You are now viewing this section about House of AshesS.|S on the Xbox Store! I’m Barney Pratt, Audio Director here at Supermassive Games. Today I’m going to talk about our cinematic approach for music. This includes how we came up with a unique motif that transcends space and time.

All of them Dark Pictures AnthologyGames can be set in a different time period, world and story. We want to provide a different music score. The music, whether it be character themes, locale themes, subconscious clue-giving or deliberate misdirection is the most important audio element that drives moments as well as wider narrative arcs.

Our complex system of hybrid film-game music technology has been developed to immerse you in the dark cinematic world of Dark Pictures. To frame the action on screen, we create and edit custom music cues that match the event. This allows themes to expand, change, and repeat as the story dictates. The challenge is creating seamless musical transitions and flows that seamlessly convey all of the choices, challenges, dilemmas and pivotal turning points in the movie.

House of Ashes

Music styles are influenced by the narrative. This gives us a great buzz when we create new instruments, cues, and themes that work well to tell that story. To learn more, The Man of MedanWe looked at youth and its swaying waves, as well as the brutality, fierceness, and potential consequences of future events. You can read more. Little HopeFlashbacks to 1692’s Salem and Andover Witch Trials brought back memories. We took an historical approach by researching instruments from the era. The lonely instruments were a lament for these dreadful events. It was difficult to convey the cinematic elements of horror games with such a constrained score. However, we stayed true to our direction and used volume and proximity to trigger the terror. This is the main character theme. Little Hope, Jason Graves composed a simple 6 note motif on an aged piano which offered a deep explanation of the lead character’s part in the story and clues to his emotional journey and outcome (no spoilers!This is the final version.

Jason and I collaborate as soon as we can, which is crucial to the strength of our score. The score was a success when it was to House of AshesWe were given a story that contained a clear element and a recurring musical phrase. We called this our ‘signature sound’ which needed to work in multiple music cues, and deliver on a huge emotional range, from something subtle and unnerving to more dramatic situations, representative of the key narrative moments within the game.

At first this was imagined as an organic overlay to the music, and I remember Jason sent through early samples that included a pitched down ‘coo’ from a dove. The larynx of a bird vibrates so quickly that the sound it generates is incredibly pure and survives a lot of manipulation in terms of pitch and stretching in the audio mix, so this was an amazing starting point, however it didn’t give us quite enough control and variety. We knew it had to be simple – subtle and smooth enough to underscore conversations and dialogue but also jarring enough to push fear into the player.

House of Ashes

Jason used the original sample as a template and created a musical arrangement. It was a very simple phrase that Jason used to establish, pitch, dive, lurch, warn, etc. This could be played with multiple instruments in various keys at different times and can be layered and morphed and then repeated but not identically. Every variation matches exactly the fear, dread or power of the narrative element at the moment. However, each variation is still representative of the signature sound used throughout the game, and so it’s easily recognizable.

The simplicity of the arrangement allowed it to be versatile. To give the technique more energy, intrigue and drive we could change its key or tempo.

The overall music and musical progressions of the story were perfectly synchronized. With a percussive soundtrack and a historical setting, the game begins 2000 years ago. As the horror develops, we transition into orchestral instruments that are timeless-horror. Later, when the story reveals an extra twist, the synths will be used to highlight the realization.

House of Ashes

This glimpse into the world of Dark Pictures audio and the process behind creating the soundtracks is a pleasure. House of AshesIt’s available today (October 22nd) and we cannot wait to see you play it!

We appreciate your time.

The Dark Pictures Anthology House of Ashes

Xbox Live

The Dark Pictures Anthology House of Ashes

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.



Dark Pictures Anthology consists of a collection of cinematic, branching horror video games. The story and outcome are determined by the choices you make. House of Ashes 3 is the final game in this series.

In House of Ashes, at the close of the Iraq War, Special Forces hunting for weapons of mass destruction unearth something far deadlier – a buried Sumerian temple containing a nest of unearthly creatures. For them to survive, they will need to forge a brotherhood and ally themselves with the enemies of the world higher.

– Navigate the underworld and escape a terrifying threat
You must fight your way to the top of a Sumerian temple that is buried against the hordes and deadly monsters who have taken you as their prey.

– The enemy of your enemy is your friend
You now have a crew of 2 factions, which rarely meet face to face. Are you able to put aside the rivalries between your characters and work together?

– Don’t play alone
These two highly acclaimed multiplayer modes are now back. You can share your story with friends online or you can aim to reach safety through the 5-player offline pass-thepad mode.

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