Music is almost always important in video games, but in horror games the wrong music can destroy the mood and break the tension. Frictional’s upcoming bio-horror game SOMA is no different.
For SOMA, Frictional went with longtime partner Mikko Tarmia, who worked on the studio’s Penumbra and Amnesia games.
Where Amnesia took place well over a century ago, though, SOMA is a more futuristic, mechanical experience. In this video, Tarmia shows off some of the hardware he uses to make the inhuman sound that help make SOMA such an unsettling experience, even in the short gameplay sequences we’ve seen. Tarmia shows off a Doepfer A-100 modular synthesizer to start with. This is one of the most popular pieces of machinery in electronic music, being used by composers like Deadmau5 and Trent Reznor. In the lower part of the panel, though, he has some more unusual modules like the Vulcan modulator and Dalek modulator.
Tarmia makes the actual sound in this video with an electric woodwind device, modifying it with some of the above hardware as well as devices that add reverb and delay. The sound that ends up coming out of the configuration is truly discomforting.
Usually when we see behind-the-scenes content from video game music, its orchestral stuff, so it’s cool to see a different angle on how this stuff is made.
SOMA is set to hit PC and PlayStation 4 on September 22. If you’re curious about the mess of wires Tarmia is working with, the synthesizer documentary I Dream of Wires, currently available on Netflix, is a great place to start.