Immortals: Fenyx Rising is one of my most favourite games of 2020 and anyone looking to get lost in a content-rich open world, I suggest you give it a go. Ubisoft managed to create a fun and eventful game with a deep combat system and loads of puzzles and activities to complete at every turn. You can read my full review of this hidden gem here. One thing you will love about the game is the sound and how the layers of enemy screams, clanging of your weapons and the fantastic soundtrack combine to create a beautiful melody. This helps elevate the magic in the game to another level.
I sat down with the audio director of Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Lydia Andrew to chat about how the team came up with the game’s sounds and some of the methods they used. You will be surprised to know that Immortals: Fenyx Rising was a bigger challenge to the audio team than it seems. Lydia worked on both Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Odyssey but the “fantasy” element in Immortals meant the team had to take a different approach to the game sounds.
What is your day-to-day role as audio director on Immortals: Fenyx Rising
As the audio director on Immortals, I have a few different kinds of hats that I wear. I look after the direction on the music, direction of the voice and direction of the sound effects. I am very lucky that I work with a very talented team of people. I get to look at those three main areas and I also get to discuss the story, the creative direction with the game director. I interact with all the other directors and I work with my team.
I know you worked on both Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Odyssey. How different was creating the environmental sounds in Immortals compared to those games? In specific to the sounds around the player when exploring the world.
The big difference when creating the audio for Immortals in comparison to Assassin’s Creed is that we are working in a very non-realistic world. This is a really lovely change of pace and opportunity for the audio people. You are working in a much more vibrant, animated almost cartoony environment. The world looks very different, the characters are very different and the way things move and behave are very different.
So this was a very interesting challenge for us and it was lovely to just sit down with a clean piece of paper and say “we are in this very mythological world. It’s very vibrant. It’s very animated. The characters move through the world differently. The colours, the shapes, the textures. How are we going to approach this and what layers do we need to bring in”. Typhon is there affecting the world. We need a layer for that. Layers to show the personalities of the different gods you are going to meet. But also layers to support the vegetation you are seeing and also the visual ambience of the place. It was all very different and the sound team really enjoyed that.
Each region in the game has a so-called “sound theme” to it. How did the team come up with these?
So what we do have is pieces of music that are linked to each god that you meet. These express the gods and their personality. They also define the region you are in. When you move from Aphrodite and the lush, beautiful region to an area with a very different aesthetic. We used the music to support the god you are meeting and what the area feels like and what the god’s personality is. We are also having music to support the combat with the creatures plus there are puzzles that you will do that also has its own music. When you go into Tartarus, there’s a whole different aesthetic in that world. One of the lovely things when you are exploring, the music shifts depending on what kind of action you are doing. Be it flying, running or climbing.
What was the craziest thing you had to do in order to get that specific sound for whatever item of monster you had?
We have a lot of mythical creatures and monsters which are in the game. The sound designers had to create the sounds of each of them. They recorded the sound effects by bashing things and making a lot of noise. They created a lot of sound effects themselves. They would then have to layer that up with samples of different characters. For example, we have Cerberus the three-headed dog in the game. One of our sound designers went through every single kind of dog sound effect he could find but also created a lot of sound effects himself. He then used software to combine it all and modify it to get a sort of sound effect you have not heard before.
Typhon, who you are fighting against, we recorded our actor’s voice him and get him to do a lot of sounds with his voice as well as the lines. We spent a lot of time adding processes onto his voice and doubling his voice up to find the right sound for the god threatening the world.
Does the game take advantage of the PS5 Tempest AudioTech and what do you think of the new technology as someone who deals with sound in video games?
Yes, we do use the tools which are available to us now. It is the first time we have used it so it was a good time for us to learn and experiment. It is always an interesting moment for sound people when a new console with new capabilities comes out. Certainly from a sound point of view, having the opportunity to really have the sound placed around you. To make the sound feel like it is immersive. That is it very well-spatialized in the world you are in is always nice. It is something that we are always driving for and will continue working with in the future.
What was the most challenging sound the team had to make and what was the process behind it?
For some of the sounds, there was a lot of iteration because you start off with one idea and then the visual of the creature of the animation of the creature changes and you need to keep developing the sound along with these changes. I mentioned Typhon’s voice previously and that was quite challenging for us. We did iterate on Typhon’s voice quite a lot to get the right feeling depth in the voice but still be understandable. If you put a lot of heavy process onto the voice then maybe the player cannot understand what the character was saying.
The biggest challenge was with the creatures and how we added all of the sounds together. Sometimes you are fighting different creatures at the same time. Multiple creatures too. So we wanted to make sure they had their own personalities so they felt unique. When you are in a battle with them, we wanted the player to be able to tell them apart. So the creature sounds were already challenging but bringing them together and making them work as a whole was probably the most time consuming and challenging part of it.
Immortals: Fenyx Rising releases on 3 December for PS4, PS5, Xbox, PC and Switch.