KIN: a highly stylized VR platformer (and an excuse to buy more synths)

Hey everyone!

We're proud to announce that KIN has been released for Rift and GearVR, and we figured it'd be cool to give a rundown of what we did to create the soundscape for this beauty created by House of Secrets.


When we were approached to handle the sound design for this title, it became immediately clear that the creative direction of the entire game was to be highly abstract and stylized with a large dose of digital surreality and Ghibli-like magic.
Arjen van Meerten -HoS creative director- was responsible for the music, much of which was composed on an iPad in a very stream-of-consciousness way. Because this formed a very flowing, ethereal, and clearly electronic auditory backdrop, we wanted to develop a soundscape that would complement his score spectrally, but would also serve as a counterpoint to bring out the more scary and threatening aspects of this world.
After several tests and rounds of iteration, we soon decided to create a sound library mostly based on granular and subtractive synthesis.

As you'll hear, many of the enemies (the so-called "Creepers") have a very squarewave-ish and bitcrushed indentity. Their nightmarish digital presence really came out well when using filtered envelopes and applying light bitcrushing -often layered through vocoders with other synthesized sounds as modulators.


Many of the sounds for the lower-level enemies were originally created by jamming on a Korg Minilogue and making presets along the way. Since they're typically quite frantic and jittery we applied a lot of filter-movement, often triggered by LFO's or by manually playing with  envelope curves. This gave us about an hour's worth of source material and a stupendous amount of presets to work off of. Additionally, a lot of source material was generated using the amazing SynPlant, which allowed for many "happy accidents".
Many of the bigger enemies needed a more terrorizing presence so we did a lot of layering here. To create some sonic difference between the smaller and bigger enemies, most of these sounds were created on a Waldorf Blofeld. The cold, digital character of this beast really helped set these creatures apart. We subsequently layered many of the more expressive sounds with vocals to give them a more tangent creature-like character and draw them a little bit away from the abstract.


The protagonists in the game, such as Kira and her Robot Nami, needed a more light and granular presence. Kira's footsteps are glass-samples processed through a granular synth and most of her interaction sounds use glass -or glass-like- source samples. Many of her sounds were processed through GRMTools FreqWarp.
Nami's vocals were created using resonance filters with various source files as input. Her vocals were made by tapping a microphone stand, which gives it it's bouncey character.

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The ambient sound design was way too much fun to work on. We tried using actual samples of beaches, valleys, and forests, but the dissonance between that and the synth-based creature sounds soon turned out to be too large, so here too we had to aim for mostly synthetic source materials.
A lot of the ambience (the rushing of trees, the roaring of the sea, the whispering of the wind) is all  filtered white noise, complimented with several types of processing and several of the more specific ambient sounds are made with Uvi Falcon.
Additionally all the distant fauna such as birds, are very basic oscillators with minor filter movement and heaps of reverb.

Anyway, we could go on and on about how much fun we had with this, but we feel you shoud check it out for yourself. 

Go and find KIN here and let us know what you think!

Check out the project page here.