Evolve is the latest release from Turtle Rock Studios, yet another co-op shooter from the developers who made a name for themselves with the Left 4 Dead franchise. Evolve follows a similar structure to its zombified predecessors in terms of gameplay, with the whole game revolving around a premise of kill or be killed. Once one of these outcomes has been achieved, the game is over. You would think that with such a narrow and unchanging gameplay, it would be difficult to conceive of new creative ideas once a central musical theme has been established. But British Academy Award Winning composer Jason Graves uses a number of interesting tactics to keep the soundtrack fresh and original.
Often games use a style of audio presentation called ‘reactive music,’ which is music that fits specific events that a player experiences in real time. The difficulty for soundtrack composers on multiplayer games is that reactive music is no longer an option as every player is experiencing something different. To overcome this obstacle, Jason uses what’s called ‘stingers’. Stingers are snippets of music that last only a few seconds which are used to emphasise particular events that happen during gameplay. Jason made hundreds of these stingers and set them to background music to be triggered by each player during gameplay.
Apart from stingers, the OST for Evolve could be considered ‘atmospheric music’. This means that the music focuses mainly on the atmosphere and tone of the game, which makes sense in the style of game such as Evolve where the emphasis is placed on the gameplay.
Another interesting quality of the Evolve soundtrack is the instrumentation. Although it sounds entirely computerised, Graves actually created much of the soundtrack using a myriad of percussion instruments, guitar effects and even household products such as pencils, a pizza box, part of a bird cage and a roller chair.
Graves also has his name on over 50 other game soundtracks, including EA’s ‘Dead Space’, Square Enix’s ‘Tomb Raider’ and Sony’s latest release ‘The Order: 1886,’ which was released on the 20th of February 2015, only ten days after the release of Evolve. He is also the winner of 31 awards including the British Academy Award for Best Original Score (Dead Space).These accomplishments add up to a very well established career in the gaming audio world for the young composer who will no doubt continue to please gaming audiences around the world.