Directed by Sean Dacanay. Produced by Justin Wolfson. Edited by Jeremy Smolnik, with Billy Ward. Click here for transcript.

In part one of our exclusive Callisto Protocol behind-the-scenes sneak peek, we hung out with Dead Space designer and Striking Distance Studio head Glen Schofield and got him to spill some details about his next shambling horror title, The Callisto Protocol. This week, in part two, we’re focusing on a sometimes underrated but never unimportant aspect of game design: the audio.

For a horror game like Callisto Protocol, audio has to shoulder a tremendous amount of responsibility for setting the stage. As audio director Nassim Ait-Kaci explains, “Music is maybe the effective tool, from an audio perspective, to apply tension, foreshadowing, lead-up, build-up, and [to] craft special moments.” Accordingly, much of the soundscape that players will encounter in the game is hand-tuned—particularly in big moments. Glen weighs in on his feelings about the specific timing and volume of the musical cues and sound effects that will accompany jump scares or big reveals or really anything. The goal is to tell a compelling and scary story, and in horror, nailing the timing can make the difference between jolting the audience out of their seats—or not.

“We can’t miss a sound by a hundredth of a second,” explains Glen. “Timing is everything.”

For even higher-fidelity horror noises, Striking Distance acquired a piece of kit called an Apprehension Engine. Described by Ait-Kaci as a “half-instrument, half-noisemaker,” the Apprehension Engine is a wooden frame sporting cranks, flanges, springs, strings—all the fiddly bits necessary to produce creepy sounds. Set against Callisto Protocol‘s imagery, the Apprehension Engine’s otherworldly cacophony sounds right at home.

More to come

We’ve got two more episodes in this limited series coming up. Next Tuesday at the same time, we’ll look at the way lighting design works in Callisto Protocol—and, as you might imagine, lighting plays heavily into setting and sustaining the mood of the game, just as good music and sound effects do. Stay tuned for more next week!

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