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Callisto Protocol shows how audio design elevates a game from scary to terrifying

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

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 ends up having 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.

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