Games

A Plague Tale Requiem composer on making music worthy of the Macula

A Plague Tale Requiem Game Awards nominee and composer Olivier Deriviere is no stranger to crafting soaring RPG game soundtracks that transport players to mysterious new worlds. Capturing the brutality, hopelessness, and strife that Amicia and Hugo face throughout their woeful journey is hardly an easy task, so we asked Deriviere about how he composed a soundtrack that encapsulates the macabre grandeur of the 14th-century Black Plague.

In my Plague Tale Requiem review I highlighted the score and general sound design as being critical to the game’s ambience – clearly something the lovely people over at the Game Awards picked up on, too. I asked Deriviere about tailoring the soundtrack to fit the doom and gloom of The Red City, and later La Cuna and Marseilles.

“For A Plague Tale Innocence the creative director David Dedeine pushed for having cellos. He had a strong idea of what colours he wanted to have. When Requiem came along, we had to extend the musical colours to some new ground. The game was asking us to deliver something fresh but nevertheless very meaningful,” Deriviere tells PCGamesN.

“After some discussion, we realised that the addition of a choir would fit exactly what we needed, and I couldn’t be happier to have been working with the two-time Grammy award-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. The game is called ‘Requiem’ which means ‘a mass for the dead.’ Nothing but a choir could express this.”

Ideas began to flow as he played through the game; something Deriviere does with every virtual adventure he works on. “Having such a connection with the game really makes a huge difference in my understanding as a gamer, but also being close to the team allows me to grasp and understand the numerous ideas they have,” Deriviere states.

It also allows him to create something more meaningful than a score that simply frames the in-game action. As the mainstream videogame landscape continues to trend towards fully immersive experiences, I asked Deriviere whether or not he’s noticed a shift in how game developers are approaching in-game music.

“I think that audio as a whole (sound design, voice over, music) has been really improving over the last decade. We now have tools that are mature and mostly we have professionals that master how to approach and deliver audio for games.

“From my experience I have been advocating for more than two decades to have music design be a part of the approach for music, and I can say with strong conviction that the shift happened about five years ago,” he continues. “Developers realised that music in games could be more than ‘just’ music and I think the musical future of gaming is full of promise.”

It’s this shift in attitude that has led to ceremonies like The Game Awards having individual categories for sound design and music. As a result of his work on Plague Tale Requiem, Deriviere has been nominated for best score and music, something he refers to as “pleasant. To be recognized is a way for me to keep pushing developers to make videogame music a different experience than we were used to,” he concludes.

If Plague Tale’s enchanting soundtrack and twisted tale of woe sound right up your street, be sure to check out the Plague Tale Requiem system requirements and ensure your PC is up to scratch. Additionally, if you’re asking ‘how long is a Plague Tale Requiem,’ we’ve got you covered, but trust me when I say it’s worth the time.

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