The Three Senses of Horror: Sound

To wrap up this quick series on horror before our horror cast, I want touch on the importance of sound design with setting the mood and ratcheting up the tension.


Killing Them Softly:

Sound is as important a detail in horror movies as it is in horror games as audio can serve several purposes: Early warning, raising tension and going all out when the crap has hit the fan. But like with everything else when it comes to horror, it needs to be properly paced and composed for it to have its full affect.

People more versed (no pun intended) in composing and audio design will have a more technical explanation than what I’m going to talk about. Understanding the right music for the right moment is an art form in of itself and something that both horror movies and games these days can learn a thing or two from.

For me, I’m believer in the “less is more” saying when it comes to audio in horror. I’m not a fan of horror movies that have to have the soundtrack blaring whenever something is about to attack or worse, plays random metal songs as the monster attacks.

I find things personally scarier when there is no music and only the ambient sounds around the person or character can be heard. On the cast we talked about how much your own imagination can have an impact on horror and when you’re left completely alone with your thoughts; your imagination can run wild.

Another important part of sound design is randomized effects: Doors slamming, windows creaking and so on. Just like with visual and gameplay design, the more routine something becomes, the less impact it has. That’s why in my dream horror game idea, there will be no such thing as a soundtrack, and everything will be based on ambient noises which should be randomized. I want a pin drop to be like a nuclear bomb to your ears.

There is a lot more to sound design, however I don’t have the audio background to write about it. With that said, that wraps up this series and come back tomorrow for the horror edition of the Perceptive Podcast.

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