Introduction – The Musical Magic of Until Dawn

Barney Pratt is the audio genius behind the horrifically scary, Until Dawn, which is an exclusive for Playstation 4. Until Dawn’s developers, Supermassive Games, had the goal of making a filmic experience that you can play. The ingenious “butterfly effect” that allowed for multiple outcomes based on player actions only added to the challenge of scoring the game. Until Dawn has won numerous awards including a win for “Best Original Property” at the Bafta’s this year  It is also up for five awards at the Develop conference this coming July.

The game follows 8 characters, each of which you get to play during the course of a play through. The decisions you make significantly alter the outcome of the game using the aforementioned “butterfly effect.”  The game is meant to be played multiple times in order to see all the possible outcomes and content. Also, if you are like me, you’ll want to play them all to hear the different music. This was “constructed” from the score that Jason Graves created, and was designed to match each decision made during the labyrinthine course of the game.

Barney hired Jason Graves to create the haunting and beautiful score.  The score encapsulates the evil lurking in every shadow, but also the tenderness of the main characters as they bond during the harrowing ordeal. It also has an air of whimsy when appropriate. This humorous element is a result of the instrumentation, and is usually designed to set you up for a big scare.

In this interview, Michael Sweet and I sit down with Barney to discuss his direction from the composer’s brief through the implementation of the score in the game.  Thanks to Barney and Supermassive Games for allowing us this in depth look into the architecture of the musical genius of a horror game done right!

Video Podcast


Streaming Podcast on Mixcloud:

Download Link for Podcast:

[download id=”3705″]


Here are the questions and topics we discussed in the interview:

Intro:  0:00

Excerpts from the Interview: 0:30

Barney’s Background prior to Supermassive:  2:33

What was in the Music Brief you sent to Jason?  4:40

Barney’s thoughts and comments on the score while playing Various Tracks from OST

  1. The Shadow of the Mountain (Main Theme) : 8:30
  2. Run or Hide 9:45
  3. Chris and Ashley 12:00
  4. Mike and Jessica  13:40

Questions about music implementation.  16:30

How was Jason Chosen for the job? 18:20

How did you utilize the 19 stem layers? – 19:44

Motifs for different characters? – 23:10

Randomization not working, needed more control to get the music in sync with the action. 24:00

Raising Volume as player nears target (a door). 24:30

Induction of fear, the use of stings (stingers) and risers to build tension.  25:40

What other effects to increase tension?  27:36

Snapshots, WWISE and detailed implementation discussion  29:30

Mixing and Mastering process and QA.  30:30

Experimenting on beta testers with galvanic skin meters – what did you learn about the music?  34:00

Combining Sound design with the music.  35:15

Ending and Outro.  36:50


Scream 4 Marco Beltrami


The Grudge – Christofer Young


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