Horizon Zero Dawn and the evolution of its magical soundtrack to Forbidden West

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One of the main keys that made us fall in love with Horizon Zero Dawn and its world was the sound band who accompanied us at all times during Aloy’s great adventure. With a series of musical themes inspiring there by that epics, many of us remember a good number of unique melodies from this work by Guerrilla Games and we repeat them over and over in our heads. One of the composers main of all this magical soundtrack was the Dutch Joris de Man, who repeats his role in the sequel to the work at hand: Horizon Forbidden West. For this reason we wanted interview him in order to discover all the ins and outs that make up the creation of these musical themes, in addition to knowing the evolution of the matter throughout these years and, of course, discovering some pills of what we can listen to in Forbidden West.

This is how the Horizon Zero Dawn soundtrack was created

After spending a few years jumping from project to project (practically always related to the field of video games), Joris de Man He managed to create a connection with Guerrilla Games, a studio located in his native Holland: “It was an interesting process,” he says, “Lucas, senior sound designer and music supervisor, proposed me as a candidate. They initially thought it might not be the right fit due to my great orchestral scores for the series Killzone, since they were looking for something opposite to that. Fortunately, after testing a few tracks, I was able to convince them that I had a few more strings on my bow. “

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Guerrilla’s goal was to get a soundtrack that fit naturally with the world of Horizon and Aloy’s personal journey, therefore: “With a more solo focus of the instruments and also an instrumentation that will adapt to both the tribal elements and the more mechanical elements of music (by mechanical beasts). We observe the use of conventional instruments in unconventional ways, such as bowing and striking acoustic guitars, using a pick on a violin, scraping various objects, or even making instruments ourselves. Besides, also era It is important to find a voice for Aloy, what I did when I found one vocalist on Julie Elven that fit his character, and had a sense of fragility and strength, besides using a cello for some of the songs with the most melodic touches ”. He also adds that they later merged that sound with more electronic textures to thus obtain a crossing between both sound worlds.

Joris was not alone to develop the soundtrack of the work, but he did it accompanied by other composers such as Niels van der Leest, each of them with different musical roles: “Niels, for example, is a talented percussionist and has extensive experience and knowledge of percussion instruments, so it seemed like a natural fit for some of the heavy pieces of the intended musical themes. to action and hunting scenes. The Flight they are fantastic at ambient music that sounds very organic and textural, as well as fighting music, so they tackled that side of the game. ” The part that Joris commissioned was Aloy’s mythical song, in addition to other more emotional and thematic pieces, as he ensures that he really enjoys composing them to support the narrative aspect of the game’s plot.

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As for his favorite songs from the game, Joris points to the theme of the prologue and Aloy’s, although Homecoming has a very special place in his heart: “It’s such a moving and cathartic scene, yet told so simply and powerfully in the way it reconnects Aloy with her true past and gives her a sense of belonging. ” He also adds other pieces such as “City on the Mesa” and “Trails in the Darkness”, noting that he was really satisfied with the textures and chords he came up with for that one.

First bars of the Horizon Forbidden West soundtrack

In the first Horizon Forbidden West trailers and teasers that Guerrilla has shared, we were able to start listening to some fragments of the soundtrack that will accompany us throughout the game. Since we have had the opportunity to chat virtually with Joris de Man, We take the opportunity to ask him how the writing process of this new batch of musical themes has gone (or is going) for the long-awaited sequel to Aloy’s adventure.

“The biggest challenge when making a second game, especially one that was so well received, is how to repeat that hit musically, and understand what worked and what didn’t, as well as find something fresh and new, without straying too far from the style and themes that made the original so compelling. From all the music I’ve been able to listen to, I can say that every songwriter at Horizon Forbidden West has risen to this challenge admirably! There was a conscious effort focused on update the sound palette with a little more work from synthesizer in order to bring the world of mechanical beasts even closer to music; although we try to put our own spin on it and therefore avoid choosing sounds that are too conventional. Lucas always urged us to come up with textures and combinations that people haven’t heard of before. The recently released EP offers a small glimpse of the sonic world we’ve created, although it’s fair to say there’s a lot more we’re hoping people would hear. “

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He can’t tell us much more, since there’s still a lot we don’t know about Horizon Forbidden West, but he does anticipate that even though he can’t mention anything about the ongoing developments, he can say that He has had a great time working on this project. With these words and the promise that the sequel’s soundtrack will live up to the original (which is saying a lot), We close an interview that leaves us with even more desire to delve into and lose ourselves in the attractive post-apocalyptic world created by Guerrilla Games.


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