Doki Doki Literature Club
This game uses its music to lull you into a false sense of security. Everything is happy and bright. Then its not. The sound serves to disturb and terrorize you as you go deeper into the game. Playing tricks on you way more than a typical horror game does, more than a jumpscare, the sound in this game made a deeply uncomfortable hole in my stomach as a scene played and twisted itself.
Doki Doki Literature Club
Yeah, already seconded, so I won’t bother, but it’s the game where I cannot have any other audio running. I just can’t.
No music, no streams, no podcasts, nothing. Which I don’t think any other game has really pushed me into. (That I can recall.)
The closest was probably just when I was taking Counter Strike very seriously, and I’d pause other sound for a few rounds here or there to hear footsteps better, but it was uncommon, and it bugged me. PUBG demands it basically always while playing, and I’ve still put North of 200 hours into it without even regretting that level of focus. (Something I just can’t do with a lot of media, just sitting with one thing for a while, but it’s engrossing enough, and holds my focus well enough that it just… doesn’t bother me at all.) (Which may speak less specifically to quality of sound design, as you said, but more to how important audio is for it, and how much I pay attention to it.)
(Which is why I also did just put it in bold.)
Hidden Folks (Feb. 15th - iOS)
The sound design in this game is so charming. I haven’t had this much fun tapping on items and characters since Warcraft III. I’ve replayed this game twice partially just to hear all the fun mouth-made sounds again.
Nomination: Splatoon 2
As far as overall sound-design, I think Splatoon 2 has to win it. The music is great, everywhere it appears in game, from my favourite online battle theme to the weirdest single player tracks and the creepy as hell Salmon Run music, it’s all out of the park stuff.
But there’s lots of other little attention to details here. Beyond obviously sound playing an important role in online matches, there’s little things like how every single vendor has a different rendition of the same melody that matches their vibe.
The whole game creates an atmosphere that is very unique. I find myself saying that sounds like Splatoon 2. I love the audio experience in that game
I didn’t expect this to be my game for this category, but I can’t think of another game from this year whose sounds I can recall so vividly. The general grain on all the audio, the VO at the start of battles, the clicking sound of the pea shooter, and the ever present dying record scratch… It’s sticking with me, even though I didn’t play much of that game.
Going to reiterate Prey, just for the sake of it moving through, even if it wasn’t perhaps the best. (Man I haven’t played much from this year, huh?) There is nothing eerier than hearing alien chitters all about you as you skulk and realize you aren’t alone.
My nomination could’ve gone to The Sexy Brutale if it weren’t ruined by poor mixing and editing.
somewhat surprised i haven’t seen it here already but Hollow Knight does some remarkable stuff with its pseudo-conlang dialogue which i think adds a really dense layer of atmosphere to the world and the characters in it. the interpretation of accents and syllables which makes up the bug language is really cool, and it instantly conveys personality with just a couple of utterances.
language aside, the sound design in the game really stood out to me. the pleasing tink-tink-tink of charging your Crystal Heart, the goopy ASMR unpleasantness of the enemies in the Royal Waterways, the chittering and scurrying of countless nasty things in the Deephive.
Automatic like for “diegetic”.
I would like to nominate Horizon: Zero Dawn.
The sound of the mechanical beasts seemed spot on for me and I fell the battles with them would have been nowhere near as impactful if not for the mechanical but bestial noises, intermittently cut through by the sounds of Aloy’s weapons. In particular, the feel of a well placed Tearblast arrow thrumming into an explosion followed by the beast staggering with components spraying everywhere was spectacular.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice would not work without its audio design being so good, simple as that.
But that’s been mentioned a lot so I will say that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had some good ass sound design
If Hellblade doesn’t win then this whole shit is clearly rigged. That said, since it has already been mentioned twice i will nominate What Remains of Edith Finch. The different narrators were all unique and each fit the tone of the story told perfectly. It actually felt like someone was reading a story. Special shoutout to Barbara’s story (the one that takes place on Halloween) for the narration and music that plays during it.
This game has some of the most satisfying combat I’ve experienced in a 2D action game, and a huge part of that rests on its sound design. In a game where every hit is crisp and satisfying, and where the differences between a standard hit, a critical hit, and a killing hit are all very clearly communicated by differences in sound. That actually becomes really significant when fights in the later game grow twitchier and more chaotic. Throw in clearly defined and differentiated sounds for various enemy attacks, different weapons, conditions like burning or poisoned, and tangential actions (rolling, picking up, etc.), and Dead Cells’ stellar combat really seems to be a result not just of great mechanics but of stellar sound design.
I second Super Mario Odyssey! Every single sound you mentioned is so incredibly satisfying. Its a huge part of what makes playing the game such a joyous time because it all blends together to convey that feeling to the player. It definitely goes beyond just the music.
The slick parry and shooting sounds. The film grain noise. The sound effect for taking damage. The sounds in this game feed back into the broader aesthetic very well.
Hey, Waypointeers! There’s only seven more days left on nominations! The mod team are gearing up for Phase 2 of The GILM Awards, so we can let y’all decide what the Waypoint Community felt were their favourite works of 2017. We know a few people are wrestling about their nominations, so this is just a reminder to get yours in before the deadline hits — we’re not taking late submissions!
On that note, there’s a few items that have only been nominated once so far. If you feel strongly about any of these making it to our final poll, they need a second nomination before Phase 1 closes.
- Dead Cells
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Horizon Zero Dawn
- Sonic Forces
Seconding Hollow Knight. It’s subtle, but the audio work is always meaningful and helps inject this (mostly dead) world with a lot of life. The dung beetle battle…oh my.
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