The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog has shed light on the game’s minimalist soundtrack and sound design in a new interview, in which game director Bruce Straley discusses his ‘less is more’ approach to creating nerve-shredding, poignant moments.
In an interview with The Soundworks Collection, Straley discussed the studio’s aims with the game’s audio, including a desire to create Hitchcock flavours of suspense through what you hear, instead of solely relying on visuals.
You have to imagine that elements like raiders shouting and trying to tease Joel out of hiding, as well as the game’s music – from those moments where it sounds like someone hitting metal with a sledgehammer, to those lovely acoustic guitar songs – were all designed to set a tangible mood, something Straley confirmed in the interview.
He explained, “It’s more about the psychology of what’s happening on the audioscape than what you’re seeing. Less is more. It’s not about the dialogue and exposition inside of a scene as sometimes the look in a character’s eye. That’s the same thing with the audio. Less is more. Strip all that away. Then when a sound hits, it’s really impactful.”
Writer Neil Druckmann added, “Even though it’s brutal, it doesn’t need to be big. You can underplay a lot of these ideas.”
Did you feel that the game’s music set a tense, or even emotional tone? Was it successful? Let us know below.