In Part 1 of this four-part blog series, Twisted Pixel Games Project Director of Development Mike Henry took us behind the scenes of Path of the Warrior—now available on Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform. We then heard from Project Director of Art Todd Swanson on the game’s unique sense of style, followed by Project Director of Design Eric Wenske on the overall art direction. Today, our series concludes with a look at the game’s soundtrack and sound design.
Path of the Warrior, the new Oculus Quest and Rift Platform virtual reality beat ’em up from Twisted Pixel Games, pays homage to classic brawlers both in gameplay and aesthetics. And nowhere is that style more evident than in the music and sound design of the game.
“For the music inspiration, the composer Aaron Brown and I looked through hundreds of different songs from the late ’80s and early ’90s eras of music,” says Project Director of Audio James Barker. “We ended up settling on this synthy, dark wave style from the early ’90s, which fit very well with the game.”
The game immediately hits you with a killer theme song, perfectly encapsulating the overall tone. The theme song was a high priority and involved many people across the team.
“Director Josh Bear and I had been talking about doing something for it from pretty much the start,” Barker recalls. “When we finally had the time to work on it, he wrote some lyrics and came into the office and recorded a scratch vocal track, with the basic melody that he was hearing in his head. Aaron Brown and I sat down and sketched out a rough framework for the music, and he took all that back to the studio and laid out a final version of the song. We hired two singers and one guitarist to record on top of that. From there, Aaron got everything mixed together, and voila.”
While the style of Path of the Warrior is over-the-top, Barker wanted to make sure that he found a good balance for sound design to keep the player grounded. He tried hard to ensure that fighting felt as visceral as possible while still accommodating the stylized art direction.
“It took some time to figure it out, but I essentially went as realistic as possible for combat, foley, physics, and ambience,” says Barker. “Doing this left room to go more cartoony for the big moments, like the hot spots and hostage rescues. This approach allowed those moments to stand out better, as they are less frequently heard.”
The retro style not only created a distinct identity for Path of the Warrior—it also gave Barker a lot of room to play around and experiment. “This was a lot of fun, because it is a complete departure from all the other Twisted Pixel games I’ve worked on,” he says. “It was nice to explore a more cartoony element, with a bit of retro nostalgia thrown in there. I had a blast blending modern sounds with old school 8- and 16-bit sounds to create something that is really enjoyable.”