First of all, sorry for the delay, guys! These last weeks I had a lot of sounds and music to do. I’ll write about these projects once they come out!
As I mentioned in my previous post, this one will be about the last game that Critical Studio was working on, before we shut our doors. We all look forward, however, to getting back together and finishing it sometime in the future!
About the game
Bruma is a turn-based tactical and strategy game that is set in a dark low-fantasy world. Try to picture a combat system as in X-Com paired with a Civilization-ish socio-economic system and all of it taking place in a medieval and sinister, unforgiving world, like the one of Dark Souls, though with only a few, albeit decisive fantasy elements. I hope I’ve drawn your interest. 🙂
I won’t give away too much about Bruma’s mystery-filled storyline, so in short, you will lead a small group of nomadic people, struggling to survive in an unfertile land that is constantly covered in a thick supernatural fog (in Latin and many Romanic languages “Bruma”, hence the name). Your desperate search for food and shelter will have you face a group of strange beings in a fight to the death over the scarce resources.
First steps for the music
So what would be a fitting musical approach to such a premise? Knowing what the gameplay and especially the plot and the overall lore had in store for the player, I decided in the first place, that all instruments had to be natural, even if I should in some way alter them digitally afterwards.
As you may have guessed, the fog, the Bruma, is an essential part of the game, almost as if it was a character by itself. With that, the inspiration for my first musical ideas came up quickly, thanks to its haunting nature. I decided to gather dozens of glasses, cooking lids and bottles, and recorded a few hours of glass harping and bottle blowing. After throwing them all together and using a bit of reverb and delay, Bruma had come to life:
The rusticity of what I had already recorded made it clear, that it was the perfect opportunity to do something I had already planned to a few times, but had never really had the time for: building a new instrument. 🙂
To make things short, the instrument, that had in some way to embody the player’s characters constant feelings of fear, anxiety, and forsakenness, became a mixture of a 12-string mandolin and a cajón. I call it, the viojón:
At this point, I’d like to thank the great luthier Wagner Brito from São Paulo, for carving the neck that was used for the viojón.
To be honest, since this was the first time I was creating an instrument, I wasn’t really sure if it would even make a decent sound when finished. But that was okay, I wasn’t looking for a replacement for my guitar, I was actually looking forward to something crude and different. In the end, the viojón was a positive surprise, because I really enjoyed the sound, and the fact that the large cajón body keeps the notes ringing inside for almost an eternity.
After recording a miriad of sounds with the viojón and playing around with them a lot on Cubase, these are a few examples of what came out:
To increase the palette of unusual timbres, I also added what I called the berimbow. It is simply the Brazilian instrument berimbau being played with a bow. Although this simply means playing a string with a bow, the wah-effect when the opening of the calabash is closed by your belly makes some interesting sounds. Here some examples (not processed):
The main theme
So, I had found a few textures that would represent different elements of Bruma, but what now? Where was the music? I knew that apart from my rustic sounds, I wanted to make use of medieval and orchestral instruments, but most definitely wouldn’t be looking into composing some epic run-of-the-mill fantasy soundtrack. The instrumentation had to be related, in our modern sense, to the historical setting in the game, but the compositions had to be about feelings, the usual fantasy/historic composition and orchestration tecniques kept aside.
With that in mind, I composed, what ultimately became the main theme of Bruma (this is NO final mix or master, only a mockup, best listened to on headphones):
Unfortunately, apart from the viojón chords, everything in this piece is played by virtual instruments. But should things work out and Critical Studio get back together to finish this project, we will do everything to have the soundtrack recorded live. 🙂
That’s it, folks! I’ll be glad f you’d like to ask or comment anything! And to finish this post, here’s another track for Bruma. This one is a quick sequence of three important gameplay stages in the tactical phase; first, the heroes delving deeper into the fog, second, the moment they are seen by the enemy, and third, the enemy combat turn (this is also NO final mix or master, only a mockup, best listened to on headphones):