New Hellblade Developer Diary Discusses the Music

Ninja Theory has been teasing their fans with inside looks into the making of their latest game, Hellblade, through a series of development diaries. In the ninth installment of this video series, the team at Ninja Theory dives into their ideas and process behind the musical work of Hellblade. Dominic Matthews, Product Development Ninja, stated that the team wanted “for music to be part of the creative process from the very beginning” in contrast to many games that don’t commission music until very late stages of development.

For this purpose, Ninja Theory brought in Norwegian musician Andy LaPlegua, originally to work on the Viking side of the music alone. The original concept for the score was to focus on the clashing elements of Viking and Celtic culture. After working with LaPlegua, however, Tameem Antoniads, Chief Creative Ninja, was impressed by his work and how he seemed to “be on the same page” with “a level of innate understanding.” LaPlegua himself was excited to truly be part of the creative team rather than just being hired to do music for a completed project. The connection between the story and music work is strong with LaPlegua stating “Certain things that I do with this can shape the storyline of the game, as well as maybe opening new doors that none of us knew were possible.”

The music itself is described as diverse, exciting, and unexpected. Many instruments were used in unconventional ways to make it sound different from what it is made for. For example, in one point in the video, a drill is used on guitar strings to make an eerie screeching noise. LaPlegua’s Norwegian background also made it possible for him to use the language to delve deeper into the Norse, Viking era of the game. Senua’s musical themes were described as drawing more from folk influences in order to give it a familiar feeling. One song, that highlights Senua’s relationship with her mother, was drawn from an old nursery rhyme that LaPlegua remembered from his childhood.

The goal, Antoniades writes, was “to find a style that felt interesting and different in Hellblade” to go along with Ninja Theory’s goal to give Hellblade an entirely unique feel in all aspects. The team wanted the music to tell a story or draw out emotion from the player. Ninja Theory’s approach to the development of the game is to put “creative faith in people who have a burning desire and ability to explore and push beyond convention.” A full track of LaPlegua’s work will be coming out on the game’s website soon.

Details about the style and tone of the game were recently discussed in an interview with PlayStation Access, and other frequently asked questions were addressed in a blog post last week. Hellblade will be coming out this year on PlayStation 4 and PC.

Check out the latest development diary below.