Don’t go twice to the same river, they say. But with the second time one is smarter by what they learnt before. In the first part of the series, Horizon Zero Dawn, the music was written by a team of composers and when the time came for the sequel – Horizon Forbidden West – they rejoined again. This time, however, they wanted to create something new and fresh, still keeping the feeling of the series about brave Aloy.

The music was written by a team of composers and when the time came for the sequel.

If you’ve now thought about the Assassin’s Creed series’ soundtrack for a second – well, an apple doesn’t fall far from an apple tree: for both Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Horizon series the music was created (or co-created) by a duo The Flight – Joe Henson and Alexis Smith. Along with them, the team, led by Lucas Van Tol (Guerilla Music studio), contained Joris de Man and Niels van der Leest. No surprise, since the team was nominated for BAFTA for Soundtrack Of The Year back in 2018. With Horizon Forbidden West, the team was joined by Oleksa Lozowchuk – multi-instrumentalist with a huge experience in game soundtracks, film scores and popular music. From collaborating with the best film directors, to working for big film studios (Disney, Netflix), to nominations and awards.

„We were aware this was new sonic territory, it couldn’t be retread of the previous game” – Joris de Man.

Lucas Van Tol collected a few individuals, where each of them worked differently. But he, as a head of creative process, found what each composer is the best in, and set tasks individually. Since the very beginning composers have aimed for a really complementar mix of acoustic (relating to an organic and “tribe” sound of the first episode) and electronic instruments that would let them show a larger spectrum of emotions.

Regardless of an approach, each composer started the same way – with analysing the music for Horizon Zero Dawn. Lozowchuk dived into the atmosphere, while The Flight wanted to revisit their own recording process. De Man tried to distinguish which elements in his music worked well previously, while van der Leest experienced the whole Aloy’s story to find himself inside her head and then compare it with the previous music, making something new. One common thing for all of them was to move a main point to some other place. This time they didn’t want the music to circle around vast landscapes. They wanted the music to look closely at Aloy describing her feelings.

How to turn your passion for video game music into a career?

You can find plenty of interesting details about this collaboration in this blog post from PlayStation. It’s a great insight into how different musicians can work together, even during the pandemic, being thousands of miles apart from each other for most of the time.

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Maciej Baska

In the games he happens to stand around at a random location only because there is a great music. For over a decade he's composed, written, recorded and mixed.