We asked a few questions to composer and sound designer Daryl Leigh Lynn about his work on ‘Instinction’, a forthcoming survival game by game developer Hashbane. Described by the press as “the spiritual successor of Dino Crisis”, Instinction is an ambitious project expected to be released in 2022 for all the major gaming platforms. Daryl shares with us a few insights about his compositional approach and research to develop the peculiar sound palette of Instinction.
You’re working on the music and sound design of ‘Instinction’, a forthcoming adventure-action game by developer Hashbane. Congratulations! Would you tell us a bit more about this huge project?
Thank you! So at its core, Instinction is a next gen dinosaur survival game with a narrative-driven story played across multiple biomes, either solo or co-op with up to three other players. When initial news broke of the games development, it was dubbed in the press as: the spiritual successor to Capcom’s 90s series “Dino Crisis” – other than featuring dinosaurs, it’s very much a new chapter for this genre of video game with a larger scope and one I am very proud to be a part of. Growing up, I was absolutely fascinated with dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures, playing the majority of dinosaur based games that were available at the time, then we seemingly hit a lull. There was the odd indie game but nothing that really seemed to connect with a broader audience. The genre seemed all but extinct… Now, what began as a passion project for Hashbane, has become a revival for the genre as a whole. Since the announcement of Instinction, we’ve already seen a few other dino related games enter development so It’s an exciting time for the game industry. I won’t say too much but what I will say is the story is very natural and grounded. The way the creatures are brought into the narrative is fantastic (there’s no Dinosaurs in space or time travel going on) and it equally delivers a mix of action, adventure and horror. A number of the developers at Hashbane have backgrounds in architecture visualisation and CGI which really shows in the games visuals. They already know how to make things beautiful and with the advancement of Unreal Engine 5 they are able to create even higher fidelity, I think people will be blown away with what they see. With the stunning visuals and unique story, it’s incredibly important that both the soundtrack and sound design work hand in hand if not enhancing the overall experience Instinction is set to offer.
Which creative approach did you adopt to develop the sound palette of Instinction?
At the heart of the palette, there are traditional orchestral sections: used in untraditional ways. My individual style tends to lean on a hybrid mixture of orchestra and electronic elements often embellished with world instruments, which gave us a great basis for the core cinematic elements of Instinction’s sound. It was then a case of looking to find ways to make it more unique taking consideration to the game’s elements and my interpretation of what I had seen at that point. We put in a lot of research to determine which instruments could bolster our sound palette whilst staying true to the regions in which the game takes place. Characters, their arks and individual creatures will also play a big part in how and when you’ll hear certain elements of the palette. Once there was a strong idea in place, I began to work on some demo pieces to make sure the instruments in the palette complimented each other which as it turns out led to some fortunate accidents!
If you had to choose just one instrument or sound to convey the general mood of Instinction, which one would you pick?
Just one?! That might be a little difficult… The charango has definitely made its mark on the sound of Instinction. It not only has a mysterious quality for the eerie moments but it really has a beautiful tone that works against stunning biomes! We’ve been incorporating a lot of native woodwind and textures to bring the location to life – with Maleventum 2 heavily featured! It has a grittiness to it that other woodwind libraries just weren’t able to give us. I’m also a huge fan of the waterphone. It’s not something I’ve used often previously but it was the first instrument included in the palette.
You have some credits as a composer for movies as well; besides the technical aspects, how different is working in movies and games from a musical and creative point of view?
I feel like there is a bit more freedom in games than there is in film, especially with semi/open world games. With a film having a linear path, you know that by starting at A you will get to B. With games, the player is controlling the path we start at A but we might divert to D before getting to B. There is that bit of room to try out new ideas or a different approach.
As a final note, which artistic and professional advice would you give to someone willing to break in the game industry as a sound designer or composer?
I think the old clichés of keep practising/creating, don’t be afraid of rejection and keep knocking on doors always apply especially with how competitive the industry is today. They sound like the obvious answers every pro gives but there is a lot of truth in them. From my own experience? Don’t be afraid to be yourself: develop your own sound and look for ways to be that little bit different. Pitch for projects you know work to your strengths that you can enhance and never assume there isn’t more you can learn.
Looking forward to Instinction!
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