When Journey composer Austin Wintory joined the development of Assassin's Creed Syndicate (opens in new tab), he didn't know what to expect. Turns out, neither did Ubisoft. According to Wintory, Ubisoft didn't come to him with a list of do this and do that, but rather asked him how he envisioned a Victorian-era Assassin's Creed.
"'Nothing is sacred,'" Wintory recalled audio director Lydia Andrew saying, so nearly quoting the series' own mantra of "Nothing is true, everything is permitted." So Wintory experimented.
Wintory explained during a recent GamesRadar+ How It's Done livestream (opens in new tab) that he was given free reign to explore the game's musical development as he saw fit. He explored various methods of composing, though hesitated to actually call the process experimental. "One person's 'experimental' in the world of music is another's extreme conservatism. To them, experimental is … a concert that's three violins, a cell phone, and a horse."
Okay, so an Assassin's Creed game is never going to have that sort of avant garde soundtrack. But as far as annual, AAA games go, Wintory's work is still quite the shift.
And while Syndicate's musical inspiration wasn't four-legged in nature, it does come from someplace unexpected: dancing. "At one point I said, 'What if all the combat music feels more like dancing and it's all sort of like quasi-Viennese waltzes?'" Wintory recalled. "And they were like, 'Uh… well, interesting. I guess we'll just have to hear it.' And I thought, 'This is the moment that I'm either gonna be fired or they're gonna say 'We gotta reel this weird dude in.'"
Instead, the developers praised Wintory's work, applauding his waltz-like melodies and claiming they'd found "the heart and soul" of Syndicate. "I always figured after Journey, there was never gonna be an experience that could hope to live up to something like that, because it was such a wonderful thing to be a part of," Wintory said. "[Working on Syndicate] was just like a dream. It's surreal."
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