Inside Control’s “musical puzzle” level and the rise of in-game bands

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If you’ve liked the audio work in action-adventure games like Control, Evil West, and the upcoming multiplayer extraction shooter Hyenas, then you’ll be a fan of the work from audio director Justin Andree. PCGamesN managed to grab Andree for a chat while at WASD 2023 in London, and we asked them all about how Control’s best musical moment came to be, and what to expect from Hyenas music later this year.

Andree was part of the reason Control pulled off one of its best sequences, when the song Take Control plays in the level Ashtray Maze. Take Control was specifically written for the game by the fictional band The Old Gods of Asgard, an alias for real-world band Poets of the Fall, a Finnish Rock group that’s provided music for Remedy games since Max Payne 2.

“I think we’re starting to see more ideas like that present themselves in games,” Andree tells PCGamesN at WASD 2023. “So my role in that was with was making sure the songs fit while asking ‘does this completely break the budget if we go for this one particular track?’ Trying to put the pieces of the musical puzzle together.”

You can see the Ashtray Maze level in action below, thanks to AKA HelloKitty on YouTube.

 

Andree goes on to talk about how games like Control and Guardians of the Galaxy are using in-universe bands and music to iterate on how music interacts with gameplay, and how that can influence how developers think about copyright issues that may crop up further down the line in their games.

“The concept of having Star-Lord as a band in Guardians of the Galaxy was genius,” Andree says. “Quite often when you’re thinking of licensing music to go in games, the immediate thing in the back of your mind is ‘we’re gonna get hit with takedowns, and what if we go on to a different platform that’s not prevalent,’ whereas Guardians was covered entirely.

“The Old Gods of Asgard do that in a similar way and provide for Remedy in their universe. They can freely wander through it all and tie it all together but then never really hit any of these roadblocks that you might come up against in terms of copyright restrictions.”

We also had the chance to ask Andree about Hyenas, and while they didn’t say much about the upcoming extraction shooter from the Total War and Alien Isolation developer Creative Assembly, we did learn something about the tunes.

“The music plays a monstrously huge part in it,” Andree tells us. “From different things that you will have probably briefly seen in trailers so far, there’s some really cool stuff.”

The Hyenas PC alpha can be signed up for, but we don’t have a release date for the extraction shooter just yet. In the meantime, you can check out our list of the best FPS games available on PC right now.

Interview conducted by Nat Smith at WASD 2023.

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