PAX Prime 2013 DigiPen Feature Game
Return to the Sky is a side-scrolling platformer that has players attempting to escape the maw of an ever hungry beast. You play as Polaris, the north star, who has witnessed all of her fellow stars be ripped from their place in the sky by the civilization below, to be used as a new source of power. Eventually, the society below is forced to abandon their beloved city after it succumbs to pollution. Unable to stay in the sky, Polaris is torn from her home by the monster and now must escape it.
It was half way through the development process when Rigid Fluidity approached me to be their sound designer. “Can you create cyberpunk Indian techno music?” they asked. Having never attempted such a thing before I was excited to decipher exactly what that meant musically to create a fitting soundscape for the game.
As I do with most projects, I began by listening to a number of different pieces for inspiration. To get a good feel for Indian modes and common motifs I turned to famous Sitar player, Ravi Shankar. This gave me a good starting place for Indian, but the team wanted edgy and rhythmic. So after running a number of style samples by them, I finally settled on a blend of Indian instruments and motifs in a modern rock setting. In one of my favorite pieces from the game, I enjoyed writing a “dueling banjos”-esque segment between electric guitar and sitar.
To tell the story behind this game, the designers felt the best way would be through narration. The protagonist, Polaris, was who they chose to tell the story. As one of the only women on the team, they approached me to do voice over for this part. I was more than happy to oblige, as I really enjoy doing voice over work. However, this made recording sessions a bit difficult at times. Luckily, I was able to rope in some friends to help make recording myself easier. One of those friends, turns out, made a great (scary) smog demon.
Return to the sky was a fun adventure in a different style for me. It’s a pretty short play through, so see the link below and give it a go!