Case Study: How I scored Důkaz 111, an audio-only noir game

Důkaz 111 is a mobile audio-only game where your choices change the story. You hear the action and dialogues through your headphones, and you choose your actions through simple swipes on your phone screen. This makes it a game that even visually impaired people can play, which I love.

I met the creator of the game, Tomáš Oramus, in a VR event in Prague. We randomly ended up talking and we got well along. I was immediately fascinated by the idea of an audio-driven game.

Half a year later we met again at the Game Developers Session in Prague, where he asked me to make the music for the game. The game was being built with FMOD and I had experience with it, so it felt like we were a good match.

Důkaz 111 is a Noir detective story set in the 80s. We agreed that the ideal soundtrack would be a mixture of atmospheric Jazz Noir, like this...

...but also of 80s synths, not unlike The Wolf Among Us.

The biggest challenge (and the most fun) would be to find an equilibrium between these two genres. But that's what I love to do with soundtracks: unexpected blends of music genres.

This search for the right tone was apparent in the various iterations of the Main Theme track. The first version was pure Jazz, which we later decided to use as in-game diegetic music playing from a radio (I composed most of this track on a public piano in Prague's airport while waiting for a plane to Spain):

The second version was Synthwave-y and more epic, but we later discarded it and used it somewhere else in the second half of the game

This is how we got to the final version of the Main Theme: Tomáš used one of the in-game tracks as provisional menu music. The guy who wrote the screenplay loved it when trying a beta of the game, and he thought it was a great main theme.

I think that the opinion of the screenwriter (or Game Designer) should have an influence on the soundtrack, so we decided to use that track as Main Theme - though I rebuilt and gave it a more memorable melody:

This final version has the synth-y texture of the second version while preserving part of the feel of the first version. The main instrument is a Rhodes keyboard (from Cubase's VST HALion) blended with a synth and processed to create the dizzying stereo effect.

This sound is used in various other tracks to give consistency to the soundtrack, most clearly in the Menu Theme:

If you listen closely, you will find that this melody from the Main Theme appears in almost every track of the game. initially, this was intended to be the protagonist's theme (Alice), and each other main character would have its own melody. Still, the final result ended up being better with one motif subtly repeating all over the soundtrack. This created a bigger consistency, which helps tie together the Jazz+Synthwave blend.

Most of the 80s sounds, including the horror parts, were made with the Analog Dreams VST by Native Instruments.

And for all the piano parts, I used the VST Addictive Keys (I love it!) and played them myself. In most parts, I used a slightly detuned piano sound to give it the right flavor.

And that's it! The game received good reviews, and I'd love to work on a second part if it ever happens. You can find the entire soundtrack on Bandcamp.

Games with good music sell more

I'll teach you how to ensure your game ends up with a great soundtrack.

Join my newsletter