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Returnal Wins Best Game, Audio & Music At BAFTA Games Awards 2022: Inside the Sound

PlayStation 5's Returnal was the big winner at the 2022 BAFTA Games Awards last night, winning awards for Best Game, Music, Audio Achievement, and Performer in a Leading Role for Jane Perry as Selene Vassos.

Returnal is a third-person shooter roguelike video game developed by Finnish firm Housemarque and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was released for the PlayStation 5 on April 30, 2021 and follows Selene, an Astra scout who lands on the planet Atropos in search of the mysterious ‘White Shadow’ signal and finds herself trapped in a time loop.

In terms of the audio, the game takes advantage of the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller and Tempest Engine to support advanced haptic feedback and 3D spatial audio, enhancing the player immersion experience.

Helping secure the game’s win for best audio were Returnal’s supervising sound designer Loic Couthier, principle technical sound designer Simon Gumbleton, senior sound designer Ash Read, senior sound designer Peter Hanson, sound designer Lewis Everest, and senior sound designer Harvey Scott.

The game’s supervising sound designer and audio lead, Couthier explained how the team brought their 3D audio expertise to the game in order to achieve the most immersive experience on PS5, showcasing Tempest audio and Dualsense haptics:

“The overall direction was to craft an unconventional and unsettling atmosphere, as well as satisfying gameplay with lots of feedback to help the players make sense of the challenging combat situations,” he explained.

“‘Unconventional’ meant an exploration of creative ways to express the soundscape of Atropos, avoiding any comfortable stereotypes, while still guaranteeing believability of the world. It was a collaboration between the sound team and the Housemarque directors, who pushed us to go well beyond the ‘safe’ zone!

“The believability and physicality of the world is expressed through detailed sonic textures that can make the game feel very tactile and 'crunchy', through the creation of ASMR source material and the combination of sound with haptics. It all comes together as a nuanced and tactile experience, which blends and compliments well with the abstract nature of the atmosphere, music and narrative.

“On top of bringing the game's unique aesthetics and gameplay to life through sound, we wanted to craft a tasteful showcase of the latest audio advancements coming with this generation of gaming,” he added.

“3D audio immerses the players into the experience, but is also naturally acting as a central element of the gameplay (as opposed to a gimmick). It intuitively helps the players to be better and survive in a truly difficult game. There is a lot of verticality in the level design and combat, which is a perfect match for a three-dimensional audio experience!”

The believability and physicality of the world is expressed through detailed sonic textures that can make the game feel very tactile and 'crunchy'. Loic Couthier

Returnal’s soundtrack is by British composer, artist, music producer and musician Bobby Krlic, who is known by his stage name The Haxan Cloak. The Haxan Cloak has released two full-length albums (2011's The Haxan Cloak and 2013's Excavation), and as a producer, Krlic has worked with artists including Björk, Father John Misty, Khalid, Troye Sivan, Goldfrapp, serpentwithfeet and The Body.

Krlic has also composed several soundtracks, including Ari Aster's 2019 horror film Midsommar, and television series Snowpiercer, Angel of Darkness and Reprisal.

On the Playstation blog, Krlic explained his approach to Returnal’s soundtrack:

“[The game] is really about one person’s determination to get to the bottom of this mystery that’s surrounding her. There are so many different things to speak to: there’s determination. There’s sadness, confusion. An ever lingering threat and horror that never really subsides through the game. It’s figuring out how to then have all these things complement each other and theoretically have them be a bit like a liquid jigsaw; everything tessellating together but also keep moving along.

“It’s not often actually that I go back and listen to things,” he added. “I’ve actually gone back and listened to [this soundtrack] purely in a narcissistic way.. And I think it’s music that I’ve been wanting to make for a really long time. It’s music that I haven’t found an application for in other schools: what I’ve done is music that I haven’t made purely for myself.

“Building things, custom synths, using a theme, then breaking that theme down to its DNA and reassembling it… there’s so many musical elements to this that I’ve just found really stimulating. I think it made something that – for me – sounds really fresh to my ears, in terms of my catalogue.”

It’s music that I’ve been wanting to make for a really long time. Bobby Krlic

BAFTA Games Awards 2022: Full Winners List


Audio Achievement


Winner: Returnal


Nominees:


The Artful Escape

Call of Duty: Vanguard

Deathloop

Halo Infinite

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy


Music


Winner: Returnal


Nominees:


Deathloop

Far Cry 6

Halo Infinite

Psychonauts 2

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


Best Game


Winner: Returnal


Nominees:


Deathloop

Forza Horizon 5

Inscryption

It Takes Two

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


Animation


Winner: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


Nominees:


Call of Duty: Vanguard

It Takes Two

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Life is Strange: True Colors

Psychonauts 2


Artistic Achievement


Winner: The Artful Escape


Nominees:


It Takes Two

Psychonauts 2

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Resident Evil Village

Returnal


British Game


Winner: Forza Horizon 5


Nominees:


Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Death’s Door

Fights in Tight Spaces

Overboard!

Sable


Debut Game


Winner: TOEM


Nominees:


The Artful Escape

Eastward

The Forgotten City

Genesis Noir

Maquette


Evolving Game


Winner: No Man’s Sky


Nominees:


Among Us

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Apex Legends

Disco Elysium – The Final Cut

Fortnite


Family


Winner: Chicory: A Colorful Tale


Nominees:


Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Forza Horizon 5

Mario Party Superstars

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Unpacking


Game Beyond Entertainment


Winner: Before Your Eyes


Nominees:


Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Game Builder Garage

It Takes Two

Psychonauts 2



Game Design


Winner: Inscryption


Nominees:


Deathloop

Forza Horizon 5

It Takes Two

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Returnal


Multiplayer


Winner: It Takes Two


Nominees:


Back 4 Blood

Call of Duty: Vanguard

Forza Horizon 5

Halo Infinite

Hell Let Loose


Narrative


Winner: Unpacking


Nominees:


It Takes Two

Life is Strange: True Colors

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Psychonauts 2

Returnal

Original Property


Winner: It Takes Two


Nominees:


Deathloop

Death’s Door

Inscryption

Returnal

Unpacking


Performer in a Leading Role


Winner: Jane Perry As Selene Vassos in Returnal


Nominees:


Ozioma Akagha as Juliana Blake in Deathloop

Jason E Kelley as Colt Vahn in Deathloop

Jennifer Hale as Rivet in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Jon McLaren as Star-Lord/Peter Quill in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Erika Mori as Alex Chen in Life is Strange: True Colors


Performer in a Supporting Role


Winner: Kimberly Brooks as Hollis Forsythe in Psychonauts 2


Nominees:


Laura Bailey as Polina Petrova in Call of Duty: Vanguard

Jason Cavalier as Drax in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

Maggie Robertson as Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village

Han Soto as Gabe Chen in Life is Strange: True Colors

Alex Weiner as Rocket in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy


Technical Achievement


Winner: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart


Nominees:


Forza Horizon 5

Hitman 3

Psychonauts 2

Resident Evil Village

Returnal


EE Game of the Year (Fan Voted)


Winner: Unpacking


Nominees:


Chicory: A Colorful Tale

Deathloop

The Forgotten City

It Takes Two

Metroid Dread

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