Greetings adventurers and future knitted knights! I’m Joe Thwaites, Co-Composer and Co-Head of Audio for Sackboy: A Big Adventure, here with our Music Supervisor James Marshall. We are so excited to see Sackboy nominated for a BAFTA Games Award for Music and now the game has been in the hands of new and old fans for a few months now, I hope you all had the chance to hear all the music that us This is the largest collection of music we have put together for a Sackboy track to date. The mix of music composed and licensed from an extremely eclectic selection of different artists and composers posed a unique challenge. How do you put all the musical genres and styles together to give Sackboy a distinctive sound? The answer: Sackboy needed a theme!
A hero and a friend
Sackboy is the center of the game and we really wanted to support his signature charm and humor with a piece of music that could be memorable, new and yet have a hint of nostalgia for longtime fans. It was a daunting task for such an iconic character with so much history and hours of great music already associated with the franchise, from The Gardens to The Go! Team. The franchise has one of the most unpredictable music collections of all time and distilling it into one piece of music was a pretty daunting task!
We also wanted the theme to give the game an overall, unifying sound that would help bring the narrative and gameplay elements together. So at the start of the project Jay Waters and I collaborated on a short suite of melodies that could be incorporated throughout the game, stitching together the seams of the musical patchwork we had started to piece together.
The first version of the theme was a simple collection of melodies, inspired by Sackboy’s previous adventures, which we shared with the songwriting team. We really wanted the theme to represent the cornucopia of musical sounds explored in the game, so we took elements from each of the worlds to help create a musical jamboree. We proposed a general musical palette for each of the worlds, which also helped to inspire our choice of composer who would take care of this world. These included:
The soaring summit is reminiscent of folk and psychedelic songs that longtime fans might find familiar. We worked with George King (also known as Catching Flies) who brought a truly contemporary and fresh sound to his compositions. Given the setting at the top of the mountain, the world music features oriental elements and instrumentation appropriate to the subcontinent. “Once upon a time in the eastHas been a great showcase for the interactive approach to music – the track not only expands as you explore areas of the level, but will also change based on the number of keys you’ve collected. It’s also one of the first tracks in the game to use the Sackboy theme, acting as a playful counter-melody. George also created “Snowballs, please!– a propulsive and energetic track with a touch of danger thanks to the capricious Yetis in the manner of Sackboy. Finally, George’s take on “MoveWas a perfect choice for breeding Scootles, with record scratching, Indian percussion and that infectious melody.
The colossal canopy features authentic South American instrumentation, as well as ethnotronica, gospel choir, and organic woodwinds. Brian D’Oliveira was the perfect fit for this world given his amazing work on games with lush jungles and mysterious temples. Brian has an incredible number of instruments at his disposal and you can hear them shine on his tracks. The levels in the world take place either in the leafy canopy or in the darker banana factories, with brighter instruments in the first and wacky synths mingling with tribal percussion in the second. His version of Depeche Mode “I can’t get enough
The Kingdom of Crablantis revolves around new interpretations of older styles of music including classical, jazz, swing and more. The underwater world production design featured a lot of shiny antique furniture and valuables, so revisiting older musical genres felt appropriate. Winifred Phillips, a longtime collaborator on the franchise’s music, used lush strings, angelic vocals and bubble-like sounds to bring Crablantis to life as can be heard in “Bubble waltz“. His interpretation of “Materialistic girl»Is a highlight of the game, the song reworked like an orchestral waltz that would not feel out of place in the Vienna concert hall. We worked with Jim Fowler who created a toe pat jazz interpretation of Grieg and there’s a happy explosion of electro swing courtesy of Glen Brown (including additional Sackboy-themed brass recordings to really get you in the swing of things!)
The interstellar junction is a pot history of electronic music, from concrete music to contemporary glitch-hop genius from our composer Opiuo. We knew we wanted an electronic sound that was bouncy but a little more intense, given that Sackboy’s journey got a little more dangerous. Opiuo is fantastic “Rut stutteringKick things off, before a little detour to his classic remix of Holst’s Planets (well, it’s Mars after all!). Both of these tracks sometimes respond to Sackboy’s location – listen to the beat that builds up on the downside depending on your location. Finally, Opiuo created the track “Clutch rocket»For which Joe then wrote a string arrangement. It’s an extremely fun track that features a nod to the Vex theme at the start (perhaps suggesting that things aren’t quite what they seem) and dips in and out of a 8-bit version, keeping things ironic despite the impending mortal danger. !
We won’t spoil other worlds – see if you can guess what their musical inspirations are!
As composers from each world mixed the motifs into their content, we iterated on the theme, reincorporating the sounds and instruments they had reused in its many melodies. You can hear the gospel choir from the Colossal Canopy entering the mix, space synths over the bridge, and a mandola from the Soaring Summit reinforcing the main melody, to name just a few of the jumble of instruments.
Each of the motifs in the theme represents different aspects of our Hessian hero and they are sprinkled throughout the score. The main melody represents Sackboy’s positive attitude and bravery in the face of danger and plays during moments of triumph, while the bridge serves to mark his development on the path to becoming a heroic knitted knight.
Lucky for us, we’ve worked with some absolutely amazing songwriters who have taken the theme and incorporated it into their tracks in all kinds of different ways. From the beauty of Lena Raine world’s map score where melodies float in and out, to Nick Foster’s explosive orchestra treatment in some of the cutscenes, the theme is woven into the very fabric of the game.
So much so that we went to the trouble of creating a little musical stinger for each level that plays the Sackboy pattern in the tempo, key and groove of the song that plays in the level. Details like this really anchor the music in the world and tie it all together.
So go play the game, listen to the soundtrack, and see if you can spot where we’ve referenced the theme throughout. Some are more obvious than others … Either way, we hope the Sackboy theme gives you an exhilarating blast of joy that you can hum along as you run, jump, and weave your way through Craftworld. .