Horus Heresy: Drop Assault
Put together by the teams at Complex Games and Crooz, this Clash-of-Clans-style mobile game has been such a great experience for me. I’ve always wanted to work on a dark and gritty game with an epic orchestral score and I finally got to do it with this game.
And what a game it is. The controls are tight, there’s so much care and detail in the environment and so much attention to the Warhammer 40,000 lore. The graphics are really clean (but certainly not lacking in detail) and the animations are really smooth. There are no rough edges anywhere in the experience.
Here’s the trailer, to get you started:
Musically, it was a really big job, even though it was only 8 minutes or so. Because of the grandness of the universe, the score demanded a breadth that I don’t think is found in most mobile games. That’s not to say that it sounds as grand as film music, which I like on its own, but this score still needed to feel like it was for a game and I tried to keep that at the front of my mind and the edge of my pencil. Movie universes are nice, but there’s a depth that’s lost because of the forced progression of the narrative and scene structure – you can’t just hang out in a movie scene like you can in a game. The music of Drop Assault still has the structure and design of a game soundtrack and that’s super important to me.
The music is mostly orchestral, but featuring extended percussion like a tom ensemble, taiko drums, shakers or tam and gong. Because the universe is so mechanical, I had the urge to put chains and gears in it, but I thought it might be overkill with the SFX (which are awesome, btw). In many of the big pieces, the low strings drive the ostinato, so finding the right string ensemble was key. The one that I ended up using has 24 sampled celli and 8 sampled double basses, which is about two-to-three times a normal orchestral low string section. That’s not to say that there still isn’t ample non-string writing – there’s a lot of epic brass and moving woodwind lines too. This game is one of those few times where I really wanted to use every spice in the spice rack.
I talk about the music further in this developer diary entry from Complex Games:
I’m really proud of this game (and its music, to be honest) and I hope that you all pick it up and give it a go!