Sound Byte: The Futuristic Sounds of Remember Me

Composer Olivier Deriviere explains the thought process behind the orchestra and electronica fusion of Dontnod's upcoming memory restoring-themed action adventure.

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The upcoming Capcom and Dontnod sci-fi action title Remember Me features a world where memories can be altered by corporations in the futuristic metropolis of Neo Paris. With this interesting concept in tow, musician Oliviere Deriviere had the challenging task of crafting the music for this game's world.

Part of Deriviere's inspiration came from the world itself. "I feel very lucky, since Remember Me is a completely new world. Because [its setting is] futuristic, there is a lot to explore and experiment with musically."

Deriviere said the electronic stylings of Aphex Twin helped narrow down his direction in music composition. His other influences in crafting Remember Me's sci-fi soundtrack were the music of '80s sci-fi films like Blade Runner and Marathon Man. "A lot of [these movies] take their references in 19th-century music. This is one of the reasons I used a symphonic orchestra. Although Remember Me takes place in a futuristic Paris, you still have buildings from the 19th century; it makes sense to keep the cultural history of the city within the music," he said.

Deriviere said he was entranced by the personal journey of the game's main character Nilin, a journey that is laced with self-doubt. "The music is not an illustration of the world, but reflects the inner emotion of Nilin," he said. Her quest to restore her memories is reflected in the first song players will hear: "Nilin the Hunter".

The track's mixture of synth, electronica, and orchestra sets the tone for the entire game, with the song's stuttering and raw, unfinished feel highlighting Nilin's confusion and stoicism. Deriviere said the full piece only plays at the end of the game as a way to signify Nilin completely recovering her lost memories at the journey's end.

Speaking of orchestra, the composer feels that the way he used the Philharmonia Orchestra at Air Studio for the background music was unique. "In the game, an organic form's memory can be digitized. The creative director Jean-Maxime Morris has decided that this idea has to be reflected in the soundtrack, so he and I decided to create an acoustic recording, digitize it, and then manipulate it. When [players] hear the live orchestra, people may think the electronic [layer] of the song is a synth, but it's not. It's the manipulation process of the actual orchestra," he said.

Coming up with the technique to modify the orchestra's recording and making it sound "synthetic" and electronic was a big challenge for Deriviere. "Since the game follows Nilin's memory reconstruction, most tracks are reflecting her quest. Throughout her journey, you will have different themes, but at one point, you will hear all of them on top of each other like a counterpoint."

The theme of conflict is most obvious with the track "Fragments", as it is one of the early combat themes in the game. The tune made frequent use of a synthesized voice sample saying "memory" that accompanies the dynamic pacing of the electronic music. The theme of abuse of power is prevalent in the track "Memoreyes", which is named after the corporate antagonist of the game, Memoreyes. Deriviere said that this track portrays the omnipotence of the company, and how it messes people up with its technology.

The track "Hope" also brings in the theme of comfort, as it plays during key moments between Nilin and her close friends. Deriviere keeps the track's electronic manipulation to a minimum to make it natural sounding, as well as to give out positive emotions from its slow tempo and strings. The central cue that ties the music together is the track "Memory Reconstruction". While the tune starts out in a gentle manner, its static effects and incompleteness teases a larger composition that reveals more layers as the game comes to a climax.

He feels that the Blade Runner musical influences helped in tying the score together. He followed composer Vangelis' method of complementing the dark atmosphere of Los Angeles 2019 with soft, major key, and contemplative music. He said that creative director Jean-Maxime Morris wanted Neo Paris' dark atmosphere to be hidden beneath the surface.

Deriviere finds it hard to nail down a genre for what he has made. "People are used to hearing a hybrid style between electronic and orchestra, but Remember Me's music is not that. It's difficult to explain that the electronic you hear when the live orchestra is playing comes directly from its manipulation," he said.

The music's overarching theme of recovering lost memories also hints at the game's story secrets. While the track "Fragments" is anything but subtle in its delivery, Deriviere assures gamers that voice samples are synthesized discreetly throughout the entire soundtrack just for that touch of mysteriousness. Listen to "Nilin the Hunter" carefully, and players can hear the words "remember me" etched within the track's purposely fragmented form. "I'm not sure people will notice all the details in the melodies and harmonies," the composer concluded, "but I can tell you that it is a lot of fun to spread clues in every track…and a lot of work!"

Action game fans can experience the full aural bliss of the game's sci-fi-themed hybrid music when it comes out on June 4.

Discussion

34 comments
ali_manslayer
ali_manslayer

I want to play the game just because of this now

Optimizm324
Optimizm324

This is making me want to buy the album. Nice music, indeed!

gbrading
gbrading moderator

Got to say the music sounds amazing. Love the amalgamation of classical orchestral with Electronica. It does feel very Vangelis.

Lhomity
Lhomity

Love this music. I have Remember Me pre-ordered and paid in full, waiting to be picked up on launch day. I can't wait to get my hands on this game.

gammameggon
gammameggon

The score in a 16 minute demo I saw was brilliant. This game looks like classic fun, with an interesting story. Definitely getting it.

whitejackel
whitejackel

Ghost in the shell is what it kinda reminds me of.

focuspuller
focuspuller

Fifth Element meets Total Recall & Blade Runner.

JBo796
JBo796

No backwards compatibility? I'm not spending a single more cent on games this gen.

Kyrylo
Kyrylo

What's all this psyche about this game? It's mediocre, why even bother?

ABIBASS
ABIBASS

leave total recall alone


RAD_RADIO
RAD_RADIO

That first track is like Radiohead's In Rainbows mixed with metroid prime mixed with blade runner mixed with 70's era Genesis.

WantYouBad
WantYouBad

The girl and dat ass will sell this game.

ashgitt
ashgitt

i'm actually looking forward to this.  I'm one of those idiots who pre-ordered this but in uk we dont pay till release :P i will see reviews before then....but i do have a good feeling about this game :D

brunocj2
brunocj2

All the hype they're building about this game, it's so blatant. "The Soundtrack", "female protagonist", "new trailer", "new gameplay video".... I bet it's gonna flop and some idiots will have pre-ordered it.

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

You CAN have a female protagonist and an ambitious idea and be successful. This game needs to prove it so we can get more games like it!

joshhi
joshhi

I wasn't sure about this title, but those sample tracks just sold me on this game. Impressive! I love how, for several years now, videogame scores have been treated with the same kind of effort, thought and respect as scores for big hollywood productions. 

Bring it, Deriviere!

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

I was freaked out to see Nilin looking like a damn vampire...what the hell is with the picture lol? 

Besides that, I'm loving this music. Already listened to a few tracks, and it separates itself from most music in that it actually sounds like glitched music.

Earl-of-Death
Earl-of-Death

I usually don't listen to electronica, but the electronic manipulation of the orchestra music is well done in my opinion. Really looking forward to this game if the gameplay and story are as good as the sound track.

loafofgame
loafofgame

"A lot of [these movies] take their references in 19th-century music. This is one of the reasons I used a symphonic orchestra. Although Remember Me takes place in a futuristic Paris, you still have buildings from the 19th century; it makes sense to keep the cultural history of the city within the music."

So using a symphony orchestra and applying contemporary film musical conventions is keeping the cultural history of the city within the music? That is taking it way too far in my opinion. I know the guy needs to sell his music, but you don't have to make it more unique than it is. The manipulation of the orchestra is nicely done, but for the most part this music is standard cinematic music.

That doesn't mean I don't like it, by the way. I like it very much.

On a more general note, I'd like to see more features on how game music actually works in games and what choices the composer has to make to ensure smooth transitions during gameplay, without sacrificing the affective effect (as described in this article for example). I mean, the fact that game music often has to react to the player's actions is what makes it unique and what separates it from film music for example.

RIIIIKU
RIIIIKU

The Game have Really Good Music thats for sure, but am still Sceptical about the rest of the game (Gameplay, Story, etc.) 

Thnx for the article Jonathan :)

pathosfire
pathosfire

One thing I really liked about all the gameplay demo footage I've seen on YouTube is the music.  Definitely a selling point for me.

mystwade
mystwade

so interested in this game....this games music was almost the selling ticket for me. Gotta support new IP´s 

mountain_k
mountain_k

@scoobdog02 Hasn't the recent Tombraider already achieved just that? Anyway, another game with a well written female central character wont hurt.

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

@cuddlyfuzzle Why? What is so bad about playing as a girl, when you're a guy? Girls who have to play games as men usually don't complain.

ashgitt
ashgitt

@petez34 @scoobdog02 lol petez bit harsh like.. I dont mind playing either (im a guy btw) but a lot of people i know wont even buy a game and take the piss out of it eg "Tomb Raider" just because it's a female main character.  In reality i laugh at them because they miss out on great games!!

petez34
petez34

@scoobdog02 gonna go out on a limb and say it's personal preference! He doesn't like playing as a girl. You have no problem with it so don't feel so butthurt about what others like and don't like. 

WantYouBad
WantYouBad

@scoobdog02 @mountain_k @pongley Never liked the Tomb Raider series. Was always a dull game, the reboot was even worse. And you're talking to a guy whos played Super Princess Peach.

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

@mountain_k @pongley Tomb Raider was fine for me. It was a great reboot, but it didn't sell well. People sat that it's because the main character was female. That may have been the reason, because some people are so shallow that they can't look past gender to see if the game is good.