How Silent Hill's Akira Yamaoka Got On Xbox Series X-Exclusive The Medium
Makers of Layers of Fear and Observer told us about their Silent Hill fandom and how they got composer Akira Yamaoka on board.
Horror fans had quite a bit to chew on during the Inside Xbox stream that showed off a slate of games coming to Microsoft's next-gen console--one of which is the Xbox Series X-console exclusive The Medium. Before the reveal, we spoke with the developers at Bloober Team (known for Layers of Fear, Observer, and Blair Witch) about their upcoming game, and we had to ask: how did Akira Yamaoka get involved?
Yamaoka is best known for his work as the composer and sound director for the Silent Hill franchise. He created a tremendous blend of heavy industrial rock and downtempo alongside the horrifying and suspenseful sound design; and now he's lending his talents to Bloober Team's next game. Lead designer for The Medium, Wojciech Piejko, told us the quick story of how the partnership came to fruition, prefacing, "We have been raised on Silent Hill. So when we got in contact with Akira Yamaoka, I was super excited and super nervous."
"We met after the Tokyo Game Show. Akira-san came to meet [with us] and he was without any agent, so I was thinking, 'Okay. This will be a great evening.' And we showed our game to Akira-san," Piejko told us. He continued, "Back then we were developing The Medium and Blair Witch. And we said to him that we were working on the two projects and we would really love to show The Medium to him. And of course, we asked if he wanted to create the music and score for our game."
"He just put the headphones on and watched our gameplay there. And I was sitting there, waiting and nervous. I was like, 'I hope he will like it, I hope he will like it!'" Piejko recalled. Following the suspense came a great sense of relief as he continued, "Then Akira-san put the headphones down and said something like, 'You guys mentioned that you're making two games. I want to make both of them.' I was like, 'Yes, yes, yes!'"
The partnership came to fruition specifically for The Medium, and with the official reveal during the Inside Xbox stream, you actually got to hear some of the new tunes Yamaoka made for the game. Yamaoka also appeared in some behind the scenes footage, publicly confirming the partnership.
Bloober Team CMO Tomasz Gawlikowski also chimed in to express his hype and said, "For us also, it's a great story, but also because Yamaoka-san is really getting back to the horror genre with our game. We are huge fans of Silent Hill, too, we even use those fixed camera angles [in The Medium]." He also wasn't afraid to let his fandom show, telling us, "It's really come together. We're super excited to have him on board. Just to be able to make a game that Akira is making music for, that's, for us, really a dream come true."
On the note of fixed camera angles, The Medium is a bit of a departure from Bloober Team's previous works, which have used the first-person perspective. And when it comes to new perspectives, it's a theme that The Medium is also centered around. You play as a medium who is haunted by visions and investigates the death of a child by navigating two distinct worlds: the real world and the spirit world. That distinction will also be made clear in the game's music. Piejko told us that the work is being split; Bloober's composer Arkadiusz Reikowski is taking on the music for the real world while Akira Yamaoka is leading the composition for the spirit world.
It seems that the collaboration is pretty tight as well, as Piejko told us that Yamaoka has visited the studio in Poland on three different occasions to play the game with them. But while this professional partnership is a big deal for all involved, it hasn't prevented Bloober from fanning out with Yamaoka. Piejko concluded the anecdote, saying, "He also let us turn into fans and ask him for autographs on a lot of games, and vinyl records, and stuff like that."
We have more coverage of this upcoming Xbox Series X-console exclusive horror game, and in case you missed it, we also have the first reveal trailer above. Be sure to read our full interview with Bloober Team about how The Medium is taking full advantage of next-gen hardware (with a brand-new feature that they still can't tell us about) and how they created the premise for the game.