Indie Interviews: Sonority (Gamescom)

Currently in an alpha stage of development but coming from German developer Hanging Gardens Interactive is Sonority, a puzzle game with a strong emphasis on music where playing notes and melodies lets your progress through the environment. A trailer for the game was just released, so we checked in with the team to find out more.

What inspired you to create a game like Sonority?

Sonority has always been about the fusion of music and puzzles and the core mechanics are evidence of that. There are also a bunch of games that have inspired us. Shadow of the Colossus has been a big influence on our game designer Willi, so the feeling and theme of it is pervasive throughout Sonority. The puzzles from Portal and the Talos Principle have inspired the environmental puzzles of our game. Lastly, Zelda is a game series that our team collectively loves, we actually call Sonority Zelda without a sword.

What makes Sonority different from other puzzle games?

We are unique in that the concept of music puzzles has not really been explored thoroughly. The way our puzzles and environments react to melodies is distinctive and we hope to take that congregation of gameplay and musicianship to a level that no one else has.

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How have you been developing the visual style for the game?

A lot of work on the visuals is yet to be done, but we have already found some great concept artists we are working with (that will all be posted on https://twitter.com/SonorityTheGame) to really establish what Sonority will really look like at the end of development. The current art style is mostly done by our resident 3D Artists Vlad, who has been working tirelessly to get Sonority to where we are currently at.

What can you tell us about the team that’s working on Sonority?

Hanging Gardens Interactive is a new and independent game studio from Germany. We love creating and exploring our own worlds with childlike curiosity and make games that bring people joy but also invigorate their minds by providing innovative gameplay for all ages.

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The team consists of five dedicated puzzle and adventure gamers, three of which are also musicians. Having done contract work before, we are now incredibly happy to be working on our first very own game and even more humbled that Sonority was already given a bunch of cool accolades at the German Computer Game Awards.

What makes developing a game like this especially challenging?

Mechanically, music is very hard to wrap your head around, so to make the game accessible for non-musicians was a difficult first step in the development. This is still an ongoing process and we continually playtest to keep Sonority approachable for everyone.

Secondly puzzle games are hard to design in the best of conditions, the balance between challenge and frustration is a hard one to strike, with Sonority there is a third element, sound. We want our puzzles to not only be balanced when it comes to their difficulty, but also sound great. Our goal is to make every puzzle a piece of music, a pleasant melody, not just a random assortment of notes.

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Did the Covid pandemic affect your development?

Since our company is relatively small, we have not felt the impact of Covid too much when it comes to our day to day work. But since we rely heavily on playtesting and have done most of it in person before 2020, we are trying to build up a community of active play testers and people just generally interested in Sonority on our discord. If you are interested in participating just visit us! https://discord.gg/8hXJG9C

When the game releases, what do you hope people will take away from the experience?

For players who have never made music themselves, we want to show that it is not some elite club that only people who have started playing violin at age five belong to. Sonority wants to send one message above all others.

Everyone is a musician.

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