What are your thoughts on sound/music in this game?

[This is long and mostly some thoughts on how some elements of the game’s music and sound may be clashing with one another (along with visuals, but I don’t go into that).]

I personally consider music/sound to be a very important part of a game. For every game which had a soundtrack that was memorable, it continues to exist in my mind as a favorite. For every game that didn’t, it’s been almost entirely forgotten unless for some other extravagant reason. What makes a soundtrack “good” though? Isn’t that just entirely subjective and down to a person’s tastes? Perhaps that’s mostly (or entirely) true, but I’ve got this belief that some things just mesh together in ways that most can appreciate, or these things can also conflict in ways that most will dislike (though tends to never be addressed, or is confused).

I’m not particularly an enthusiast though, so it’s mostly just catchy tunes that stick when it comes to music… like in Original Xcom’s case, it had some catchy music like that general Xcom theme (during interceptor chases, or the intro screen) and continues to be something I like to listen to and inject into other games (getting that desire during Festering Skies interception minigame) Loved the remake in Xcom2, it was hard to hit the Deploy button. Not all the music was catchy though, some just made me nervous and worried constantly like the tactical music. Despite being nothing particularly impressive, it has been drilled into my mind like a nightmare… and I love it. Repetitive, with a bit of “ethereal twinkling” and other sound effects. Once mixed with gun shots and death wails/screams, I feel it really worked well together.

With Phoenix Point there is this song which comes very close, but something seems to be missing. When I hear a soldier say something like “Ready to Engage” it seems to clash with the background music. The sound and music work against one another. The music is saying “This is a bad situation, be worried. Be careful.” and the soldier is saying “Nah bro. I got this.” There is no fear in his voice (and wouldn’t it be odd if there were?) I do however want to credit that sound that is created with the dynamic music during long-range grenade launching as being memorable and impactful. Was sweet when it first occurred (remember from a year ago) and still sticks as being something cool… but that’s about it. :frowning: The “Necrofauna” song on Youtube is nice, admittedly, but it doesn’t evoke anything and I’m not even sure if I recognize it in game after playing this for hundreds of hours… maybe Lairs/Nests (things I generally hate doing). Don’t know why that is exactly.

Sounds like gunshots or explosions (and most of the music) are, in my opinion, fine. The sounds of the characters themselves are conflicting. From the sound of a soldier dying, or a soldier being ready… something is really off. There’s no real screaming in this game (or if there is, I don’t remember where - though I tested by killing my own soldier and just a meager “yelp” with a more prominent “dashing” sound effect in the music), and nothing horrifying despite the game seemingly trying to be scary in some ways. What seems to be missing in this game is horrifying screams and roars. Even the “Psychic Scream” sounds weird and more irritating than fearful. From what I remember with the Scylla, it sounds kind of weak for its size and even a bit laughable (which accurately represents its difficulty, I suppose… but I’d like to believe we’d all want both to be improved). When searching on Youtube for Scylla sounds, all I found was this, which a bit more terrifying in my opinion but may or may not at all be related to this game (seems like some fan collected stuff from movies, maybe a fan of PP).

Compare that with the basic shrieks/roars from Xcom (which a lot of the sound effects I believe were just taken from a general asset pack, as I swear I recognize them in other things). I feel there’s a huge opportunity lost here by not including more screams and death sounds at least, especially for civilians - but especially in the background. Subtle creepy music + people crying in agony = something memorable.
Side note: Surprised/disappointed to not see humans in the process of transforming within Nests/Lairs, mutating in agony or even mindlessly lingering about… harmless and just background decoration or even potential recruits to be rescued (or killed to be put of their misery). They could’ve just moaned even, and added to the atmosphere in a way that was reminiscent to original Xcom’s bodies and parts strewn about in alien labs/containers - That is a very significant memory.

Then there’s the UI
In my opinion, PP is severely hampered in this category and I’ve got a hunch it’s doing the game’s reception a bit of harm. (But maybe that’s just because I’m really picky with sound?)

UI on several fronts (visual, not just sound) is very :grimacing:… it works, and its tolerable at best. Sound effects are generally :confounded:. I think almost all things related to the UI though could and should be considered for serious improvement for a generally more pleasing experience. I can’t tell you how annoying I find much of this to be, in a way that I don’t generally experience when playing games. I wonder if this is just me who finds the UI sounds to be so irritating to the point of disabling them entirely, which I also don’t like having to do.

Final thoughts:

  • the fanfare music during the “Mission Accomplished” screen I could seriously do without (or would prefer something better… but the “Mission Failed” music is good - a bit ironic) Both are tied to “UI sounds” so when disabling sounds, neither of them play oddly, despite being more like music.
  • how irritating/pointless the cutscene for the aircraft flying before a mission is (that can be skipped though. and now has to be because it’s just a never-ending black screen)…
  • that drumroll at the beginning of a mission is just :tired_face:.
  • removing a lot of this irritation can be done by setting the UI sound to 0, but suddenly it’s like the game is on mute next to the odd voiceover/cutscenes(which don’t play for me anymore), gunfire/footsteps and music - “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” situation
  • The game does the “We’re heroes, and we’re here to kick ass!” and “It’s Effin Scary out there!” in odd places. Original xcom gave the hero vibe during interception and the games intro cinematic, and the fearful vibe during missions (along with a “Let’s process this” vibe during the geoscape layer). Phoenix Point gives a fearful vibe all throughout but interspersed with bits of hero vibe and they don’t blend together all that well. I don’t believe it’s so much that one is better than the other and that both can’t be in the game, but that they’re not placed apart from one another enough as is what’s being seemingly revealed to me by comparing the two games.
  • New Xcom had voices on soldiers, but really doubled down on the “We’re heroes” vibe. The entire game was cartoony in every single way, and really came off like a modern marvel movie, but it worked and knew what it wanted to be (despite not being my preference, and I’d say Chimera Squad was an enjoyable romp with regards to all of its aesthetic choices… especially the viper strip club :joy:). Original Xcom had its own comicbook-like stuff in it, as seen in the intro cinematic, but had its more serious tones with it as well, which could be seen in the operating rooms and tactical battles in general and no voices on soldiers to clash with. - Seems like an interesting conundrum was developed, one I wouldn’t of expected either, with no obvious solution. (but this might just be my impression and mine alone - so I’m curious to what others may be thinking)

But if I could make a request (or two), it would be: Can I get a separate option for disabling voices (not death sounds, just the talking)? I want to see what that experience would be like. (And a separate and simple UI sound pack)

I really appreciate the ambient music in PP. For most games that I play more than twice, I end up turning down the music, as it becomes annoying.

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