Craftworld’s highest score — The music of Sackboy: A Big Adventure

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Craftworld’s highest score — The music of Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Learn how Sumo Digital stuffed the PS5 platformer with so many surprising songs.

Well here we are… Sackboy: A Big Adventure has finally hit the shelves. Bursting with the most incredible roster of new (and old!) music, and built on a completely revamped interactive system, the soundtrack is by far the heftiest we’ve ever assembled for the franchise. So I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few insights into what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years, as well as touch on what you can expect to hear when you embark on your own Big Adventure. No spoilers though!

Craftworld’s highest score — The music of Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Media Musical

We’re all huge fans of the original LittleBigPlanet games, and many of us have worked on the franchise for quite some time now, so we’re naturally passionate when it comes to respecting its musical heritage.

As both composers and supervisors for Sackboy’s latest outing, what we considered incredibly important was having the freedom to assemble a uniquely eclectic mix, with a focus on elevating the gameplay experience and a willingness to make some brave choices.

With this in mind, the two key questions for us at the outset were: ‘how can we honour the soundtrack’s legacy yet evolve it in new directions?’ and ‘how can we broaden the scope whilst continuing to introduce fans to new and exciting music?’

The answers to these questions we thought (well, hoped!) lay in diversifying the content even further; in expanding in all directions. So we looked at raising the stakes with more mainstream artists, yet pushed further in our endeavours to discover new talent. We explored music of a more vintage nature whilst combining this with modern production techniques. We worked even more closely with established artists and we broadened the search for unique new composers. And above all, we had a lot of fun, constantly looking for opportunities that might raise a smile from the player.

Jukebox Hero

As you may already have read in Ned’s excellent blog post, variety was one of the key pillars when planning out the design direction. There was a strong desire for every level to feel unique, for the game to continually surprise the player with new and interesting game mechanics. We thought it only right that we support this with the music, so we made it our ambition to provide a unique musical experience for every one of the game’s core levels. A major aspiration for me personally was to leave players not only thrilled by the current level, but also excited about what was to be uncovered in the next.

We have a wealth of original compositions, from both new faces and franchise favourites, as well as some really exciting artist exclusives. There’s an unprecedented roster of licensed music, which spans an entire century and features everything from burgeoning new talent to superstar DJs and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. We also wanted to look at ways in which we could experiment with a few new ideas, so have worked a number of original remixes and mashups into the soundtrack, not to mention a few more recognisable songs reimagined in a new light!

Putting the ‘Play’ in Playlist

Interactivity was always a really big deal for us. Whereas previous titles have made great use of interactive music with the composed tracks, licensed music has tended to remain a fairly linear experience. For Sackboy: A Big Adventure we wanted to rethink how we could work with licensed music – specifically how we could arrange those tracks so that they become more of an integral part of the experience.

So we made a call to implement all music interactively, be it composed or licensed. This means that every track in the game is broken down into instrumental layers as well as edited into its component sections. This allows us to not only rearrange the mix in realtime but also to choreograph the arrangement so that it adapts to the player’s actions and whereabouts.

What this means from a player perspective is that each track feels much more meaningful to the experience. The music builds through the opening moments, it evolves with the narrative, it responds to your actions, it crescendos, and it concludes the action. And the fact that we’ve been able to do this with a King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard song is a massive bonus!

As well as the tracks themselves, we also wanted to explore how we could push musical interactivity into other areas of the sound. Quite a large number of the sound effects are rich in tonal elements, so we began thinking: ‘Can we implement these sounds in such a way that they become more intrinsic to the musical experience?’

This ultimately led to the development of both harmony and rhythm systems. These allow the sound designers to create sound effects that adapt to the key signature of the accompanying music track, as well as synchronise those events to beats and key motifs.

The outcome of this is that we now have an ensemble of sound effects effectively singing along to the soundtrack – everything from checkpoints to collectabells, level badges to key UI events. Even the disconcerting buzz of an approaching Boomblebee!

The natural evolution of these systems subsequently allowed us to create a number of, shall we say, ‘more standout’ musical set-pieces. We wanted these levels to be a more distinct experience, to feel more akin to a music video, and we wanted players to feel like they were starring in that video. However, there was also a strong desire to avoid a linear, on-rails approach that would essentially force the player through the levels. Instead we geared the design towards allowing the player to inhabit a world infused with the song, with the beat, flow and even lyrical references turning the game into one big dance party.

Anyway, that’s about enough from me for now. The official soundtrack featuring all of the bespoke music releases today across all digital platforms and you can listen to it here. We’ve also compiled an official playlist of most of the licensed music, which you can find here.

We’ve had a real blast putting this soundtrack together and I’m so excited to finally get it into your hands (and ears!) Like the game itself, it’s bursting with joy and has been a real labour of love for the whole team. There’s so much fun to be had and so many minute details that will make you smile. And I think we could all do with a bit of that right now!

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15 Comments

  • Loved the soundtrack. The psych rock (aka Futurama) level was my fav.

    Any chance of an update on when the co-op update patch is coming?

    • The soundtrack was excellent and the music levels were a joy to play. I expected Sackboy to be a short game and easy platinum….not the case. Plenty of content and a challenging plat. Grab a friend and play this on PS5, u will not regret it.

  • Loved how the soundtrack synced with the gameplay.

  • Sackboy is one of the best co op games and platformers I have ever played. The teamwork levels were incredible, the gameplay was tight, and the DualSense implementation was solid. I loved getting the platinum and I’m ashamed of fellow gamers for not paying more attention to this stellar game.

    Sackboy is fantastic, great reviews, runs well, and has a native PS5 edition yet most ppl would rather buy Cyberpunk 2077…

    8 million pre-orders for a broken mess and Sackboy doesn’t even have 100k players… shameful..and Sackboy is a PlayStation mascot.

    • I’m confident that the low sales volumes are down to the RRP. I’d quite like to buy Sackboy but its current price puts me off. If there were no other ps5 games to play it might be in with a chance but the competition’s fierce and unless it has a price drop it doesn’t stand a chance.

    • Agreed OP. Sackboy is the type of game I want to play. I hope they make more. This time around Sackboy really felt like PS’s Mario in terms of being a mascot.

  • Been slowly working my way through this – almost didn’t pick it up, SO glad I did. It’s taking a while because I’m not doing any solo play – only couch co-op with one of my kids (not a bad reward for keeping caught up on chores and homework), and we’re having a blast. We’ve definitely experienced the excitement at wondering what’s coming next, and the excitement of starting a level and realizing this is a music level – though in a way they’re all music levels, there’s still something special about the ones using variations of familiar music.

  • This game is absolutely a joy to play, especially with friends and couch coop. The music is great! If you haven’t done so already pick this gem up.

  • Beat it over the weekend and it was amazing, loved the music and how it synced perfectly with gameplay.
    I still have lots to play even after finishing: looking for collectibles, ace levels, and the insanity on the knight challenges.

    Hopefully we can have an update on the online co-op patch soon.

  • I still have plenty of the game left to play, but so far I honestly feel like if there was a award for “Best Combination and Use of Original and Licensed Music”, Sackboy would win this hands down. Not just for this year, but all-time for me so far too!

    Both the original score AND the use of licensed music has been absolutely incredible and is making the game a real joy to play!

  • I’m looking for a ps5 and can’t get the information that I need. Can anyone please help

  • When and how can I get a PlayStation 5 console?

    • Follow Wario64 on Twitter. That’s how I got mine. But be respectful as he cannot guarantee that you’re fast enough to pre order.

  • This game is amazing. The soundtrack is amazing.

    I was so excited to see a big platformer like this come out and you guys poured so much love into it. And co-op at that!

    I really hope it does well enough to warrant a future for this type of Sackboy game.

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