We all know that sound design plays a pivotal role in creating truly immersive games, and God of War Ragnarok is no exception. Sony Santa Monica clearly went all out on ensuring every crunch, snap, and splat in Kratos’s latest PS5 epic passed the ear test, but one sound in particular hits a lot closer to home for one of the studio’s designers.
During the final chapters of Ragnarok’s story, you’ll end up in a place called the Spark of the World – a wondrously mesmerizing locale that immediately conjures up visions of the Pillars of Creation for space nerds like ourselves. This is, perhaps, a pertinent comparison because, as it transpires, the bassy heartbeat we can hear emanating from the area comes from the beating heart of senior sound designer Alex Previty’s then-unborn daughter.
Responding to YouTuber ‘Kaptain Kuba’ on Twitter, Previty says that he managed to capture the sound “via the 3.55mm output of a baby doppler” – how cool is that? The designer goes on to explain that “the longer tonal elements are from a children’s choir warming up in a gymnasium,” before sharing the two samples pre and post-production. When asked if the heartbeat had been slowed down – fetal hearts beat at a much faster rate than what we hear in-game – Previty confirms this is the case, noting that it was done not only to slow the pace, “but also to make it sound larger.”
Sound design in videogames is a fascinating topic. Whether it’s 343 utilizing an adorable pug in Halo Infinite, fruit and vegetables being mangled to create Fatalities in Mortal Kombat 1, or senior foley artist Joanna Fang’s own noise-making for God of War Ragnarok, the imagination required to turn one sound into something completely different, yet familiar, cannot be understated.
Previty isn’t the first father-to-be to immortalize their sprog in pop culture lore, either. For example, Matt Bellamy – frontman of British rock band Muse – recorded the heartbeat of his then-unborn son Bingham using his iPhone for the 2012 track ‘Follow Me’ (The 2nd Law is a grossly underrated album, by the way).
Not only is Ragnarok one of the best PS5 exclusives, but it’s one of the best PS5 games to grace Sony’s console. If this heartwarming recount doesn’t inspire you to pick up Kratos’s Leviathan Axe and get swinging, then our God of War Ragnarok review should do the trick.