Sound design tends to get lost when you're enjoying a video game. By that I mean it's the kind of element you don't actively notice. It makes sense: if sound design is done right it's probably best you don't notice it. It should simply be part of a seamless whole, right? Yes, I suppose. But at the same time, it is cool to recognise the folks that work hard on this underappreciated aspect of design. In this great Gamasutra article, Journey's sound designer Steve Johnson goes in depth on the different types of sounds used in the game, and how he managed to produce those sounds! Interesting stuff.
My personal favourite part of Journey were the calls, the button you pushed to try and vocalise during co-op. It always seemed to be contextual and, despite the fact you have no real control over what is being said, it felt as though you were in control.
Incredibly, the sounds are a mixture of processed bird sounds and human vocals...
They are a combination of re-pitched and processed birds, along with musical elements provided by composer Austin Wintory himself. Austin made musical parts for each type to compliment the score in each of the levels, and when close to another player, there are falling variations from your character, and rising variations from your companion.
The buried vocal is Lisbeth Scott, the singer of the final credits track, who is also the main element of the angelic white ancestor figures.
We considered mapping different calls to different buttons or the D-pad, and even a sort of wah-wah to the right analog stick, but one button was just better — like the simplicity of the one button in Shadow of the Colossus. The call mechanic is more context- and distance-based in that game, and we wanted to give more control for co-op expression, but I'd still consider Shadow of the Colossus very much an inspiration.
I definitely recommend heading to Gamasutra to read the whole article, which is a fascinating insight into a side of game production we normally don't hear about.
The Sound Design of Journey [Gamasutra]