About the Project

NoReturn is a post-apocalyptic RPG in a dystopian world far into the future. Since the annihilation of the old world followed by centuries of merciless conflict and naked survival, a new civilization has emerged: the Zentrum, a gigantic city full of advanced technologies. But these technologies are not for everyone, people are enslaved, and those who do not want to live in this system must continue to live in the Badlands surrounded by mutants and bandits.

Developing the sound

First task for us was to stay true to the RPG world and their players, so we concentrated on capturing the locations and moods of the different situations. From the very beginning we were able to identify two main locations, the Zentrum, the mighty and progressive city, and the Badlands, reigned by bandits and mutants.

The focus in the storytelling is on the conflict between these two worlds. A particularly hard result is that none of these worlds is white, hardly grey. Both are dark, hard and brutal, each in their own way. This hardness, which is also a marked aspect in the gameplay of NoReturn,  I wanted to emphasize first, so I developed the title song focusing on this:

The Main Theme of NoReturn, in the style of a trailer track, with a lot of raw and brutal force

The Sound of the Zentrum

Even though this song represented the game excellently, I wanted to develop two quite different sounds, which should have neither thematic nor sound-technical similarity. I wanted to separate the two worlds even more.

The development of the Zentrum sound came very naturally. I wanted to show a clean, elite city that was so progressive that its inhabitants, and especially its masters, felt sublime above all else. I quickly came up with the idea of this continuous, mixed culture, created from everything that was left over from the old days. A culture that was shaped by electronics, but the elite circles appreciating ancient and precious artifacts, as some kind of status symbol.

This resulted in the mix of string quartet and synthesizers in Ecce Zentrum. But I didn’t want a classical string quartet with dubstep beats, I wanted more of a fusion. Therefore, the string quartet is never complete, sometimes consists of only two or three voices. The missing voices are replaced by electronic elements to weave the music more together. Etheral Voices, Dulcimer, Sitars and Gu-Zhengs expand the instrument selection so that it seems more wildly thrown together: as if a foreign civilization had found all these things and did not know what to do with them.

Ecce Zentrum might have some of the electronic sound design from the main theme, but goes in a very different direction

How to ensure you have two different Sounds

After I had two standing concepts, I brought Peter on board, an old friend and fellow musician. Without showing him what I was doing for the Zentrum, I just explained to him what my concept for the Badlands was and then let him go to work.

Peter created this wild mix of progressive metal, fusion jazz, horror-like atmosphere and matching wasteland instrument, which is probably best heard in Flyblown Thoughts.  

The jazzy harmonics and weird rhythms, together with even weirder instruments make up for a very creepy atmosphere

But Loco Loco Wasteland, the title song for the city of Wasteland, which celebrates itself and its diversity to the Zentrum, is definitely worth a listen.

Well, this is what you could call Wasteland-Metal

Fight The System then stands for the inevitable conflict between the two cultures. Here Peter and I worked closely together and created a hard mix of synthesizers that were supposed to represent the power and violence of the center as well as wild electric guitars and percussion to represent the independence fighters of the Badlands.  

One of my favourites. I always enjoy working hands on together with other musicians

I think this gives a good overview of the range of the sound we developed for NoReturn.  We hope you have as much fun in this wild world as we had,

Peter and Jan