Gorgeous PS5 indie Ultros features sounds not meant for human ears

PS5 and PS4 platformer Ultros contains audio at frequencies above our hearing range. Is this a new marketing gimmick or will it unlock deeper immersion on PS5?

Gorgeous PS5 indie Ultros features sounds not meant for human ears
Luke Wakeham

Luke Wakeham

Published

Our interest in Ultros is already piqued. The game looks like a fever dream set in a Metroidvania garden of delights. But as we wait to see what’s in store for us with the Ultros trophies list, new information about Ultros’ PS5 audio design has us even more intrigued. Ultros is already at the top of our most anticipated PlayStation indies list, so we are more than ready to harvest this allotment of indie gaming goodness.

PS5 indie game Ultros has Audio beyond our wildest dreams (and hearing ability)

On a trip to the Amazon rainforest in Peru, to visit the lungs of the world and record audio for the upcoming indie game Ultros, composer Oscar Rydelius took with him a very special microphone. This microphone was able to capture audio at 96,000 Hertz (Hz). In an interview with TechRadar, Rydelius explained why he took it with him.
“Humans can only hear to 44,000Hz,” Rydelius explains, “So we were able to record sounds above our hearing. After this, we manipulated and pitched down the audio.”

This technique is one of the reasons why Ultros’ audio design is so distinct, and with any other microphone, these ethereal noises would have been lost.

“Even after manipulating the audio, I feel like people would still know where the noises are from, but then they would also sound a bit outlandish, alien-like.” Rydelius explains, “There was a lot of experimentation and work to try to find that perfect balance of familiarity and the unknown.”
This consideration for the sounds of Ultros complements the setting and visuals of the game. Ultros is a Metroidvania where the player crash lands on what the developers call “a giant, space-drifting, cosmic uterus.”

The game's graphics certainly evoke this description too. With bold, psychedelic colors, and dense, verdant natural environments that bring to mind something you might see if The Beatles released a modern music video for Octopus’s Garden. It won't be surprising to also learn that the game’s artwork designer, Niklas Åkerblad, worked on the similarly evocative Hotline Miami.

I appreciate that it might feel a little silly to travel halfway across the planet to record audio that people won’t be able to hear. It conjures up thoughts of Fitzcarraldo lugging a boat over a hill in the Amazon. One of the reasons that 1982 film is reverred is because they actually did haul that 320-tonne boat over that hill. The realness of the endeavor heightened the art.
So I’m looking forward to hearing Ultros’ sounds because, while I might not be able to hear 96,000 Hz, I can appreciate that a lot goes into sound design to create a texture that can heighten a player's immersion. The indie game launches for PS5 and PS4 on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

What are your thoughts on Ultros containing sounds that your dog can hear but you can’t? Are you interested in a new Metroidvania set on a cosmic uterus? If you’re still unsure, check out our Ultros preview and let us know all your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Luke Wakeham
Staff Writer Luke is the quintessential dabbler. He likes to have at least one open-world, one rogue-like, and one action-adventure game on the go at any given time. So, he’s a big fan of Ghost of Tsushima, Returnal, and The Last of Us. He likes to know what’s going on in the world of Sony and always has one eye locked to the business news and upcoming releases.
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