In Spanish

«The main difference between Dead Kings and the rest of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is that this game is extremely dark»

altHe is one of the most prominent composers of music for video games and has attended a couple of times to Playfest, our Festival of Music, Animation and Video Games, held in Fuengirola. In this interview he talks about his score for Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings, new installment of this legendary saga.

-How did you get involved in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which, with the exception of Jesper Kyd, did not have a fixed composer, even less in the latest chapters, with a multitude of them.

I got a call one morning from my friend Manu Bachet, the audio director at Ubisoft Paris. He asked if I’d be interested in working on a new game with him. We’ve worked on lots of projects together before like ZombiU and Beowulf, and I always love working with him, so I of course said «yes». Then he told me it was going to be Assassin’s Creed! I love this franchise and I knew what a great opportunity it was.

-What attracted you the most to the project?

I always jump at the chance to work with my friends at Ubisoft. And when they present me with the opportunity to work on one of their biggest franchises, it’s a no brainer!

-How did you face such an important game series saga as this one? What elements did you take into consideration?

As you mentioned, there have been a lot of other composers on this series. I wanted to do something that felt like it would fit right in with what’s come before, but with my own specific style. I also wanted to really explore some interesting, dark sounds with the orchestra and not rely too heavily on electronics. Using electronics in a situation like this can sometimes be an easy way to achieve dark textures, but I find that experimenting with interesting combinations of winds/brass/strings can be much more satisfying in a situation like this.

-The soundtrack gives us a sense of a modern style, but with touches of music more typical of the historical period in which Dead Kings occurs. Is it an approach that you had clear from the beginning?

Yes, it was a conscious effort to have the orchestra playing in a more modern style and then supplementing that with period-style music. If we had gone for a strictly Baroque/early Classical feel the whole way through, while it would have been more historically accurate, it would have felt too forced by today’s sensibilities I think. 

-It’s a harpsichord you’ve used in some segments of the soundtrack, isn’t it?

Yes, there’s lots of different harpsichord techniques in this score. Besides using it as a melodic instrument, there are also plucks and scrapes of the strings. I took audio files from single notes and slowed them way down to sound like clockwork as well. We decided from the very beginning that the harpsichord would be a featured instrument. I also supplemented the harpsichord with other struck-string type instruments. Combining things like hammered dulcimer and violas playing col legno is one cool way I found to alter the sound of the harpsichord and make it feel like a new instrument.

-All this research to provide a certain historical time frame to a soundtrack through its instrumentation is something that, from our point of view, demonstrates an important work behind it, something that, unfortunately, not that many composers are allowed to do or they do consider it worth it of their time. Hence it is perceived that you had enough freedom to compose this score. Is it that assessment true?

Taking the time to develop a unique sound for a soundtrack is something I strive to do on every project I work on. If a developer like Ubisoft is willing to hire me to score their game, I owe it to them, the fans, and myself to do my best work. Working with Manu on Assassin’s Creed though – he always has such a specific idea for the tone of the music. He had a general idea for the score before I ever came on board. I did a couple of test pieces first to establish a style we all liked and then I just let the game inspire me.

-«Hidden Temple» is a spectacular cue from the soundtrack. How was the process of composition?

«Hidden Temple» is one of my favorite cues from this game. There was this one moment in the whole score where I didn’t have to cater to its dark nature. Instead, I was asked to compose something that was awe-inspiring, or almost religious in nature. When I’m permitted, I’m quite a melodic composer by nature, so a track like this is one of my favorite things to write!

-What did you see different from the rest of the chapters and what did you see as similar as in previous installments?

The main difference between Dead Kings and the rest of the franchise is that this game is extremely dark. The music had to reflect the fact that most of the game takes place underground in the catacombs. So this particular score misses some of the «fun» vibe that other chapters have. The gameplay is essentially the same though, lots of sneaking around, climbing up walls, running on rooftops, and of course…fighting. So I really tried to maintain the essence of what the music from Assassin’s Creed has been, while taking it on a slightly twisted journey.

-How did you use those differences/similarities in your work and your music?

Honestly, I approached Dead Kings as if it was a standalone game. While I certainly tried to respect the previous scores and write something that would be complementary, I wanted this music to speak for itself. I had such an amazing time writing the music for this and I just hope that it stands up to the others and that people enjoy it!


David Doncel Barthe


Cris Velasco is a multiple award-winning composer of epic orchestral, dark experimental and modern hybrid music scores for video games, film and television. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in Music Composition, Velasco pursued his passion to write music for visual media; his first major release was composing for Sony’s blockbuster God of War.

A prolific and versatile composer, Velasco has become one of the most sought-after composers in interactive entertainment, scoring many major titles including Company of Heroes 2, Mass Effect 3, Borderlands 2, ZombiU, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, God of War 3, Tron: Evolution, Borderlands, God of War 2, Darksiders, Clive Barker’s Jericho, Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings, and many more. 

Assassin’s Creed Unity:
Dead Kings

«Welcome to Saint Denis»

«Memories of Elise»

«Hidden Temple»


Official website of Cris Velasco: