Dark Tones

by Lars Essers

How can singing or talking be used differently in games?

2022 | Graduation Work | Game Development | Gameification

How does one create a set of gameplay mechanics that make the usage of song interesting and fun?

In my opinion, the usage of singing has been overdone and has become boring as all the games I've found use it in the same way, namely karaoke games. In my opinion, singing can be used in a different way that can revitalise its usage of it in the video game space.

Secondly, if singing is used as a primary means of controlling a game this can benefit the inclusivity of said game, think of people that don't have a wide range of motion in their hands for example.

While the usage of singing has long been integrated into a game genre, in my opinion, because the usage of singing has been developed into its genre, which isn't being innovated upon anymore, the genre has become stale and boring.

I wanted to create a new and exciting set of mechanics using singing to make it enjoyable again, among other reasons.

From this, the game Dark Tones was born.

Dark Tones is a game that falls within the Sidescroller and Platformer genres with a twist, in this game the basis for the mechanics is built on the usage of singing. The game is built using Unity.

The game has three separate mechanics involving singing and work similarly, but they have different purposes.


Create Ground

In this mechanic, the player needs to hit notes to create a new piece of ground so they continue through the level.

Turn On Light

In this mechanic, the player needs to hold one note for a certain amount of time to make ignite all the candles on a chandelier so they can see where they are going.

Mini Bossfight & Bossfight

In this mechanic, the player fights either a miniboss or a boss, the player needs to hold a random note for a certain amount of time to shoot at the boss.


All of the art for Dark Tones has been made using Adobe Illustrator.

You can look at the artbook here

My position as a game developer

I see and want to place myself as a mainly 3d modelling-focused game developer that has a wide range of knowledge about all the game development aspects. This includes coding but world design and game mechanic design as well. This project is perfect to be used to illustrate my knowledge of the above-mentioned.

My experience as a game developer

I started with game design back in 2013 when I took a course in game development at my then school. We were taught the basics of modelling and coding and I immediately fell in love with it, so much in fact that I even continued with modelling and coding in the years that I quit school. I participated in a couple of global game jams and for the minor that CMD requires I took the minor of Game Design & Development at Hogeschool Rotterdam. For my internship, I again went with a game development-based assignment.

My favourite games and styles

My favourite games are the soulslike games, specifically the Dark Souls games. I find the style and gameplay of these games appealing in a way that no other games can match. These soulslike games are mostly linear, as in you can’t go to an area you're not supposed to be in. The way these games accomplish this is mostly through the use of stronger enemies in one area and the use of passages that are locked up until a certain point.