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Frequency Domain Is Your Brain On Synesthesia

Music is the epitome of sonic pleasure, so naturally, we’ve spent eons trying to see it because we will never be satisfied. Games are no stranger to that pursuit. The likes of Audiosurf, Symphony, and their ilk have interpreted music through the lens of various genres, but Frequency Domain might be the most direct attempt I’ve seen. The goal? To turn every aspect – each pulsing beat, humming strum, and snaking synth – into boundless neon volcano dance floors of rolling color. You speed along – a blur, a performer, an emotion – ramping off jutting spikes of sound and then cannon-ball colliding into the senses-engulfing tidal wave of music below. Sound dips in and out, other melodies soar about like dragonflies. Is Frequency Domain a “game” in the traditional sense? I don’t care. It gave me goosebumps, and you should absolutely try the free, four-song demo.

Sadly, the demo doesn’t feature any Daft Punk, but the available songs are still quite good – especially the fourth, in my opinion. You can shift between them by hitting the number keys. Also enjoyable: holding down space for speed that literally outruns sound. I ended up tapping it to each song’s beat, taking the game from surreal dreamscape dance floor to surreal dreamscape dance floor after having way too much to drink.

As of now, Frequency Domain’s far from complete, but the plan is to keep it free even once it’s crossed the finish line. Because each song requires a human touch to get it up and running (and soaring and gliding and tip-toe pirouetting across mountaintops), the initial release will feature a pre-selected set of songs. Eventually, however, players will be able to add and upload their own.

“I’m trying to expose every interesting part of the song to the player, parts that often get lost when you only have an algorithm attempting to analyse a song (often dismisses quieter frequencies as noise, etc). Later this year, my plan is to release a version which exposes the design tools I use in Unity to the players in-game, allowing them to load their own song and craft their own unique experience for any track. Depending on how people approach it a single song could have multiple unique interpretations!”

Exciting! Frequency Domain is already quite an impressive audiovisual experience, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing where it ends up. It still needs a little work (I managed to get stuck in the floor, leave the level entirely, etc), but there’s potential for something pretty special here. It probably won’t take over my life or anything, but I’m all for a quick jolt of synesthetic bliss every once in a while. Godspeed, Frequency Domain. Godspeed.

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Nathan Grayson

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