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Giving Voice to the Horrors of Autopsy Simulator

Many gruesome discoveries await players when Woodland Games’ long-anticipated “Autopsy Simulator” launches on Steam on June 6. I had the distinct (and terrifying) pleasure of managing the casting and voice direction throughout the game’s evolution from a medically accurate sim to a character- and story-driven mystery thriller.

Join me now for a spoiler-free behind-the-scenes peek at giving voice to this spooky, graphic, and psychologically demanding video game script.

Characters May Suffer, But Actors Shouldn’t

In “Autopsy Simulator,” we play the part of Jack Hanman, a pathologist who is just barely keeping it together after the loss of his wife. But death is a constant in his line of work, and the influx of corporeal cases won’t solve themselves. 

When we first started casting for Jack, the game’s priority was to challenge players with a variety of realistic autopsies created with the input of real forensic specialists. Much of the early script focused on Jack’s real-time recording of the autopsy process and his findings into a dictaphone. This aspect alone required our main actor to describe a lot of bodily trauma in graphic detail. Lucky for us, voice actor Patrick Langner took up the challenge without even a flinch. 

As development continued, Woodland Games tapped into their community’s growing desire for a strong storyline and greater worldbuilding around the game’s clinical autopsy mechanics. This evolution introduced a whole new layer of psychological turmoil for Jack (and therefore Patrick) as his cases started to share unexpected connections with his troubled personal life.

Patrick was a trooper as his recording sessions evolved from descriptive bodily horror into dramatic, psychological anguish. Each of these dimensions requires a large amount of physical, emotional, and mental energy, so we limited our sessions to two hours at a time with ample breaks for hydration. We find it’s ideal to record no more than two days in a row if possible, but when another day is needed in quick succession, we find it’s best to put at least a half day’s break between recording sessions.

It’s tempting to keep plowing through a script when you’re having fun, especially when deadlines are tight, but prolonged strain of any sort can put both performers and voice directors at personal and professional risk. We always prioritize honoring reasonable recording limits, especially when roles call for cries and screams of terror, because all voice acting draws simultaneously on physical, mental, and emotional faculties. 

Performing With Surgical Precision

Since “Autopsy Simulator” prioritized realistic procedures from the start, professional accuracy was super important for our vocal performances as well. Woodland Games constructed its cases and gameplay with the careful consultation of true medical and pathomorphology experts, so we did everything we could to mirror a professionally accurate approach in our recordings. After all, no pathologist or mortician would mispronounce the precise medical terminology required to document their procedures.

With proper pronunciation guides scrounged up in advance, Patrick and I dove headlong into the game’s multiple twisted cases. The precise, medical nature of the game’s content brought back memories of my mother’s nursing studies when I’d overseen a variety of instructional videos on our home TV and sheets with anatomical diagrams strewn about the house. While I clearly didn’t follow in her clinical footsteps, our work on “Autopsy Simulator” tapped into these memories and more, including a distinctly crafty and creepy spirit I recall from growing up in the hometown of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” 

Romero’s proud local legacy is what made gross, practical Halloween effects a hallmark of my Pittsburgh childhood and eventually led to me co-writing odd projects like “Evenings in Quarantine: The Zombie Opera.” If not for these formative experiences, I’d likely have been more squicked-out when recording such a graphic script for “Autopsy Simulator.”

Haunt Early and Haunt Often

Unlock Audio’s greater involvement in “Autopsy Simulator” stemmed from our previous collaboration on Woodland Games’ quirky colony management sim “Hell Architect.” I and many of my Unlock colleagues tend to maintain a vested interest in our partners after a project is done. As such, after voicing Lilith in “Hell Architect,” I kept tabs on Woodland’s community boards for the chance to show support for whatever would come next. When the first discussions opened up around their new forensically oriented development, I was instantly hooked, and it wasn’t long before Unlock was tapped to cast and capture performances for the early simulator demo. 

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to bring voice directors and other audio creatives into the development process early. With our early involvement in “Autopsy Simulator,” we were able to align quickly for a swift demo build. Following the demo’s successful reception, my continued presence in Woodland’s Discord server kept us apprised of the community input and the game’s evolving creative direction, preparing us for the next big sprint. 

As the script began to grow, three new characters were added to the cast, and the emotional dynamics of our pathologist protagonist transcended the professional and clinical. With new dimensions in play, we worked more closely with the Woodland team to provide our voice actors with additional details to help dial in their performances to match the twists and turns of the game’s branching storyline.

“Autopsy Simulator” is easily some of the darkest material I have ever worked on with Unlock Audio and in general. Having seen how the production progressed from the inside, I hope players will come to realize Woodland’s careful appreciation for and incorporation of community feedback to create this terrifying game. All in all, we had an incredible experience bringing voice to the game’s mind-boggling medical mysteries and exploration of the darker recesses of a troubled mind. 

Tidy up your case files, unravel the mysteries, and plumb the depths of a terrifically tortured psyche when “Autopsy Simulatorlaunches on June 6!

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