Voice acting is often considered to be a difficult field to break into, but a new report penned by GLHFManaging Editor Kirk McKeand suggests that new AI innovations may soon replace human voice actors altogether. The article lists development studios Neon Giant and Ninja Theory—the teams behind 2021’s The Ascent and 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice respectively—as two prominent studios that have already put this into practice. With that in mind, Ninja Theory quickly took to Twitter to clarify its position on artificial voice acting.
In a response to a question posed by Twitter user ImAlwaysBoyo, Ninja Theory asserted that, while it has implemented AI voice acting in the past, it was only ever intended for placeholder use early on in a development cycle. Artificially-voiced lines of dialogue are, according to the developer, later swapped out for genuine performances by actual voice actors. Ninja Theory has long been held as a paragon of video game development, and many fans will be pleased to see that it does not plan on cutting any corners in regard to voice acting.
Thus far, respondents on Twitter seem to have been assuaged by the explanation, and Ninja Theory’s transparency on the matter bodes well for the upcoming Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. A long-anticipated sequel that was first teased in 2019, the new title will likely build on the deeply personal and intimate story of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrfice, but that can only be done effectively by way of passionate, serious, and convincing voice acting.
This isn’t to say that the voice-acting algorithms in question weren’t surprisingly lifelike; the technology in question comes from the pioneering company Altered, and, from the demos that have been made publicly available, the tech is capable of putting together some surprisingly fluid samples. It’s posited that, in the coming years, studios will be able to employ this technology to introduce a diverse cast of voices to games when something like that wouldn’t otherwise fit in a smaller budget, but it could also be used to diversify NPC voices in extremely broad games such as the upcoming The Elder Scrolls 6.
From what’s been seen so far, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 looks to be near the cutting edge of video game visuals, and it may be fair to expect Ninja Theory to innovate in other ways, as well. However, voice acting is an integral part of the presentation, and, as exciting of a prospect as AI voice acting could be, it’s something that should really only be employed within certain parameters.