To get this week started, we would like you to tell us about two games – one of which might require a bit of research. Firstly, what is the most visually interesting game you have seen or played? Explain how the art direction (character and environment design, colour palette, post-processing, etc) supports the gameplay and narrative.
The most visually interesting game you have seen or played?
“The experience draws inspiration from the deep innate narrative that we all carry within our subconscious: the story of ABZÛ is a universal myth that resonates across cultures. The name references a concept from the oldest mythologies; it is the combination of the two ancient words AB, meaning ocean, and ZÛ, meaning to know. ABZÛ is the ocean of wisdom” (ABZÛ 2016).
Art Director, Matt Nava worked on Flower and Journey for Thatgamecompany before Giant Squid Games brought us ABZÛ. Giant Squid games have also released a new title, The Pathless, which I have not played yet, a mythical adventure game again looking visually stunning/interesting.
“One thing that’s interesting is that Journey was a desert game, just void of life. After that, I was thinking, “I want to make something green. I want to make something full of life and movement. Everything you touch should be animating.” That was part of the reason I chose the underwater environments for this game. They’re so vibrant. It gives us options to create these lush kelp forests and everything else.” (Matt Nava in interview)
“We always wanted to create this serene world, but we realized if you added conflict, it brought the player deeper into the world,” said Nava. “If there’s something ugly, it makes players more appreciative of beauty” (Lang 2016).
Special mentions: Botanicular/Mechanarium/ Child of Light Tengami/Astrologaster
Secondly, please find a game that makes a big impact while using a simple or minimalist art style. Understanding how such games succeed visually is of special significance to game developers in the indie market, where art budgets are typically small and players aren’t necessarily looking for photorealistic visuals, but rather an interesting gameplay experience. Please don’t all choose Thomas Was Alone or LIMBO – they are both brilliant examples of minimalism, but they are already discussed elsewhere on this module. Please post your response in the forum. We encourage you to also comment on some of the other posts. Did you have a different opinion of the game another student chose?
A big impact while using a simple or minimalist art style
“Everyone loves picnics” (Arnaud De Bock 2016)
Fig 1. https://store.steampowered.com/app/384190/ABZU/
Fig 2. https://eu.rgj.com/story/life/2016/09/01/fish-are-friends-abzu-review-technobubble/89723390/
Fig 3. https://eu.rgj.com/story/life/2016/09/01/fish-are-friends-abzu-review-technobubble/89723390/
Fig 4. https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/pikuniku-is-a-colourful-dystopian-puzzler
Fig 5. https://store.steampowered.com/app/572890/Pikuniku/
Fig 6. https://store.steampowered.com/app/572890/Pikuniku/
‘ABZÛ’. 2021. [online]. Available at: https://abzugame.com [accessed 1 Mar 2021].
‘How Journey Art Director Matt Nava Went from Sand to the Underwater World of Abzu (Interview)’. 2015. VentureBeat [online]. Available at: https://venturebeat.com/2015/06/10/how-journey-art-director-moved-on-from-sand-to-underwater-world-in-abzu-interview/ [accessed 1 Mar 2021].
LANG. 2016. ‘“Abzu” Game Creator Finds Endless Inspiration in the Sea’. 2021. [online]. Available at: https://phys.org/news/2016-08-abzu-game-creator-endless-sea.html [accessed 1 Mar 2021].
‘PikuNiku Interview (Arnaud De Bock)’. 2016. WORDS ABOUT GAMES [online]. Available at: https://wordsaboutgames.net/2016/09/28/pikuniku-interview-arnaud-de-bock/ [accessed 1 Mar 2021].