So many of the games you see at PAX have one of two aesthetics: either grimy & grim, or antiseptic & shiny. So when I saw the handmade look of Incredipede, I had to stop and ask what it was. (And I mean that literally: I had to ask. Incredipede didn't have a booth of its own, or even a sign. Lead developer Colin Northway was just using another booth's monitor screen until their regularly scheduled presentation was ready.)
Northway says the game's distinctive look was created by woodcut artist Thomas Shahan. "Thomas hadn't done games before, but he just really nailed it. He would sit there with a Wacom tablet and 'cut' lines on the screen, the same way he would for a woodblock print."
The archaic, organic feel perfectly complements Incredipede's build-an-organism gameplay. And that's no accident. The look was inspired by "old botany books from the 1700's," Northway says. "During the age of exploration, every expedition would have a botanist on board, to document all the new plants they were seeing. Imagine what it was like to be in England at the time and get one of these books! We're trying to capture that."
Incredipede comes out for PC and Mac in October. Here's hoping it heralds something new in video games: a return to the old.
We'll be stumbling through PAX 2012 like a mad-scientist monstrosity, all weekend long.