Why Howl’s “Living Ink” Aesthetics Aren’t Just a Gimmick

You play as a deaf heroine, who is tasked with saving the world from a terrible disease spread by howling wolves. Worse those struck down by this disease turn into wolves themselves.

In order to achieve this task you partake in turn based action where you have to play cards and outmanoeuvre several hazards thrown at you across sixty stages.

But Howl is more than just a very tidy strategy game, it’s also amazing to look at thanks to its “living ink” art style. The development team at Mi’pu’mi Games said that the aesthetics were tied into the game’s focus on prophecy and folktale.

They said: “The game’s central theme of a dynamic prophecy, being written as you play, inspired us to present the game as an illuminated parchment come to life. A large part of this was coming up with a way to show ‘Living Ink’ instead of static ink, dead on paper; the colors should flow, morph, and travel across the page as you ‘illustrate’ the game by playing the game.

We wanted to make the game feel as if it all takes place on one long, continuous piece of parchment, each level part of the prophecy, written out by you. Illuminated by the page, the color would seep in from the darkness surrounding this endless scroll. We referenced a large number of illuminated manuscripts, watercolor art, and picture books in order to come up with an aesthetic that is close to a fable and created static images to illustrate the visual target.

All the while, we considered what it would look like if the ink was flowing before our eyes. We wanted game scenes to be drawn gradually. First, the outlines, then outlines flooded with color, and lastly the color to be continuously animating and alive, reminding the player that the pages they are reading are malleable and being created as they play.”

There were difficulties when developing this unique visual style though, as you’d expect. But the development team managed to conquer this issue and make sure the game was playable as possible despite the incredible eye-catching aesthetics.

They said: “One challenge we had with the watercolor tech was to make the levels feel alive and moving, while also keeping levels readable as grid-based puzzle games need to be! If colors bleed too much into each other and overlap, then levels would become hard to read and play, as players need to be able to easily count distances between their character and enemies.

We found a compromise by using lineart that clearly shows the boundaries of each tile and the being in that tile, while letting the watercolour itself spread a bit more freely outside of those confines. This captures the look of flowing watercolour, while still keeping the game easy to overview and interact with.”

However such a visual style could be seen as style over substance, but the game’s development team have made sure the aesthetics are actually an intrinsic part of the experience.

They explained: “The idea that the player is writing their own prophecy while playing by painting a piece of art is something we haven’t seen that often in games. The metaphor of an endless scroll that is written or painted while you progress your own story is a very strong and immersive element of the player’s experience.

The game is presented as a piece of parchment, with the color and lines coming together as you play. We wanted the color to come alive before the players eyes, to remain fluid and in motion, until they’ve completed a level “inscribing” their unique playthrough of a level into the parchment.”

So ultimately Howl is a rare mobile title with substance to back up its style, and best of all it’s free to download on the App Store and Google Play.

Please note that to unlock the full game you do have to pay a fee, but it’s well worth doing so to experience one of the best strategy titles on mobile.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button