Welcome to Art Examination! A video series that explores video games as an art form with MissBiankadonk, professional gameplay animator and part-time streamer.
In this installment she will be looking at Polytron’s FEZ, and its successful return to pixel art roots.
The visual form of video games has come a long way since the days of 8-bit colour. Technology and tools developed at quite a pace and soon video games were no longer just two dimensional. The medium and polygon counts exploded, the fundamental building blocks of graphical fidelity went from double digits into the millions. But, in an effort to rediscover the charm and humble beginnings of the video games of yesteryear, developers sometimes return to pixel art. Recently this sub genre has been elevated into new and interesting territory.
Fez is a great example of modern day pixel art that exists within a three dimensional space. Pixel art is not as simple as it looks. It is a skill that could sometimes take years to master. Often characterized by its minimalist pallet, pixel art usually excels due to it’s simple and straightforward look. There are many examples in Fez that expertly showcase that effect.
The game also does an excellent job of maintaining harmony between its varied worlds. While some elements are used throughout the whole game, they vary based on color and depth to fit the world. The result is a game in which the player never once feels that the world they just discovered isn’t a part of the whole.
A video game like Fez could be seen as a time capsule; a love letter to a bygone era existing within the modern. Polytron proves here that sometimes it is okay to scale things down to a minimalist style, in this case via pixel art, in order to achieve a greater outcome and effect to the game’s visuals.