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30 October, 2014

The Pursuit of Photorealistic Graphics Is 'Stagnant and Non-expressive' According to Indie Dev Cardboard Keep

At any one time there are so many fantastic indie titles bubbling away in development that it can be difficult to keep up. But one indie title that’s recently popped up on my radar is from a little known studio called Cardboard Keep. Its first major project is the intriguing third-person action-adventure title Warden: Melody Of The Undergrowth.

With clear nods to games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Banjo-Kazooie, Shadow of the Colossus and Dark Souls, well, you get the gist of why I’m pretty excited. And although Cardboard Keep are keeping much of the story veiled in mystery, a few delicious insights have emerged. What we do know is that the world has been thrown into chaos, with the once harmonious relationship between nature and mankind overturned. Our adventure revolves around controlling a Warden Spirit, a being that is able to shapeshift into Wardens. These Wardens are children called upon by the forest, each of whom has unique and special powers.

An early build of the game will be available for some hands on time at the upcoming PAX AUS in Melbourne, Australia and will be available on PC, Mac, Linux and consoles in 2015. In the Grab It PAX AUS Indie Game Guide, we have a bunch of awesome insights into the game, screenshots and an exclusive in-depth interview with Calum Spring, founder of Cardboard Keep.

While there is much to be excited about, one of the things that really stood out to me was Warden’s stunning Wind Waker-like visuals. Like a wonderful piece of art, the hand-painted scenes are incredibly expressive, coming alive with both colour and character. That’s no accident either, with Cardboard Keep being very deliberate in what it wants to say through Warden’s artistic style. Here’s a snippet from our interview with Spring:

"Clarity and readability are central to our art style, and colour and vibrancy are great for expressing the dangerous and beneficial elements of the world. Plus we don’t want players missing elements that we’ve poured so much effort into! We also wanted to contrast the art style with the more challenging and mature combat, and narrative components of the game. So while Warden is quite upfront in its thematic discussion, it’s not all dark and bleak.

At the same time, this style of art is faster for a small studio like us to iterate upon and generate a larger world out of. We find the pursuit of photorealistic graphics shown by larger studios to be stagnant and non-expressive. You can say alot more with colour."

To read our full exclusive interview with Cardboard Keep and to learn more about Warden, be sure to pick our our PAX AUS Indie Game Guide (which is currently free for a limited time.)

Stephen Mitchell

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