Uncovering the Stunning Art Direction of No Rest for the Wicked – IGN First

Upon its unveiling at The Game Awards last year, No Rest for the Wicked captured attention with its unique artistic style. It stood out as the most eye-catching trailer of the event, reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons illustrations in motion. The beautiful artistry clearly revealed the handiwork of Moon Studios.

Gennadiy Korol, Moon Studios co-founder and technology director, describes this aesthetic as intrinsic to their identity. He explains, “This is almost like our DNA. That’s the trademark of Moon; we aim for a timeless visual appeal, resembling animated paintings.”

While this artistic signature was evident in Moon’s previous Ori games, No Rest for the Wicked elevates it to a new realm. Transitioning to 3D, the game abandons the illustrated style of Ori for a painted reality look. Drawing comparisons to projects like Netflix’s Arcane and Spider-Verse films, Moon Studios seeks to create a visually captivating experience that stands the test of time.

Achieving timeless art design means diverging from industry norms. Merely pursuing higher visual fidelity is insufficient. Thomas Mahler, Moon’s co-founder and creative director for No Rest for the Wicked, emphasizes the importance of art direction and style above technical advancements like ray tracing and polygons.

Mahler argues against following current trends, like physical-based rendering, as it results in a homogenized look across games. He stresses the longevity of unique artistry compared to technical feats that can quickly become outdated.

Emphasizing emotional connection over technical prowess, Korol states, “Physics doesn’t matter, it’s what people feel when they play that matters.” By prioritizing players’ experiences, Moon Studios aims to create an engaging visual world that transcends mere technical achievements.

While Moon honed their painted art style in the Ori series, adapting it to a 3D environment for No Rest for the Wicked presented fresh challenges. Korol reflects, “The major hurdle was finding a 3D-compatible style that grants us artistic control to create a painted aesthetic, distinct from conventional 3D visuals.”

Establishing a core set of rules for this distinctive art direction ensures that No Rest for the Wicked maintains a striking visual identity. But beyond mere aesthetics, Moon places equal emphasis on compelling character and world designs, steering clear of typical fantasy tropes to craft a unique and immersive setting.

Mahler explains, “We draw inspiration from historical sources like armor designs of centuries past, infusing them with our own creative twists. This approach results in visuals like the surreal golden armor seen in the trailer, with enigmatic headpieces and an eerie lack of eyes.”

“A key aspect of world building is to envision a realm that is both novel and engaging,” adds Korol. “It’s about exploring uncharted territories and stimulating creativity to craft something truly unique.”

Artistic value lies in the emotions evoked by play rather than technical fidelity.

Moon Studio’s meticulous attention to detail, reminiscent of classic paintings, ensures that every frame of No Rest for the Wicked is rich with intricate elements and embellishments.

Korol states, “Despite moving away from photorealism, we emphasize intricate detail. Through nuanced reflections and material interactions, we aim to create an immersive experience.”

This dedication to detail, carried over from the Ori games, fuels Moon’s confidence in the lasting appeal of No Rest for the Wicked. “Just as Ori has aged well over nearly a decade, we anticipate similar longevity for our latest project,” says Korol.

Reflecting on the industry’s trajectory, Mahler points to games like Zelda: Wind Waker, praising the enduring appeal of its cel-shaded graphics after two decades. He expresses hope for a diverse landscape in gaming, preserving a space for uniquely styled experiences amidst advancing technology.

In the competitive realm of game development, Moon Studios maintains its commitment to innovative artistry. Looking ahead, the anticipation grows for the release of No Rest for the Wicked on March 1 and the subsequent early access launch later this year.

IGN’s UK News and Features Editor, Matt Purslow, contributed to this article.

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