04/12/2021

๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“’ The Art of Creaks | Book | Review ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ“’ @Amanita_Design #IndieGames #IndieGame #GameDev

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Purchase Link - https://merch.amanita-design.net/products/the-art-of-creaks

Creaks is a game that is very much adored by its fanbase for the care and craft that was clearly put into it, resulting in a title whereby the visuals and music are just as important as the fundamental gameplay.


It therefore makes sense - following the ‘making of’ documentary focusing on the music of Creaks (https://youtu.be/67S-rAyku3U) - that a book dedicated to the art is released. As was made clear in my review of Creaks a few months ago - https://www.gamesfreezer.co.uk/2021/06/creaks-review-xbox-series-x-910.html – it is a game that really made an impact on me and I often find myself discussing it or listening to the soundtrack, and now – I can get lost again in those wonderfully detailed visuals thanks to The Art of Creaks.

With art and text provided by Radim Jurda and Jan Chlup – very much the creative minds behind Creaks – the book, whilst naturally focussing on the birth, evolution and final presentation of the artwork, really has a surprisingly rich impact in the accompanying small paragraphs of text.


As the game is still so fresh in my mind, I thoroughly enjoyed learning the - often quite different - origins of a lot of the things I’d seen in the game such as characters, locations and even how the mechanics of basic gameplay were adapted due to limitations (much to the games’ ultimate strength).


The book doesn’t feel flabby in terms of being self-congratulatory (which, quite frankly it more than deserves to be!), there’s a proudness for the final product and intuition and focus that can only come from such a dedicated small team.


The fact that Amanita Design has released a documentary on the music, an accompanying double vinyl soundtrack (https://merch.amanita-design.net/products/creaks-soundtrack-2lp-by-hidden-orchestra – genuinely one of the best albums I own and a celebration of creativity in its own right) and now this art book, shows the belief and reverence that they hold for the game, and in my mind, rightfully so.

Glossy and over 170 pages in length, the book takes the reader through preliminary development sketches and ideas through to early/alternate versions of characters and locations. The sections on locations I found especially rewarding as it gives great background on the choices and styles used in each section of the game, working through them as the player does, sequentially.


It’s this kind of approach that makes one want to play the game through again to appreciate those smaller moments that may have been missed the first time around, and I found that it made the world seem so much more cohesive in my mind. 


That said, as much as I loved reading about the locations, the pages discussing and illustrating the various characters in the game was also a treat. Each denizen of this rickety underground world is revisited in lush detail, including chronological sketches from inception to their final forms and accompanying paragraphs giving insight as to their creation.

Following this, the book turns to one of my favourite parts of Creaks, the framed art and interactive oil paintings that act as mini-games. Each one gets a roomy, double-page spread and – as is the setup throughout the book – a paragraph of text discussing the inspirations, decisions and more behind each piece.


The latter section of the book from page 116 onwards deals with the actual game design, animation and a huge gallery of images that didn’t fit anywhere else in the book – alongside tales from the development.


This is a really beautiful part of the book that takes us right behind the scenes to dark, smudged versions of frames; strange, unused characters; possible title screens and even a double-page spread of the various different fonts tried out for the title. This and an image that shows an artist’s hand mid-creation are some of my favourite moments in the book, showing the depth of thought and detail that went into every frame.


Eight years in the making, Creaks is a game that will stand the tests of time and this book is the perfect way to celebrate it further. Full of information covering all aspects of design, The Art of Creaks isn’t just a coffee-table book with some pretty pictures in, it is an invaluable text accompaniment to a game that shines in every aspect.


I also recommend putting the soundtrack on as you read through, as I have whilst typing this.

Right, I’m off to see what’s behind the small door I just found in the basement...

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