50 Grey Shades of Game, Obsidian and Double Helix’s Upcoming Titles.

Can someone turn the saturation slider up on these games a bit please?

Can someone turn the saturation slider up on these games a bit please?

Remember how a lot of games looked around the time of Gears of War and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare? Just like how Pablo Picasso went through a blue period from 1901 to 1904, video games were going through a grey/brown period.

Thankfully this was only a phase the industry was going through and it eventually turned off that Bauhaus album and came out of its bedroom. Not every future has to be post apocalyptic, and who is to say nuclear fallout wouldn’t result in multiple rainbows across the sky and neon green clouds.  


That is what I thought at least, until new images started to pop up of what Obsidian and Double Helix have been working on. Double Helix is no stranger to grey/brown games, having developed Silent Hill: Homecoming… but in recent years with Killer Instinct and a bevy of bright particle effects, and the upcoming Strider reboot with a flowy neon ninja scarf; it comes as a bit of a surprise that concept art from their next game is so incredibly drab. 

I suppose it is a little unfair for me to pass judgement so quickly, after all this is just concept art from an unannounced new IP. Still, when I first saw these images I swear I was looking at Killzone: Shadow Fall. 

Even Bungie’s Destiny seems to have a much more muted color palette compared to their previous Halo games.

Dark and drab works when that is the overall tone of a game like the upcoming Thief reboot from Eidos or the supernatural London (an already foggy environment) of The Order 1886. Being in shadow is actually a gameplay element to Thief so the colors make total sense. 

I was surprised from Obsidian as well… again Fallout: New Vegas was a very grey/brown game, while Southpark: Stick of Truth looks like you could be watching an episode of the show. After setting a Kickstarter record of close to 4 million dollars for the now renamed Pillars of Eternity, expectations for the game are high in every department. I think using the classic RPG isometric view was a wonderful choice for the game, but these screenshots just feel so lifeless.

My worries about Pillars of Eternity at least seem to be for nothing. Once you watch the embedded trailer at the bottom of this article; you will see this game does have some beautiful and colorful environments. I don’t doubt Double Helix’s game will have more colorful portions as well.

 Are hardcore gamers so adverse to sunlight that even a visual representation of it makes them hiss like a vampire? 

I still find myself left with the question on why so many games are at least represented to us with screenshots like these. Is a game more realistic or gritty when there’s no color? Are hardcore gamers so adverse to sunlight that even a visual representation of it makes them hiss like a vampire? 

In a new generation of games where the graphical limitations are lower than ever, I would just hate to see that all go to waste under a layer of fog and depressing color schemes. 

On the other hand… I might just be totally full of shit. Double Fine’s upcoming Broken Age and just announced Zelda inspired Hack ‘n’ Slash ditch 3D graphics altogether and look like beautiful illustrations in motion. Arc System Works are rebooting Guilty Gear with Guilty Gear Xrd, a fighting game running in 3D on the Unreal Engine, but with cel shading so convincing it could be easily mistaken for a 2D anime.

We live in a wonderful era of gaming where you the gamer have many choices. Do you want to play a desaturated futuristic cyberpunk game? Go right ahead. Do you want to play a colorful Japanese fighting game with a narcoleptic character nailed to a bed named Bed Man? That is covered as well (pictured). 

You definitely have the choice to play Pillars of Eternity next year, as it is shaping up to be quite an awesome looking game:

About the author

Ryan Kerns

Lifelong gamer, artist, writer, lurker, occasional troll, and 1994 Blockbuster Game Tournament Store Champion.