Posted by on 21 febrero, 2017

Nostalgia and Retro Aesthetic, the case of Dissident: Survival Runner

In the mobile game market, full of mainstream titles with a ‘replicant’ look, where it’s so hard to differentiate one from the other, occasionally products with unique features appear. For the most part, these games stick with a modus operandi that hybridizes well-known formulas in order to offer a product with distinguished features. This could be the case of Dissident: Survival Runner. Its nostalgic and retro aesthetic transports us, almost immediately, to a not-so-distant past, where the first highly popular game consoles, like PlayStation, showed off vast universes with plastic and visual diversity, where adventure and difficulty came to be the new engines of seduction.

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft (Core Design, 1998).

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft (Core Design, 1998).

Perhaps the most important influence for Dissident, from an iconographic point of view, may be the first Tomb Raider games. Despite their limited technical resources, and the scarce number of polygons necessary for character and level modelling, the act of building complex worlds full of ludic experiences wasn’t affected…, considering the technology available back then. This has been the first of the big challenges of the company —Agaporni Games— that has brought the game to life: recall, using a retro aesthetic and the gameplay itself, the feelings of yore, this time in mobile format.

The great variety of universes, with a variable use of the color, provides to the player an appreciable heterogeneity in relation to other games within the same genre, the runner. In this sense, the developing team has considered a formal concomitance with the casual discourse of a specific and widely accepted genre nowadays. Its frenzy, based almost always on the player’s ability to dodge and jump at the right time, it’s now offered with an increase in the difficulty thanks to the implementation of another well-known but often forgotten game mechanic among runners: shooting. The implementation of this mechanic simultaneously provides new possibilities of interaction with the environment. Camera rotation, the aim sight, or the use of an epic kind of music that’s connected to specific moments may be the most remarkable ones.

Dissident: Survival Runner: nostalgia y estética retro.

Dissident: Survival Runner: nostalgia and retro aesthetic.

Although the main visual influences have been correctly pointed out in this post by artist Talía Ramírez, I’d like to stress the idea of a visual corpus that goes into detail about technologic and natural elements as an inevitable springboard to dystopia. On this occasion, its essential structure is composed of well-contrasted climatologies and creatures that are both real and imaginary. These, acting like leading complements, turn out to be novel for the genre.

Finally, it’d be convenient to underline the attention to the main menu complements and the navigation through different 3D spaces as a kind of ‘rooms’. Doubtlessly, a work that could meet the demands of those who need these extra details in their mobile games. Fine tunes that are strengthened by a subtle comical tone that appears spontaneously during the gameplay. In short, an action-packed video game intended to those who feel nostalgic about the times when a little bit of extra effort used to be rewarded.

Professor of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Seville.

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