I just wanted to get a quick thought of the way, perhaps sow the seeds of a more in-depth look for any of you that might ask for more. Being a filmmaker at heart, seeing games’ graphical fidelity being upgraded from generation to generation is meticulous and lately hearkens back to film theory. Sometimes I’m surprised at how a game changes up the formula.
Going into The Touryst, I didn’t expect much graphically–I knew it was “Minecraft-y” or had a Lego style, whichever you prefer. However, it uses DOF (depth of field) to great extent, and shows a surprising attention to detail in a title I didn’t expect. This is not a game that I would’ve said is cinematic if I had never played it, but boy is it ever.
It’s how you set the level of intimacy in a story or how you direct where the audience should be putting their focus in the frame. It’s the emotion, the punctuation, and the eyes of the story in filmmaking.Shane Hurlbut
The quote above is one of my favorite definitions of DOF–you can read the rest of his outstanding post on the subject here.
The developers knew the restraints they were putting on the title with the art style, but also knew how to punch up the bricks to make this seemingly childish game visually enthralling. That said, the engine used here also has intense lighting and shadow effects, but that’s another conversation.
Instead of being simply “draw distance” the depth of field in The Touryst shows off quirky, tiny versions of islands we might really want to go to. It also allows us to see where our little hero detective fits into this world for scale and for character, since we aren’t getting lines of dialogue from him to see who he truly is.
To wrap this up, The Touryst is surely not the first game to use DOF, but it is a surprising addition to a large list of games this generation that are stepping up visuals in cinematic ways not quite exhausted yet by this industry. For other great examples, check out mostly Triple-A titles like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.