Video Games on Canvas – ICO

The nostalgia of Infinity
When Ueda conceived the ICO concept in 1997, his intent was to create a videogame that diversified from the mass of action games of the time, whose search for the latest technology seemed to be the only relevant piece of information.
So he decided to tell his story in a very special way, focusing on the empathic relationship between the two protagonists Ico and Yorda, a baby with horns and a mysterious girl, graphic narrative and atmospheres. Ueda’s primary goal was to rea
ch a new level of realism, not photographic but solid and emotional, which could stimulate the player to believe in his world based on the r
eality of the dream, not the physical world. The creation of a coherent imaginary reality and essential features was the cornerstone of the w
hole project: it had to start from a simple idea and eliminate all that could be accessory for the purposes of the story
and the gaming experience. In essence it was merely to tell the story of a child and a girl higher than him, escaping from a labyrinthine and immense castle. Nothing more.
“There is a level of realism that you can achieve only through imagination”
Smoking Ueda
And that’s how the gaming interface, the invasive soundtrack, and the excess dialogues disappeared. Even the settings were only sketched to allow the player to focus exclusively on interaction and relationship between the two players and to give the d
esign a sense of essentiality, elegance and evocative power.
The environment had to be the fulcrum of the whole narrative and assume the form of true language. The fortress had to be the cause of the e
ntire suffering of the protagonists, but also to be a twisted, claustrophobic and confused place for those who were called to guide them to escape. It was a tomb for Ico and an invaluable prison for Yorda, a place dominated by
a complete sense of age and loneliness.
On more than one occasion, Ueda stated that there were many sources of inspiration for the conception of the mystical and allegorical
universe of ICO , Eric Chahi’s Another World , for its screen-free gameplay and strong emotional connection between the two protagonists, to the figurative models of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical painting.
The contact with the figurative composure and the strange representation of the paintings of the latter was undoubtedly an important parenthesis for the genesis of the project. Applied to art, metaphysics indicates the will to go beyond the world
of nature to draw to another, superior and transcendent dimension, only reachable through the “eyes of the mind”. The dechirichian paintings depict recognizable objects, large desert squares, immense monuments, fragments
of views and the various elements that make up them are placed among themselves in surprising relationships. In the eyes of Ueda, the arcane strangeness of those works could perfectly visualize and allegorize the sense of solitude, emptiness and imprisonment pervading the entire journey.
Video Games on Canvas - ICO
In The Infinity’s nostalgia (1914), a work featured by the same director in the European and Japanese cover of the title in question, is depicted as a dreamlike scenario. The yellow-colored soil has an accentuated convexity that seems to push all the ce
ntral tower into the sky, already in its own slender. The two characters who seem to converse, immobile in the large empty space, project long shadows on the ground, expanding the infinite spatial feeling suggested by the ti
tle to a superhuman dimension that includes time and spending. You feel a sense of melancholy immobility, the vibration of silence, the spread of heat. In the immensity of a boundless environment, the two protagonists, just like Ico and Yorda, seem to almost di
sappear and contemplate the serenity of a suspended moment. Impressive architecture, dry environment, nostalgic loneliness, crude shadows amplify the sense of oppression, resulting from being surrounded by immense structures, with the perpetual feeling of being trapped.
Between the walls of the dream
“De Chirico’s surrealism suggests the allegory of ICO”
Smoking Ueda
The theoretical justification of metaphysical and surrealism was drawn from Schopenhauer’s theory of apparitions, according to which the image of the dream would arouse desire and surprise, offering one side to the dormant with its reality, on the other beyond the human possibility of action in him latent. The dream crosses the func- tional functions of space, casualty
, time, and succeeds in seizing a new form of reality, a reality that is more real. The dreamlike dimension, the visionary force of images and atmospheres, the temporal suspension are part of the indispensable elements that define the digital dream
created by Fumito Ueda, the only manifestations that allow the player to go beyond what he sees to find its appearance and a Deeper meaning through imagination.
The theme of the dream is resume
d narratively over the course of the adventure and is represented through the faint sounds of nature and the strong contrasts of light and color. The graphic impact with unreal atmospheres is favored by the use of a chromatic palette that prefers the unnatural approach of g
reen and brown tones. In the mystery and melancholy of a road there is clearly this type of coloring and color desaturation. In light and colors, we notice unrealistic elements, with contrasts not always motivated, between clear, clear and clean areas, and other obscure and veiled ones that make even more enigmatic the absence of human presence.