You may have noticed that biopunk horror game Scorn has a disturbingly familiar art style. As it turns out, the game takes inspiration from artists whose influences have spread throughout all forms of media. But while their style may be familiar, their names and many works may not be. So, who created the art style that Scorn is based on? And how does the game draw inspiration from its sources?
What is Scorn Based On?
Scorn is a biopunk first-person shooter inspired by the works of H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński. The “biopunk” concept is closely related to their biomechanical and surrealistic artwork, both of which are widely recognized when it comes to the genre. Biopunk itself is a subgenre of science fiction and cyberpunk, one that focuses more on the consequences of biotechnology rather than the immediate benefits.
The overall aesthetic is meant to be disturbing. So, indeed, are the works of fiction inspired by it. And that’s true for Scorn as well. According to Ljubomir Peklar, CEO and creative director at Ebb Software, the grisly nature of it all is core to the experience. Speaking in an interview with Brian Crecente, Peklar said “Overcoming discomfort is an innate motivational factor that Scorn injects into its players.”
Who Is H. R. Giger?
If you don’t know who H. R. Giger was, you certainly know of his work. H. R. Giger was the Swiss artist who gave us the original Alien design, along with its sinister environments. He has worked with many artists from the film and video game industries, and any fans of his work can visit his museum in Switzerland where his work is on display. His unique style has been seen on various album covers to the point where anyone can tell who’s behind it. He passed away on May 12, 2014, after succumbing to wounds from a fall.
Who Is Zdzisław Beksiński?
Zdzisław Beksiński was a Polish artist who specialized in dark surrealism. He’s well-known in his country for establishing a few transitional phases in his art. From fantastic realistic paintings and ominous sculptures to computer-generated artwork, he tipped his toes in any way he could. Unfortunately, he was murdered on February 21, 2005 by the son of his caretaker. There is also a museum for Zdzisław Beksiński where his work can be seen.
The Inspiration Behind Scorn
With all of this in mind, it’s clear to see where H. R. Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński come into the picture. Both artists exhibit eerie, grim, and sometimes disturbing imagery that conveys an intense emotion of unease. Twisted mechanics are infused with human bodies; industrial settings deteriorate any sense of hope. Biomechanical creatures exist, and they’re scarier than we can imagine.
Strange fiends lurk among the shadows; cyborgs with metal components shuffling underneath layers of flesh and blood. The atmosphere is dark and nightmarish: A grisly interconnection of man and machine; humanity perverted by technology, and of the desolate world such a vulgar union might produce. It instills a sense of omnipresent dread, and that’s exactly what Scorn is aiming for.
Once you realize the sources, it’s easy to spot direct influences from both Giger and Beksiński. Scorn‘s development centers around the concept of biopunk in a dystopian setting, which is derived directly — specifically — from the artists’ work. The aesthetic informed not only the visuals, but also the gameplay and everything beyond.
Simply put, Scorn is unsettling. It’s meant to be; that’s the point. Biomechanical contraptions, deformed enemies, and the frightening darkness that we must face alone are all part of the package. The developers took their inspirations literally, and created the most true-to-form biopunk game we’ve seen yet.
C. Anthony Rivera is a freelance writer from Chicago, IL. He graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Writing and has been published on several gaming websites with reviews, news articles, and guides. He is currently working on a novel.