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Playdead concept art for upcoming "game 3"

Playdead’s next game looks eerily gorgeous

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If there’s one thing I love, it’s concept art. One of my favorite coffee table books of all time is Star Wars Art: Ralph McQuarrie. You don’t even have to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate the beauty of each panel. This guy has a talent for conveying space, which, as a byproduct, creates a strange sense of loneliness. That being said, Playdead must’ve taken a page right out of McQuarrie’s book. 

Yes, indeed! The enigmatic Danish studio behind Limbo and Inside recently released another lovely yet unsettling piece of concept art from its latest untitled project. This brings the current amount of released pieces to an uneven seven, with the first unveiled way back in 2017. 

From the dev’s own admission on its job site, the next project is “a third-person science fiction adventure set in a remote corner of the universe”. This sounds on-brand for Playdead’s unique style, seeing as how both Inside and Limbo were definitely not of this world and made me feel unbelievably alone. 

So, what do we know about this mysterious third game? Well, judging from the art, the setting looks to be about as cold and unfeeling as the mood. Our space-suited hero seems to be traversing on an ice planet without another soul in sight, but I don’t trust it. Those merry pranksters at Playdead know we just love surprises. Looking at you, the Huddle

The pictures also give us more clues to hypothesize over. It’s an industrialized planet, filled with elongated pipes that power a series of massive concrete compounds and abandoned machinery. That latter part is the kicker, prompting a series of questions: what was it used for? Why was it abandoned? Who’s gonna clean up this mess? 

Playdead concept art for upcoming "game 3"
Image: Playdead. More pieces of concept art can be seen on Playdead’s X account.

I’ve always liked the idea of massive abandoned machinery though, like Jakub Rozalski’s re-imagining of 1920s Europe. There’s an air of inexplicable mystery combined with a slight sadness, and it’s that space where PlayDead really thrives. 

You remember Limbo, right? That bleak monochrome side-scroller about a boy’s quest to rescue his sister from god-knows-what? I definitely remember the spider. But here’s the thing: there was no subtext. No answers. Like Danish cinema itself, there was something unsettling about the entire affair, but I just couldn’t stop playing. 

Clearly Playdead’s been busy since Inside came out in 2016 building a world that looks to be the most ambitious in their catalogue so far. If “game 3” is anything like Limbo or Inside, I’m anticipating head-scratching puzzles and a massive twist somewhere towards the end.  

But for now, these shots will do. They’re literal eye candy. I mean, they could be in a frame above someone’s couch, or hung in a gallery. Let’s hope we get a trailer soon that will dive a bit deeper into this frozen planet. 

But, if not, you can just stare at this McQuarrie drawing of Hoth and get the same feels. 

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