Just imagine it: Pokémon, but with the visual style of Octopath Traveler or Triangle Strategy. You know, that joyful fusion of pixel art with modern 3D rendering that creates a delicate, dreamy atmosphere you can just get lost in for days? Thankfully, we don’t need to leave such a concept solely to fantasy, as 3D pixel artist Dott has created some wonderful digital dioramas as a tribute to the legendary monster catching series and god damn do I wish the real games looked like this.
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Square Enix’s so-called “HD-2D” graphics style first showed up in 2018’s retro-inspired Switch JRPG Octopath Traveler. For many, the look immediately sparks the nostalgia of, usually, classic console RPGs, with a modern twist that doesn’t feel too out of left field, yet doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s full of flashy, unnecessary cutting-edge next-gen graphical effects. As a result, whether you’re playing on the Nintendo Switch or a PC with a huge GPU, the experience is an impressive and delightful treat. Since Octopath, Square Enix has used this aesthetic in three more games, the most recent being its remake of 1994’s choose-your-adventure RPG Live A Live, which is landing on PS4. PS5, and PC on April 27. That’ll surely be a fun time, but man, seeing this style in action in the Pokémon universe, and specifically the classic Red and Blue games, is just awesome. Check it out:
I mean, I’d never leave the house if I could play this (yeah, I know that’s kind of already the case, but still). According to Dott’s YouTube channel, it’s all running in Unreal Engine 5.
There’s a surreality that’s just inescapable here. It both looks familiar and new at the same time, almost life-like, as if these were a bunch of figures or an audacious Pathfinder miniatures set, featuring elegant lighting and bokeh effects. The only complaint I have is that Dott’s videos are too short! I need more of this. Right now.
There are currently only a precious four “HD-2D”-style Pokémon videos on Dott’s YouTube channel, but they also made some Chrono Trigger scenes done up in the same style if that’s of any interest to you.