has some pretty sophisticated design references for a puzzle game. The M.C. Escher-esque video game, created by Chicago-based artist William Chyr, contains nods to the work of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and contemporary Japanese designer Tadao Ando, and unbuilt designs from icons like Louis Kahn.
Previewed at this year’s Kill Screen Festival, Manifold Garden almost inspired Chyr to go to architecture school, according to Curbed, although eventually he settled on using the design manual Wayfinding and Signing Guidelines for Airport Terminals and Landside as the education he needed in creating a game based on moving through a series of rooms.
A Modernist pattern here or a famous facade there can make for fun Easter eggs, but studying the works of master architects also helped Chyr figure out how to design spaces that are unusual and fun to move through. "I’m adding detail not just for the sake of complexity, but because if you just have boxes everything is monotonous," Chyr explained to Curbed. "Some players have a hard time. They say, 'Is this the same space as I was in before?' Because they all look the same."
In the game, the rooms have windows and stairs and wall textures that make each structure feel dynamic and like you’re exploring, rather than just hopping through boring room after boring room. The small details like Wright-inspired patterns on the windows aren’t central to enjoying the game, but they’re a bonus for architecture nerds.
"You can play through the game without paying attention to them, but I want it so if you notice it speaks to all these themes," he said.
Chyr has been working on the game for more than three years, taking inspiration as he goes from works like Wright’s Robie House in Chicago, or Andao’s Row House. Make sure to start studying up on your 20th-century architects before it comes out for PlayStation 4 in 2017.
All images courtesy William Chyr