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Machinarium developer’s next game will be built with stunning 3D dioramas

Stand up against a tyrannical government in Phonopolis

a little character wearing a yellow jacket walks along a rope. the rope hangs across a town street with letters that say TONE, and another rope’s letters say ABSOLUTE, while a parade marches on the street below. the game, Phonopolis, is stylized so it looks like colored cardboard Image: Amanita Design
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Amanita Design, the Czech indie collective known for creating beautiful and whimsical games like Machinarium and the Samorost series, announced its next project on Wednesday. The new game is called Phonopolis, and it will follow a man named Felix in his journey to rise up against an authoritarian government. It will also be Amanita Design’s first 3D game.

Like 2020’s Creaks, Phonopolis will integrate both puzzle and exploration elements. You’ll play as Felix, a “thoughtful young man” who accidentally becomes aware of the ways in which he and his fellow countrymen are being manipulated by an authoritarian ruler via a system of loudspeakers. After becoming conscious of the threat, he sets off to stop the all-powerful leader from taking control of everyone in the city, once and for all.

The team behind the game, led by Petr Filipovič, Eva Marková, and Oto Dostál, said in a news release that Phonopolis, both “ideologically and visually,” is “strongly influenced by avant-garde artistic trends of the interwar period such as constructivism, futurism, or suprematism.” Rejecting tradition and celebrating new revolutionary ways characterized the artistic movements of that period, according to Marková.

“We are attempting to utilize avant-garde art in some more playful, enjoyable ways, not unlike children’s toys and paper models. One of our goals is to cheer the player with a bit of honest childlike joy,” Marková said.

Amanita also released some concept art from Phonopolis. It’s absolutely stunning, and you can view the full gallery below.

Amanita Design was founded in 2003 and is known for creating visually captivating point-and-click games such as the Samorost series, Machinarium, and Botanicula. In 2020, the collective released the delightful puzzle game, Creaks. All of Amanita Design’s past games were 2D games. This time around, the developers of Phonopolis are using handcrafted 3D dioramas to build its world.

“Even though the game is being developed within a 3D engine, we’re still hand-crafting as many assets as we can. All textures are painted on cardboard, cut-out, digitized and placed on its respective 3D model,” said Oto Dostál, technical artist on Phonopolis. “We would love for our game to feel less like a piece of software and more like a hand-crafted little universe that hopefully retains some of the warmth of human touch.”

Along with the concept art, Amanita released some photographs from the diorama process, which you can view below. Phonopolis is currently in development for multiple platforms, including Mac and Windows PC; interested parties can wishlist the game on Steam. Amanita did not give a planned release window, but don’t expect to play Phonopolis for at least a year from now — asked for clarification, a studio spokesperson told Polygon that the game “won’t be ready within (at least) the next 12 months.”