Art style

Bringing Recompile’s striking art style to life – PlayStation.Blog

Recompile is available August 19 on PlayStation 5! We hope this enhanced next-gen title provides players with a unique experience that we’ve been striving to create for so long. Atmospheric exploration platform meets hacking adventure, Recompile features intense combat, tight 3D platforming, overpowering abilities, hacking mechanics based on environmental logic and a unique stylized visual identity.

In this game, you play as a sentient virus, a program created by the enigmatic Janus as you attempt to escape deletion while infiltrating the sprawling 3D virtual world of the Mainframe. Your final mission is unclear, but you know that you will have to hack, fix and dismantle various systems in order to benefit your creators and maybe even help save humanity.

You’ll learn about the origins of the hypervisor, the AI ​​antagonist determined to stop your progress at every opportunity, and eventually you’ll uncover the true purpose of the mysterious mainframe.

The Mainframe: A futuristic retro virtual world

The Mainframe landscape is completely open and explorable. We designed a small but fully realized environment bursting with character and detail. There are several biomes, each representing a unique function of the computer system you have been tasked with infiltrating. From the heavily armed security fortifications of Tet to the overbearing engineering world of Hex, each location requires different skills and strategies to master.

To create the Mainframe, we combined stylized 3D environment elements with an innovative use of shaders and technical art, giving Recompile a striking artistic style to immerse gamers to a whole new level.

The program

Designing the protagonist of Recompile was one of the many happy accidents that happened during the prototyping phase of the game. Because the character is a computer virus, we wanted something a little different from the traditional hero design. We didn’t have a dedicated character artist at the time either, but one of the core members of the team is a visual effects and animation specialist. Our idea was to make the character entirely made up of animated particles, so we ended up creating a voxel-based particle rendering system, to represent the player being made of code and pure energy. The accompanying videos and gifs went viral on social media, and so the design stuck, and it became an important part of Recompile’s iconic visual style.


One of the most important features of the game, and of which I am personally the most proud, is our custom UI rendering system, built entirely from the ground up. A text-based “ASCII” framework, PhiOS gives us the ability to create retro futuristic 80s style command line terminal interfaces, but with modern design sensibilities. This type of animated “Hollywood” user interface is, in my opinion, a quintessential recompilation.

The journey to recompile

The project now known as Recompile has actually gone through several iterations and prototypes over the years. I always knew I wanted to make a computer-based game, with exploratory and closed platform mechanics, but through experimentation, this basic idea took many forms:

  • Fort Mainframe 2015 Prototype 1 – A turn-based puzzle / strategy game
  • Fort Mainframe 2016 Prototype 2 – A faux-isometric action platformer
  • Fort Mainframe 2017 Prototype 3 – A ‘back to basics’ 3D platformer with rudimentary placeholder cube graphics, designed to inspire future team members to ‘fill in the gaps’

Unit and HDRP

Finally, I want to give a nod to one of the most important game development technologies of the generation, and without it, Recompile absolutely couldn’t exist. Unity has given us great power in the development of this ambitious title, and the recent upgrade of its rendering system in the form of HDRP (High Definition Rendering Pipeline) has been a total lifeline for Phigames, giving us a clear path for exporting to the next powerful- generation consoles such as the PS5.

We hope you are as excited to play the game as we have been. Thanks for joining us on this journey, and good luck with the hack!