Art of Anthem Review: Inside the Killer Franchise

Every few years the gaming industry is gifted with a new franchise that expands the imagination of gamers to another level. A game which further explores the virtual world by diving deeper into the aspect of merging fantasy with reality. Creating memories of intense battle scenes of slaying demons and heart racing gunfights with hoards of monsters. All of this while capturing human emotions with stories of betrayal, heartbreak, and death. Games the likes of “God of War,” “Destiny,” “Assassin’s Creed,” and “Halo” have been the games to do this. Much like these games, BioWare’s “Anthem” is built to be that next franchise.

  BioWare, the company responsible for the “Mass Effect” trilogy, has paired with Dark Horse Comics to produce the massive 200-page graphic art book, which is a retrospective view about their latest creation “Anthem.” Even though the “Art of Anthem” doesn’t give out the actual game story, it is an in-depth book about the creative direction of characters, monsters, landscape, weaponry, and in-game folklore. This will give gamers a thorough look at what the original visual idea was for each aspect of the game as well as a history lesson perse. Landscape:  According to the book, the developers wanted to create a world that wasn’t just visually appealing, but native to the gamers eye. Though it is supposed to be a planet in a galaxy far far away, they wanted to showcase many of Earth’s natural landscape such as mountain ranges, grass fields, lakes, and rough desert terrains. To do so, Bioware took inspirations from the untapped Scottish Highlands in the United Kingdom. Landscapes which have not been industrialized by modern society and still look similar to how they did hundreds of years ago. By giving the planet an Earth look, it is a branch to build emotional attachment from and create that fantasy meets reality element. It’s like if you were to imagine your own neighborhood in a pure state no traffic, no pollution, and just fresh air. Imagine the bright green grass and natural sounds of natural weather elements such as high winds blowing through trees and raindrops splashing onto roofs. Sounds peaceful, sounds tranquil, but how about in the depth of your natural stated neighborhood slumbers a 20-foot grey scale beast with razor sharp teeth and talons ready to pounce as you step foot in its territory. 

The People:

The “Anthem” background is about a community of space explorers who crash land on a foreign planet. The displaced cast of characters stranded far from home had to make do with what they landed with. Eventually, over time they create a society with everyone who landed on that strange planet with them. The book breaks down the ideas behind the characters, their gear and how they came together with it all.  Composing an idea of what space travelers or astronauts would keep on their ships such as sportswear like compression shirts, compression tights, tank tops, shorts and sweat pants for casual wear. All while still equipped with the essentials, space jumpsuits, boots, tools, guns, and helmets. Due to the environment on the planet, this would ultimately guide the characters to how they dress. The variations of how each character looked from the beginning stages to the final product are on display in the artwork.


Suits and guns included, “Anthem” is filled with a solid rotation of weaponry. The Javelin suits are the major focus of the game since they are the battle suits used by the characters. The Javelins have a variety of looks all with a specific purpose. They range in size comparable to the original sleek and slender Iron-man Mark III suit to the massive tank-like Hulk-Buster(Mark XLIV) suit. The bigger suits such as the Colossal Javelin can take and inflict more damage. It is a heavy gun wielding chunky plated tan armored machine. The sketch work shows it is a monster of a suit, the big rounded out arms and legs of the suit show that it is capable of handling a whale-sized beast.  The smaller Javelins are more fitting to the body, meaning they are faster and maneuver better.

Enemies Being that this is a planet full of life with an environment full of swamps, waterfalls, and caves, there is an ample need for some intricate monsters for each location. A mixed mash-up of species to form creatures to make the game unique in its library. Example of this is a massive Jaguar and insect merged creation which roams the tall grass of the open lands, while pale grey bat-like behemoths dwell in the caves. The schematics of the creature Locations and designs plus armies of alien militia mentioned can evoke the excitement to crack open the game. The anticipation of what beast or what task force in what area is up next, will make the gamer look forward to an intense heart-pounding adventure.

Bioware and Dark Horse’s “Art of Anthem” is like an X-ray of the game’s skeleton in full detail. Being able to get an inside look at the visual development of the characters, monsters, weapons and the planet itself gives a better understanding of the depth of “Anthem.” The sketch to color concepts of each aspect of the game allows the reader to see the game for what it truly is. An intensely detailed in-game story arc accompanied by a book full of backstory completes the beginning foundation for a franchise. What happens next is all dependant on how innovative and creative the Bioware’s team continues to be.

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