The gorgeous debut trailer for "No Man's Sky" isn't so much a u-turn from the developer of "Joe Danger," but more of a barrel roll.
Its distinct aesthetic accompanies a grand ambition, to create a universe's worth of explorable, procedurally generated planets.
And that look comes from science fiction literature, not movies or other games, and in particular from cover artists' imaginative creations.
"Sci-fi, for me, is the books that I grew up with," explained Sean Murray, head of indie studio Hello Games. "Aasimov, Clarke and Heinlen and people like that."
"When I close my eyes and picture it, I think of the covers, I think of Chris Foss and Moebius."
"I picture that desolate landscape, that crashed spaceship, and that planet just hanging on the horizon."
So for Sean and the four-person team working on "No Man's Sky" and its grand expanse, this isn't your typical gaming scenario -- no space marines, post-apocalypse or dystopian future, he says -- this is a game of discovery and the great unknown, of roving planets underwater, on the surface, and away into space.
Appearing on the Spike TV VGX show, December 7, Murray spoke of standing on a planet, seeing a mountain three miles away, and setting off to explore it. A description evocative of "Skyrim," but that's not all.
"If you see that planet on the horizon, which you see in the trailer, that's a real place: you can see features on it, and you can get in your ship and go there."
"It's even more than that. If it's night-time, or you're in space and you see all the stars, those are real stars, those are suns, and they have planets around them and you can go and visit them."
"I said it was a game about exploration but it's not just wandering about passively, ambiently -- These are planets that have an ecology, they have an ecosystem, and you're not necessarily at the top of that chain."