Hand-drawn adventure game comes to Steam after being dropped from Apple Arcade, creator laments the way games 'can just vanish' today

Image for Hand-drawn adventure game comes to Steam after being dropped from Apple Arcade, creator laments the way games 'can just vanish' today
(Image credit: John William Evelyn)

Inkblot Obra-Dinn-like adventure game The Collage Atlas originally released as an iOS exclusive in 2020, but when its Apple Arcade contract expired last year, the striking pen and ink game became unplayable. To keep it alive, its creator released a Steam version last month.

The architect of this post-modern duotone walking simulator, John Evelyn, began by creating renders of each game world object in Unity and then painstakingly drawing out each texture by hand. 

In an interview with The Verge, Evelyn discussed how he fell in love with pen and ink art: "I liked all the incidental details and the accidents that come out along the way," he said, even though "sometimes it goes horribly wrong!" The inkblot visuals impart a rich depth of texture, something tactile and personal. Evelyn's brutally honest approach to artwork, which embraces the permanence of ink and all the mistakes that come with it, gives it an incredibly unique look.

That approach to permanence hasn't carried over to the world of games publishing, however. The Collage Atlas began as an iOS exclusive before the end of its run on Apple Arcade—a subscription-based game library—saw it become unavailable to play, even for those who previously could. 

It would have been another casualty in the gaming industry's ongoing siege on art itself, but while Evelyn was prepared to wash his hands of the whole thing and leave The Collage Atlas in purgatory, he ultimately decided to port the game to PC, telling The Verge that he felt he owed it to his past self, who put so much work into the game.

"This is the sad thing about the way our kind of creative mediums are going: works don’t have any kind of permanence—they can just vanish," he said.

Take a scroll down the mass casualty list at delistedgames.com and you'll probably see one or more games you've played, want to play, or even own in some capacity being shuffled off into a black hole. Thankfully, devs like Evelyn are making the effort to keep their games available. You can now find The Collage Atlas on Steam.

Nova Smith
Contributing Writer

Nova Smith is a freelance writer based out of Alberta, Canada. Nova's grab bag of non-gaming interests and passions includes Japanese mecha anime, miniature painting, as well as history, literature, and classical music. Nova also moonlights as a bureaucrat and amateur historian.