Source Engine Aesthetics is a museum of level design vibes from 2004 to 2014

An image from half-life 2 mod Snowdrop Escape
(Image credit: SDE Dev Team, Valve)

What do SiN Episodes, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and Pirates, Vikings, and Knights 2 have in common? They're all Source engine games, which means that even though they have wildly different art styles, they somehow all look like Source engine games

Identifying a game's engine is kind of like identifying what kind of paint was used: Even if they're very different from each other, two oil paintings both look like oil paintings, not acrylics or watercolors. The effect is easy to see via Twitter account Source Engine Aesthetics, which was created by Dusk developer David Szymanski. He's on a mission to collect iconic screenshots from the Source era of mods and games, as well as some general dreamscapes. 

The shots of mainstream games are familiar, though still enjoyable to see again. And there are some surprises—Ravenholm doesn't look as memorable as I thought it would. 

The mods are where there's a really fascinating diversity of ideas on display, even if what you see is mostly the same Half-Life 2 textures and models. It's in how those components are used that the creators express themselves. 

There is serious talent in some of these old maps: Have you seen the Warcelona campaign for Left 4 Dead 2, which faithfully recreates famous locations in Barcelona? I hadn't and it's amazing:

There's an embarrassment of other fascinating discourse and imagery on the account. If you're on Twitter, you can follow @sourcepics.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.