The classic-style adventure game background art of Unavowed

There's an unappreciated art to adventure game backgrounds. They need to be pleasant backdrops to walk in front of multiple times while you're trying to figure out what to do with the custard and the octopus, yet they also need to stand up to the rigorous attention of players hunting for a hotspot because there's a vital clue hidden in that long grass (it's a tiny snake scale, of course). Maybe that's why these environments stick with us. All it takes is a glimpse of the carnival America of Sam & Max: Hit the Road or the imposing Ankh-Morpork buildings of Discworld to take me right back to playing those games.

Ben Chandler is an expert on the subject, having served as artist and animator for Wadjet Eye adventure games like The Shivah: Kosher Edition and Technobabylon. He also wrote a blog about art and composition, and last year we called on his expertise in assembling a gallery of gorgeous adventure game scenes from the pixel art era. Now it's time to celebrate his own work on Wadjet's latest game, Unavowed.

An urban fantasy story set in New York, where a secret society protects the world from various supernatural evils, Unavowed brings some new ideas to the genre. There are four companions with their own abilities, a customisable protagonist, and pop-up descriptions that appear at mouseover so you don't have to right-click to look at every single thing. But Unavowed is still a classic point-and-click, as this collection of backgrounds shows. From its Chinatown streets to a dive bar and a spooky basement, these are  all places that immediately look like they're worth waggling a mouse cursor over.

Click the top-right of each image to embiggen them.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.