Bringing Recompile’s striking art style to life

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Bringing Recompile’s striking art style to life

Explore the retro futuristic world of Mainframe and avoid deletion on August 19.

Recompile is available on August 19 on PlayStation 5! We hope that this next-gen optimized title will provide players with a unique experience that we have spent so long striving to create. An atmospheric explorative-platformer meets hacking adventure, Recompile features intense combat, tight 3D platforming, super-powered abilities, environmental logic-based hacking mechanics, and a unique stylized visual identity.

Bringing Recompile’s striking art style to life

In this game you’ll play as a sentient virus, a program created by the enigmatic Janus as you try to escape deletion whilst infiltrating the sprawling 3D virtual world of the Mainframe. Your end mission is unclear, but you know that you’ll have to hack, repair and dismantle various systems in order to benefit your creators and perhaps even contribute to saving humankind.

You’ll discover the origins of the Hypervisor, the AI antagonist hell-bent on halting your progress at every opportunity, and eventually you will unravel the true purpose of the mysterious Mainframe.

The Mainframe: A retro futuristic virtual world

The landscape of the Mainframe is completely open and explorable. We’ve crafted a small yet fully-realized environment bursting with character and details. There are multiple biomes, each representing a single function of the computer system you’ve been tasked to infiltrate. From the heavily armed security fortifications of Tet to the authoritarian engineered world of Hex, each location requires different skills and strategies to master.

To create the Mainframe we combined stylized 3D environment assets with innovative use of shaders and technical art, giving Recompile a striking art style to immerse players on a whole new level.

The Program

Designing Recompile’s protagonist was one of the many happy accidents that arose during the game’s prototyping phase. Because the character is a computer virus, we wanted something a little different to the traditional hero design. We also didn’t have a dedicated character artist at the time, but one of the core team members is a VFX and animation specialist. Our idea was to make the character consist entirely of animated particles, and so we ended up creating a voxel-based particle rendering system, to represent the player being made of code and pure energy. The accompanying videos and gifs went viral on social media, and so the design stuck, and it became an important part of Recompile’s iconic visual style.


One of the biggest features of the game and one I’m personally the most proud of is our custom UI rendering system, built completely from scratch. A text based “ASCII” framework, PhiOS gives us the ability to create retro futuristic 80’s style command line terminal interfaces, but with modern design sensibilities. This kind of animated “Hollywood” user interface I feel is one that is quintessentially Recompile.

The journey to Recompile 

The project now known as Recompile has actually been through multiple iterations and prototypes over the years. I’ve always known that I wanted to make a game based inside a computer, with gated, explorative platformer mechanics, but through experimentation this basic idea has taken on many forms:

  • Fort Mainframe 2015 Prototype 1 – A turn-based puzzle/strategy game
  • Fort Mainframe 2016 Prototype 2 – An faux-isometric action platformer
  • Fort Mainframe 2017 Prototype 3 – A “return to basics” 3D platformer with rudimentary placeholder cube graphics, designed to inspire future team members to “fill in the missing gaps”

Unity and HDRP 

Finally, I want to give a nod to one of the most important game development technologies of the generation, and without it Recompile could absolutely not exist. Unity has given us great power in developing this ambitious title, and the recent upgrade to its rendering system in the form of HDRP (High Definition Rendering Pipeline) has been a total lifesaver for Phigames, giving us a clear route to export to powerful next-generation consoles such as the PS5.

We hope that you are as excited to play the game as we were making it. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and good luck with the hack!

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