Sisyphus Development


The project was inspired by games that use environmental story telling to convey a narrative to players. Sisyphus's landscape and emotional stages followed the Kubler-Ross graph describing the 5 stages of grief.

"Journey" inspired me with its amazing environmental story telling using lighting, colour and music. I was also inspired by smaller games like "A Short Hike". It's makes good use of world building and uses interesting game mechanics that add to the immersion. The myth of Sisyphus was also of course a huge inspiration and I researched its symbolism as a modern tale.

"Tintin", a Belgian comic was a large influence for the games colour and style. The artist Herge’s drawings depicting the comics have a unique style. This outlined style can also be seen in art from Japanese prints from the 19th Century.


The world has 5 different areas to represent each stage of grief. The world reflects these stages through colour and height. The terrain was built using Unity’s inbuilt tools, using a tri-planar shader for auto height texturing.  Lots of terrain and level design tests were done before actually building the world. It took practice to smooth the terrain and work out how steep the terrain could be for the large head to be pushed up. I split the mountain into the five stages of grief reflecting this with custom assets. I also set up dialogue triggers along the way as the player rolls their head to the end to convey a narrative.

One of my main goals of the project was to create something that makes good use of atmosphere. I focused on creating immersive audio and music to add an extra layer of depth. There is a short audio intro starting the narrative, where I got my girlfriend to record a short scene which I patched together with gunfire sounds. I think this helped add something extra to the game and successfully set the tone of the project.


The first stage of development was note taking. It was helpful to draw out little comic sketches. Experimenting with dialogue and narrative. I used my notebook to map out mini prototypes for what the story and game-play would contain playing with humour and drawing small mechanics.