After Barcelona-based Octavi Navarro worked on the art for Terrible Toybox’s point-and-click game Thimbleweed Park, he decided to embark on his own project: Midnight Scenes. It’s inspired by one of his favorite TV shows, The Twilight Zone, and it’s the first game he’s developed as a solo act. He’s released one episode so far called The Highway, and it’s available to download for free on indie platform Itch.io for PC and Mac.
Navarro was an illustrator for children’s books, but in 2014, he decided to try his hand with a pixel art palette. Since then, he’s created dozens of what he calls “pixel art paintings” under the moniker Pixels Huh. His main inspiration is the video games he grew up on, such as LucasArts’s Monkey Island series and Sierra On-Line’s Space Quest.
“When I was a kid I was in love with LucasArts’s adventure games, and I think you can see that fact reflected on my illustrations,” said Navarro in an email to GamesBeat. “I was always fascinated by the work of artists who worked on ’80-’90s video games, and the things they were able to accomplish with the technical limitations of the time.”
He uploads his process on his YouTube channel and also offers a behind-the-scenes look for folks who support him on the subscription-based platform Patreon. This caught the eye of Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, industry legends who previously designed adventure classics like Maniac Mansion and tapped Navarro for Thimbleweed Park.
“Working on a point-and-click adventure game with this super-talented team was an incredible experience, so when the production of Thimbleweed Park reached its end, I was left wanting more,” said Navarro. “That’s why I decided to do my own adventure games in my spare time.”
The Highway is only the first episode of the Midnight Scenes series, which promises short, surreal adventures. It’s light on text save for the Rod Serling-inspired intro and outro. Instead, it mostly focuses on atmosphere — the main character Claire’s footsteps, an eerie soundtrack, and grayscale portraits that suggest something ominous has occurred.
Since it’s the first game Navarro’s developed on his own, he’s allotted himself three months to work on each episode and intends to keep each one fairly short. He’s already working on the next installment in the series, which he says will be longer than The Highway.
“Each episode will be a little mystery story,” said Navarro. “I haven’t decided how many episodes I’m going to create yet, but I have a ton of ideas in my head. My intention is to make a trilogy and then decide if I want to continue or if I want to start a completely different series.”