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The Inspiration Behind Ico's Iconic Cover Art

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Forget the woeful American cover for a minute, and instead let's focus on the Japanese and European box art for PS2 classic Ico. It's as memorable for many as the game itself, with its bold art style and rich colours.

So I thought for today's Total Recall we'd look back at the artist, and one of his paintings in particular, which inspired not only the cover, but the game itself.


The Japanese/European art, which was thankfully also used for the recent American re-release, was directly inspired by a painting called The Nostalgia of the Infinite by Giorgio de Chirico, one of the great artists of the early 20th century.

De Chirico, considered the founder of the Metaphysical art movement, was born in Greece in 1888. A surrealist, his early works inspired the likes of Dali and Max Ernst, and while he would continue painting into his nineties, his efforts around the time of the First World War are considered his strongest.


Completed sometime between 1911 and 1914, The Nostalgia of the Infinite (left) features two small, dark and lonely figures dwarfed by an enormous tower. It's a theme that runs through many of De Chirico's other works as well, like The Anguish of Departure and The Red Tower, which also show large structures looming over small, lonely people.

De Chirico wasn't just the starting point for the cover art, either (which, as you can see, has a lot in common with Nostalgia). Ico creator Fumito Ueda has cited his entire body of work as a big inspiration in the development of the game (alongside Eric Chahi's Another World), as that loneliness they capture so well, that feeling of being almost trapped by an overpowering building, carries through into Ico and is present from the moment you start playing until almost the very end.


De Chirico passed away in Rome on 20 November, 1978, at the age of 90. You can see more works similar to The Nostalgia of the Infinite at his WikiPaintings page.

Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


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