I probably spend way too much time on the internet after work.
It’s amazing how often you can randomly stumble upon something incredibly cool by accident.
One night randomly on Instagram last week, I found myself in the ‘Search’ tab. Where it usually corroborates an assortment of videos and pictures based upon your account and what they think you may be interested in. What I saw was the small ten second preview to slick animation and a caption talking about a man named Vitaliy Shushko and an animation project that took two years to complete.
How could I not look him up to learn more?
X-Story (click the link to see his video).
I had no idea what to expect before I pressed play outside of the preview I had seen on Instagram. But I was not disappointed in the slightest. I definitely don’t want to ruin the slow satisfying burn of the story as you realize that things aren’t 100% what you think they are. The story is best served watching yourself. But I was completely pulled in by the world that was happening in the background.
Thoughts of Ghost in the Shell and contemporary video game properties like Hyper Light Drifter and Transistor were on my mind as points of reference to the design aesthetic of the overall setting. It’s not quite dystopian but it is highly advanced, the advertisements displaying futuristic human augmentations that are available to be sold. This plays into the story later but like I said I won’t spoil it. Some of the places traveled to are endemic of old civilizations that once occupied those spaces. They are mythic in size and build, yet there’s a melancholy to it. Almost as if things went wrong before their intended time.
All of this backdrop doesn’t do anything to ruin the main plot. It doesn’t take very long for the main character to arrive on the scene and to move things forward. What’s well done is that for the most part, there is no audible speaking, mainly gesticulation and grunts. Think The Legend of Zelda. Facial expressions are powerful enough to convey emotions ranging from smug to extreme frustration, and others things scattered in between. I made the analogy of the characters being ‘Disney expressive’ with bright colors that pop out at you, yet there being an extremely subtle undertone of things not being quite right.
The ending left me wanting to see more in this world he created. What was its ‘story?’ What happened to steer civilization towards this aesthetic? How did the regular day-to-day person get by? I really hope he has more planned for this because I would happily support an online series.
What’s the most powerful to me is the dedication towards completing this project. It took two years! I’ll be honest, I don’t really know much at all about the creator outside of positive comments about him on Instagram. But I don’t think that’s necessary in order to critique his work; and quite frankly, he and his team did a stellar job.
Could you stay at the same thing for years, unsure of how it would be received? How passionate are you about doing what you love? These are questions that need to be asked before any creative undertaking. They’re questions that I ask myself. Looking for instant gratification off of this is futile because opinions are fickle at the end of the day. Instead, why not dig deep and create a quality product that you can stand beside?
This really gave me a boost in my day to see something like this done by a person without the need for a giant studio of people and an exorbitant budget. Really proves that all you need is a dollar and dream to get started, perseverance to keep it going, and long-term goals to keep you motivated to finish it.
*The image provided on the main page and the screenshot here come directly from Vitali Shushko’s blog. I don’t claim ownership*