I do love me some firsts. First time writing about games like INSOMNIA: The Ark. Furthermore, first time writing themes like Dieselpunk. And yes. Some cool movies I’ve not mentioned before. Well not here at IndieGala anyway.
But I’m always up for a challenge and new topics to explore. New games as well. Sure, I got the opportunity to tackle Cyberpunk before (check that article here), but Dieselpunk is a bit different subgenre altogether. Which is why I’m excited to present INSOMNIA: The Ark.
What’s INSOMNIA: The Ark All About You Might Ask?
Developed by Mono Studio and published by HeroCraft, Ltd, INSOMNIA: The Ark is a dieselpunk sci-fi RPG. It’s also a game about the slowly degrading remnants of human society attempting to survive on an abandoned space metropolis.
So, you can develop your character, explore lovingly handcrafted locations, and interact with peculiar NPCs and factions. Not to mention you can craft equipment and try to stay alive in this brutal world. After severe complications and 8+ years development cycle, the game was released in September 2018.
Finally, the game allows you to experience a neo-noir world with elements of dieselpunk. And to witness man-made apocalyptic landscapes imbued with a dark ambient soundtrack and echoes of a decaying civilization.
And what are some of the Steam user comments saying about the game?
* It’s rough, it’s from Slavs, and it’s got, heart. The game certainly brings me back to my childhood of Fallout 1-2, while mixing with my teens for sci-fi with a dieselpunk aesthetic. Says Salty Soykaf on Steam.
* While Carl adds: A cool game with a huge world, despite it taking place in a spaceship. Quest design is old-school, with branching dialogue trees and unclear directions. I like it this way 🙂
INSOMNIA: The Ark is available for purchase here at IndieGala. And so is the INSOMNIA: The Ark.- deluxe set (check it out here). However, if you’re exploring various other games to purchase, then you should visit some of our sales. Our Crypto sale is still going strong, and you can visit it here. And I cannot simply forget about our Capcom Sale. You can check it out here as well.
And What About Dieselpunk? What’s Special About That?
Well, according to the strict definition, it’s a retro-futuristic subgenre of science fiction. And it’s quite similar to steampunk or cyberpunk in many ways. So, Diseselpunk combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period through to the 1950s, with retro-futuristic technology. And postmodern sensibilities of course. However, the actual name “dieselpunk” is a derivative of the science fiction sub-genre cyberpunk and represents the time period from World War I until the 1950s. You know, when diesel-based locomotion was the main technological focus of Western culture.
And yes, you can find the main source for inspiration in the title itself. Or better yet, in the name. Dieselpunk draws its inspiration from the diesel era and is a characteristic referred to by dieselpunk as „decodence“. Or to clarify a portmanteau of “Art Deco” and “decadence”. But yeah. The sub-genre embraces the styles and technologies of the era. From the Jazz age to ambiance to the WW2 décor. And yes. World War II also plays a major role in dieselpunk. Especially in the school of the genre referred to as “Piecraftian.“
But the influence of dieselpunk goes beyond the mainstream. It can be found in art, music, literature, movies and video games. Although the term “dieselpunk” was not coined until 2001, a large body of art significant to the development of the genre was produced before that.
For instance, Alternative history and World War II feature prominently in dieselpunk literature. But as we previously mentioned, WW2 is a strong influence on the sub-genre. So much so that dieselpunk can be divided into two primary themes or styles: Ottensian and Piecraftian. The dividing line between the two themes is commonly acknowledged as the start of World War II.
INSOMNIA: The Ark (Dieselpunk In Video Games And Movies)
Yes, we mentioned that dieselpunk is present in those two industries. However, it’s good to mention some of the best examples of dieselpunk in both movies and video games. Let’s start with the games, shall we?
The first games that come to mind when we’re talking about dieselpunk influence are obviously, Final Fantasy VII, Fallout, BioShock. Some even go as far as defining BioShock (available here at IndieGala) as both retro-futuristic biopunk and diesel-pun game, but you get my picture.
Then there’s Activision’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein. And we can’t forget about Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Crimson Skies, Iron Storm and the Killzone series. Turning Point: Fall of Liberty (2008), Sine Mora (2012), Iron Harvest (2020) are also good examples. But when it comes to the movies… You’re gonna have to scroll down. We have a nice selection of dieselpunk-inspired movies for you. You’re welcome.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
A prime example of „Ottensian” (pre-WWII) dieselpunk movie, with a fantastic cast in it. That’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow all right. Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie occupy the lead roles, but this is a stunning movie as well. But yeah. It draws influence from so many other things. Not just dieselpunk. The 1953 version of War Of The Worlds for one. Then there’s the influence from The Mechanical Monsters and of course the 1933 version of King Kong. Just to name a few. But the movie is about a reporter’s investigation of the sudden attacks from robots. And the renaissance of the famous scientists of the world. It’s a unique and stylish movie that deserves your attention.
Fun fact: During the Giant Robots scene, you can see King Kong climbing the Empire State Building in the background.
Another visually stunning film. And criminally underrated one. Seriously, if you’re looking for a good recommendation about the Rocketeer, then go ahead and turn to RLM. Red Letter Media of course. The guys from RLM did an incredible throwback for the movie a few years back. And the movie is deserving of all the praise it can get. It has fantastic actors too (Jennifer Connelly, Bill Cambell and Timothy Dalton are the first that come to mind). And great plot as well. It’s the story of stunt pilot Cliff Secord. He’ll stumble upon a hidden rocket-powered jet pack and with that, he’ll get the attention of Howard Hughes and the FBI. It’s a wonderful film and a Disney movie that was only made in the ’90s. A must-watch.
Fun fact: Joe Johnston’s work on this film is what led to his hiring as director of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).
Oh, Dark City. How I love this movie. It has neo-noir and dieselpunk influences in it. And it’s the second movie on this list to have Jennifer Conelly in the cast. But Rufus Sewell plays John Murdoch in Dark City. And amnesiac that’s framed for murder. Now, he’ll need to discover the truth about his unfortunate situation, but he’ll discover something even bigger. Sewell is devilishly good here, but frankly so is Connely. Not to forget about Kiefer Sutherland and William Hurt, who are also great. But yeah. It’s a dark, moody and enigmatic film that you just won’t see getting made these days. I love it.
Fun fact: A number of pieces of the set, including those used for the rooftop chase, were sold to the production of The Matrix (1999) at the end of shooting.
Brazil is probably my all-time favorite Terry Gilliam movie. It’s a tragic movie, but visually stunning nonetheless. It’s a dystopian, absurdist, and depressing Kafkaesque movie that hits the marks on almost every field. Good direction, acting and production design that still holds the bar today. It’s also a dark reminder of the future that Gilliam envisioned for us. But it’s a fantastic movie that deserves your attention. It’s also the movie that made me a die-hard Jonathan Pryce fan. I highly recommend it.
Fun fact: Despite the problems Terry Gilliam had directing Robert De Niro, De Niro said he had a wonderful time on the production and would gladly work with Gilliam again.
Tim Burton’s Batman
Probably one of the top 3 Batman movies. And I don’t know what’s more iconic. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Batman or Batman itself. However, it’s a dark and stylishly beautiful movie that pays homage to movies like Metropolis. Also, you can find traces of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the but dieselpunk motives a subtle here. It’s worth going back to of course. Regardless if you’re a fan of Joel Schumacher’s rendition of the franchise. Or Christopher Nollan’s for that matter. Tim Burton’s Batman remains a true classic for the ages.
Fun fact: Jack Nicholson said of his role, “The thing I like about the Joker is that his sense of humor is completely tasteless.” He later said The Joker was one of his favorite roles he played.
Are You A Fan Of INSOMNIA: The Ark?
Let us know in the comment section if you are. Also, feel free to share your favorite dieselpunk movie. We’d love to know all about it.