Timo Kuilder blurs boundaries of gaming and art with maze app

Kontrast brings together Kuilder’s abstract, monochrome illustrations with his brother Jurre’s coding skills, and is accompanied by an ambient soundtrack created by sound designer Ambrose Yu.

Since the birth of the smartphone first ushered in a whole wave of games designed for mobile, gaming apps have typically been associated with garish colours and cartoon-like graphics. But with the huge success of mobile games such as the original Monument Valley and its recent sequel, it’s clear that engaging gameplay and beautiful visuals no longer have to be mutually exclusive when developing new games.

Amsterdam-based Illustrator Timo Kuilder is hoping to tap into the demand for aesthetically pleasing gaming with his latest self-initiated project, an interactive, illustrated puzzle game called Kontrast. Created in collaboration with his younger brother Jurre over the past year and a half, the game brings to life Kuilder’s trademark, geometric illustrations in the form of a series of mazes. The player is challenged to move, drag and rotate various shapes around in order to navigate their way through different levels of the game.

The visuals seen in the game are indicative of Kuilder’s illustration style, which typically features simple, abstract shapes and a stripped-back colour palette. Set entirely in black and white (hence the choice of name), Kuilder hopes that people will see Kontrast as something between an artwork and a game.

“Most of my commissioned work is either static or slightly animated, and I was looking for a way to make it more interactive,” says the illustrator. “The game’s visuals really started out as illustrations that we were looking to make more entertaining, and the gameplay evolved from that.”

Kuilder’s brother Jurre – a creative developer at digital agency Fonk Amsterdam – worked on the coding and helped to define all the interactions in the game, which are inspired by 20th century illustrator Rube Goldberg’s famous, instruction-based works.

Sound designer Ambrose Yu has also helped to bring the game to life, making an ambient music loop for each level and sound effects for every interactive element. “In a way they become like tiny soundscapes,” says Kuilder. “This helps explain to the player which objects can be moved or adjusted, as they are the only ones that have a sound when you tap them. If it doesn’t make a sound, you can ignore it!”

Kontrast is available to download from the App Store and Google Play