The Art Of Destiny Review: Insight Editions' Book Provides A Beautiful Look At The Concepts And Illustrations Behind Bungie's Shooter

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Feb 23, 2015 07:26 PM EST
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Regardless of any faults you may personally find with Destiny, one enduring positive is the game's beautiful visuals and art design. Perhaps more than any other big budget title I've seen, Destiny truly looks like concept art come to life. There may not be a plethora of worlds in the online shooter, but it's undeniable that the ones Bungie did craft are expertly drawn and beautifully imagined.

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Insight Editions' The Art of Destiny hardcover book captures the best of the developer's work, boasting hundreds of illustrations and sketches from the design process. It shows us the general path the project took from planning to production, as well as the individual drawings that inspired the digital world now inhabited by millions of players. I unabashedly love the game's visuals (see a gallery of our best screenshots), and The Art of Destiny shows off many of the impressive pieces from the artists at Bungie.

We received a high-definition digital copy of the book from its creators, so bear in mind that I can't speak to the quality of the physical edition. The art on its pages, however, is fantastic. Players will immediately recognize iconic figures from the game such as The Traveler, as well as many of the locations you've no doubt traveled to during your journey. It's neat to see the original vision of that Strike mission you've run many times, and the art itself is frankly good enough that anyone should enjoy flipping through the book and appreciating the illustrations, even if they haven't played the game.

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It also reminds you what could have been. I would argue the art and design of Destiny are its strongest attributes, and the game falls short in regard to varied content and narrative. Some of the art and locations in the book clearly didn't make it into the game--and I'm sure there are examples of this for every title--but the concepts certainly make you wish they did. Destiny presents itself as having a grand scope (particularly with its great, sweeping score), and you can see why from the original art: a traditional stone city engulfed in a forest, a variety of world and terrain types, and an assortment of foreign enemies. I wish more of the designs captured in the book were real locations in the game, but they have at least been preserved here.

You can see threads of some of these ideas present in the in-game visuals, or locales that look similar, but the art seen in the book depicts an even more mystical world. There's a small text segment about how the designers were inspired by fantasy settings--and that's clear to anyone who has played the game--but its roots in sci-fi make for some really appealing mixed imagery. The sketches of character design alternates and costumes are equally interesting, and the book provides visual insight into the artists' processes of evolving a character or enemy to the final product.

Whether you're adding to a collection or looking for a good coffee table book, I can't imagine any fans of the game would be disappointed with the illustrations offered in The Art of Destiny. There are some genuinely beautiful drawings, interesting sketches, and a chance to see some of the concepts that didn't make it into Bungie's game, but helped inspire its creation nonetheless.

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We reviewed a digital copy of The Art of Destiny provided by Insight Editions. The book is currently available on their website for $45.00.

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