Review of Free Guy Took Inspiration From Horizon Zero Dawn, Apex Legends, Twitch, & More

Daljit Kalsi

Free Guy borrows a lot from the video game medium and the culture surrounding it. But the team didn’t view it as a surface-level relationship and instead looked at plenty of video games for inspiration. In a recent interview with ComingSoon, Visual Effects Supervisor Swen Gillberg spoke about what video game-related steps they took to get ideas for the film, which started out with watching a ton of Twitch streams.

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While Grand Theft Auto was one of the biggest influences on the movie, Gillberg spoke about how they watched footage of a wide swath of video games when researching for the film in addition to using the first-hand gaming knowledge of various creative members. Some of these influences are pretty general, like people glitching through walls in the background, but most of the other video games qualities of the film were an amalgamation of many different ideas.

“We really tried to look at as many video games as we could,” he said. “For preproduction, we watched just so many Twitch videos. There’s a pretty big Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto influence on the movie. Grand Theft Auto was probably the biggest one. We also looked at Overwatch, Apex Legends, Red Dead Redemption, Anthem, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Halo but we really tried to diversify as much as we could and get as many different kinds of influences out there as we could. The overlays are really a mixture of a bunch of different games where you could get prizes and treasures for helping the character guide his way through the video game.”

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The film eventually goes into a paradise-like area, which can be easy to liken directly to Horizon Zero Dawn and its post-post-apocalyptic world. However, Gillberg said that Horizon didn’t specifically push the direction of that setting, but a mesh of other video games and what the script was calling for.

“Yeah, that was one of the influences,” he explained. “We really didn’t try to lean on one specific one. We really wanted to keep it alive and varied. But certainly the lushness there was an influence. I think in the script it’s mentioned he basically jumps into a Shangri-La-like area and so we wanted to kind of make it an otherworldly place that is not necessarily just like Earth. If you’ve noticed the plants, they are almost alien. It was influenced by the script, but also by looking at every video game we could get our hands on.”

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