BYU Animation Claims Another Student Emmy with "Liminus"
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The Y Report

The Silent Guard

An internationally award-winning video game—about herding sheep?

A glowing gold figure stands on a stone column overlooking a dark forest, gazing towards a tall, double-spired transparent structure on the horizon.
In the video game Liminus, players take on the role of a mystical shepherd guiding souls to the afterlife. Courtesy of Emily Ellis.

Bloodred eyes glower from the shadows of a dark forest. A wolf snarls and descends on a trembling lamb.

Thwack! A gold-cloaked figure faces the stunned predator, shepherd’s crook primed for another blow. The beast slinks away; the lamb nuzzles its protector.

So begins Liminus: The Silent Guard, a video game created entirely by BYU students. The game, which casts players as a mystical shepherd of lost sheep needing guidance to the afterlife, won a “highly commended” Rookie Award from the Rookies, a professional association for digital artists working on video games and animation. For the first time, BYU also ranked in the Rookies’ top five schools for production excellence.

What makes Liminus special?

“I wanted to tell a new take on the Grim Reaper, shepherding souls to the afterlife,” says director Emily A. Ellis (BFA ’23). Ellis formed the idea on her mission and pitched it to her fellow students for a capstone project in 2021. In the finished game, “there’s a little bit of exploration and there’s a little bit of mystery, darkness, and combat,” says Ellis.

To realize that vision, she collaborated with 30 student artists, coders, composers, level designers, and others alongside lead producer Gabriel J. Reed (BS ’23).

“The great thing about big teams is that you get input from everyone,” Reed says. All that input, Reed explains, meant listening to developers and play-testers while relying on Ellis’s original concept.

The process involved some creative tug-of-war, but “I’m happy with what we came up with,” Reed says.

For Ellis Liminus is deeply symbolic. Drawing on scriptural parables, the game’s golden-cloaked shepherd recalls Christ—and the wandering sheep our own souls.

“Some don’t see the gospel elements, and that’s totally okay,” Ellis says. “But for me, it’s a very personal gospel story.”