I guess "too simple" isn't the worry; maybe "not enough information." I don't want my stuff to get so abstracted that it's indecipherable. I have been, however, looking at media that tells the story with out the use of words or an emotive protagonist/character (such as the game journey), so if you have any suggestions for reference it would be much appreciated!
I think abstracted is good. I'll keep an eye out for anything that you might help. But yeah, I made a movie about a girl with no face, so I'm all about losing the detail and reducing to the essentials. As long as it's person-shaped, I'm for it.
Yeah, it would make my life a lot easier if I just made the faces a little more human, but I just can't do it. I don't know, I like it better this way, plus the bodies are already so anthropomorphized. I have been, however, looking at media that tells the story with out the use of words or an emotive protagonist/character (such as the game journey), so if you have any suggestions for reference it would be much appreciated!
I don't know that they need to be super humanized, but the ability to bring across basic, readable expressions could help you a lot when it comes to clarity. Maybe a teeny mouth would be going too far, but see if you can get the eyes set up to do some emoting without breaking the style you want. I know from my many years of TMNT fan-hood that you can get a surprising range from the simplest of eyes (in their case, white specks) so I guess that's something to experiment with.
And that's true! Journey did do its thing without words or needing to really see the character emote (need to watch a playthrough still, oy). If that's the kind of feel you want, I can see how these designs could work in that context. You'll just have to remember to keep things very clear and you should be OK.
As for reference, hmmm. I'd suggest going through some good dialogue-free short films, maybe dissect a couple scenes and see how they're conveying their information. Here's one I just saw tonight: [link]