Here is a sentence from a space adventure game's description:

Inspired by Wells and Tolkien, with a winking, sepia-tinged nod to steampunk, this game has a playful feel.

I know the lexical meanings of the words "winking", "sepia", "tinged" and "nod", but I cannot figure out the meaning of the said phrase.


There is an expression "with a nod to ..." We nod to acknowledge someone (if you see someone you know you might nod to them to say "I recognize you" even if you don't have time to say hello)

So saying that the game "with a nod to steampunk" means that the game's creator acknowledges the influence of steampunk on the design of the game.

Winking is done to share a joke or a shared secret. So the influence of steampunk is in someway ironic.

In Steampunk everything is kind of old fashioned, like old photographs are in shades of brown. These are called "sepia photographs". In steampunk, perhaps everything is sepia. This is a joke (as a nod can't actually be sepia)

So while the main influence is Tolkien and Wells, it also ironically references the sepia-toned world of Steampunk.


That's a really funny way to phrase something! It's very full of imagery. I like it.

This is kind of combining several different phrases together.

with a nod to

means "in the style of", or "acknowledging the style of". Your sentence mentioned Tolkien, so I'll use him for an example. Say I was really inspired by Tolkien's writing style, and I wrote a book attempting to emulate his style. I could say something like:

My book is a fantasy epic, with a nod to Tolkien's style of vast world-building

or something like that.


Old pictures have a reddish-brown tint to them:

enter image description here

So this part means the game intentionally tries to feel retro, or old school, like steampunk, which is generally designed to remind people of the 1800s.


Well, you know what winking means. If you wink at someone, you're laughing with them, and subtly saying:

Hey, you're in on the joke with me.

It's like the developers saying: "Hey, I know this is copying steampunk. Isn't it great?"

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