By Rick Warren / Gfn2112
Plenty of video games rely on a realistic art style, from open world titles like The Witcher 3 to linear shooters like Killzone Shadowfall. While these games are gorgeous, and the realistic visuals suit them well, not all games would benefit from the look. Instead, some developers try to put a unique spin on their games and make them visually appealing in a different way. This week, I'll be sharing five of my absolute favorite art styles. Take a look!
This is easily the least glamorous game on the list. The art style is even simpler than the gameplay, with the developers at Playdead only relying on shades of three colors: gray, black, and white. Little is ever clearly shown to the player, making many locations and enemies open to interpretation. Limbo's art style is anything but detailed. Yet, that lack of detail is exactly what makes it great.
The game's titular setting is a world between life and death, often explained in mythology as confusing and dark. With that in mind, Limbo's art isn't only matching its dark story; the art direction also perfectly matches what Limbo is believed to be like. Limbo is a simple game, with simple gameplay, a simple story and yes, a simple art style. I don't think I would ever like to see it again, because it can only really be done once and be interesting. Limbo is that one, interesting time.
In the next spot sits my favorite Telltale game...
4.) The Wolf Among Us
Having played through this game multiple times, it's hard to imagine it looking any different. The noir style of the story is a huge part of what makes The Wolf Among Us special, but the visuals of the game deserve just as much credit. Based on the lengthy comic book series Fables, it was largely important that the characters and world of Fabletown looked appropriate. Telltale succeeded on that front, delivering a memorable art style that resembled the comic book that was being adapted.
While they used a similar tactic for The Walking Dead and, more recently, Batman, this is by far my favorite of the three. The details on the characters and the brilliant choice of colors make the game stand out far more than the slightly more realistic looks of their other series. From the episode intro to the fight scenes and dialogue, this game left an impression on me thanks to the gorgeous art. Telltale did not hold back or tone things down here in any way; this game is based off comics, and it truly looks like it.
In the third spot, the visual peak of one of the greatest FPS series ever...
3.) Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock is a series renowned for its strong storytelling and amazing settings. The underwater city of Rapture and flying city of Columbia are as unforgettable as the plot twists they contain. Yet, I doubt they'd be as memorable if they looked completely realistic. The old school outfits, plasmids and crazy weapons were all enhanced by the cartoony art style. While each Bioshock game had it, Bioshock Infinite perfected it.
Infinite proves that there is beauty outside of realism, with Columbia's steampunk buildings and enemies shining. The character models are equally great. Seeing Rapture at its best was a treat as well. Like the honorable mention (which you can find in the comments down below), Bioshock is not the only series to use this art style. However, the games used it the best in my opinion. While Overwatch and Dishonored benefit from it, Bioshock needs it to be successful. It makes the bold locations of the games even bolder, and a great series of games even better.
Next up, Media Molecule's under-appreciated platformer...
While the LittleBigPlanet games received the praise and attention they deserved, Media Molecule's other game did not. This is mainly because it launched exclusively on PlayStation Vita... which was pretty much a death sentence for any game. It did get ported to PlayStation 4 eventually, and it finally got a bit more attention from gamers as a PlayStation Plus title. Like the rest of the list, this game was greatly improved by its art, and like Limbo, it has a special art style that will never be seen elsewhere.
Tearaway's paper world is as charming as any other. Everything is made of paper, from the wildlife to the enemies. The various locations stood out because of it, too. Like always, Media Molecule made great use of the lesser-used features of the PlayStation systems. Both the Vita's camera and Dualshock's touch pad offered clever ways to interact with the fun, artistic world. Collectibles came in the form of instructions that taught players how to make things from the game in the real world, and the player's Messenger could be stylized to look like many of the legendary PlayStation characters. It was a game packed with cleverness, and one that deserves a second look.
Finally, in the top spot, the most stylish game of all time...
1.) Persona 5
A few months ago, I wrote my very first article for this website: a review of Persona 5. In it, I showered the game with praise, going as far as calling it "one of the most unique games I've ever played". Three months later, I stand by everything I said... especially that statement. It's a perfect combination of the great mechanics, soundtrack, and (you guessed it) the art that make it so special.
Every aspect of Persona 5 is a pleasure to look at. The colorful exploration sections, the anime cutscenes and the concept art-like finisher screens all come together to give the game personality on a level of its own. The impressive designs of the various Personas, the oddly satisfying menu system and HUD help even more. I really could talk a lot more about how visually satisfying this game is, but that would not do it justice. Persona 5's visuals are just as great as its soundtrack and characters. If you haven't played it, do so immediately. Persona 5 is a special game, and it's something that all gamers should play, not just JRPG fans.
That's all, everyone! Hope you enjoyed this weeks Top 5, and I'll be here with another next Friday.
What's your favorite video game art style? Leave it in the comments below!