Weekend Hot Topic, Part 1: The Best Artistic Design in Video Games

Zelda: The Wind Waker – a true legend (Photo: Nintendo)

Readers discuss the games with the most distinctive and interesting graphics, from Ōkami to killer7.

This week’s Hot Topic topic was suggested by reader Purple Ranger, and asked how important a game’s art style is to you, and whether it’s enough to get you interested in a game on its own – or to dissuade you.

Despite a high number of entries, some familiar names have returned again and again, with Dishonored, Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Ōkami all praised for their timeless visuals.

Finally respected
For me, it’s a bit obvious. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

The wonderful cel-shaded graphics caused a cut back when the game was released, as they weren’t the realistic game fans wanted and looked like a children’s cartoon; not realizing this was exactly what Nintendo wanted, and you wanted it too, but they were too early to market. Kind of like when Ultimate Play The Game held Knight Lore back in the ZX Spectrum era because the market wasn’t ready for it.

Nowadays, resplendent in its high definition Wii U visuals, it is rightly recognized as the design classic it always should have been. The animation, character design, and the game world are still great, even today, and while the gameplay may have some flaws, I challenge anyone not to sit down and marvel at something. even Disney would be jealous of.

As a work of art, it is stunning and it is quite telling that its closest competitor, Ōkami, fearlessly copies the design, and is all the more wonderful for it.

Artistic priorities
Little Nightmares 2 immediately comes to my mind when I think of an awesome art design. Yes, he wears some of his influences on his cover art (cinematic cues from Delicatessen / City of Lost Children and a slight scent of Limbo / Inside) but the aesthetic is still so confident and consistent: texture work, lighting, character creation … All exceptional. It creates a real sense of belonging – claustrophobic, weird, intriguing (also: Bloodborne. Such a Powerful Vision).

While I’ve always seen myself as a purist when it comes to the importance of gameplay over any artistic / visual merit, as I get older I become more and more concerned about the atmosphere a game conjures up. When I saw the first Deathloop trailer, I hated the art direction: it just didn’t sound like Dishonored. Regardless of the depth of its gameplay and design, that’s a problem for me these days. I must want to be there.

Post-apocalyptic detail
I know there are mixed opinions on the gameplay but the Fallout series does it just for me in general (including 76), especially the art style. Surely anyone, including haters, can donate to the art department. well done for their work? There is so much detail in every game that it’s just plain amazing to me.

I also want to include Half-Life: Alyx, because I also ran for my first place. Recently finished and missing the beauty of the world so much that I’m starting mods and full replay on harder difficulty.

Happy reading every day, as always, thank you GC.
PS Separate topic but while I’m here any news on the Playdate release or is it in COVID limbo?

GC: It appears to be the case. the last major update was in October but the Twitter account suggests that all is well.

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Work of art
The artistic design of Dishonored really added to the atmosphere of the world you were sneaking around or murdering yourself! While I don’t care much about the character designs, they were generally a bit weird and ugly!

While not original (Ōkami did it first!) The idea of ​​having a lack of color in the world of The Saboteur, again, really added to the vibe. You could really feel the oppression in the areas where you had not yet succeeded in inspiring people to fight.

Finally, I’ve been playing older games recently and I really admire all the work done in the environments of the early Devil May Cry and Resident Evil 4.

The whole island of Devil May Cry has such a personality, certainly more so than the downright boring environments of Devil May Cry 5!

I’m in the castle right now in Resident Evil 4 and despite having played this game so many times it still blows me away, not just with the brilliant gameplay but with the way the artistic design again adds such an atmosphere and personality. ! So much work has been done in the environments, some of them you won’t even be in for long, like the lava room with those mechanical dragon gears that breathe fire at you!

Only different
Ecco The Dolphin on Mega Drive had a unique and interesting game world; the original Abe’s Odyssey on PS1 had beautiful atmospheric hand-drawn backgrounds, which completely pulled you into the world.

Killer7, Ico, Shadow Of The Colossus, The Last Of Us, Limbo, The Last Guardian, Horizon Zero Dawn, God Of War, there are so many great games with fantastic art design.

GC: Abe’s Odyssey backgrounds have been pre-rendered. Killer7 is a good choice, however.

Character world
Good hot topic. Artistic design is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of video game development. You know when it’s good, because the world / level becomes a character in its own right.

Dark Souls is a fantastic example. Lordran feels like he is slowly dying, there is an oppressive atmosphere everywhere, then breathtaking surprising moments, like Ash Lake.

I also really liked the artistic design of Metroid Prime. Tallon IV was a joy to explore. In fact, Super Metroid made me feel the same way. If we think back to SNES games, then I’ve always admired Super Castlevania 4 for the art design and the score.

I’m sure Bioshock will receive many mentions, and rightly so. I will also highlight Firewatch. More recently, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild has stood out as having a fantastic art design.

Heavenly brushstrokes
In my mind, the game that best sums up this week’s Hot Topic is Ōkami’s beautiful design. The distinctive sumi-e style, linear ink brush quality, which showcases all aspects of the environment and character design, really added to the immersive feel of the mythology and the larger game world to him. -even. The way the in-game brush mechanics are cleverly tied to this style (though frustrating to some) has helped make the style of the game more than just an aesthetic choice, it has become a key part of the gaming experience. .

I think there’s a timelessness to the style as well, which belies the technical limitations of the time of its release, making it still feel awesome and visually distinctive compared to some of the games of the modern era. . The visual quality of the game certainly piqued my interest before I even saw the game in action and solidified the title as an avid staple.

I think visual distinctiveness plays an extremely important role in the extent to which I could form an initial interest in a game. Perhaps I am more vulnerable to the visual brilliance of this peculiarity, as a person working in it. the creative industry, constantly looking for the next quirky and unique thing to inspire my own work. Or maybe it was born out of the excitement that other choices exist aside from the (mostly) green, gray, and brown color palettes that monopolized game design.

Either way, that’s definitely the key to my decision-making, sometimes even when it comes to gameplay. Disco Elysium would be a good recent example. It was a game that I was really looking forward to experiencing because of its strong visual aesthetic, without really considering whether this would be the kind of game I would enjoy or not (unfortunately, no, as it happened!) . But the visuals were certainly very cool!

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The fine print
New inbox updates appear every morning of the week, with special inboxes for hot topics on weekends. Letters from the Readers are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500-600 word reading feature at any time, which, if used, will be displayed in the next available weekend slot.

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