Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: best art design in video games

Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

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

Readers discuss games with the most distinctive and attractive graphics, from us to killer7.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by readers of Purple Ranger, and asked how important the game’s art style is to you and whether that alone was enough to get you interested in the game – or put it off.

Despite the high number of entries, some familiar names pop up again and again, with Dishonored, Zelda: The Wind Waker, and us all being praised for their timeless visuals.

Respected at last
For me, this is a bit of a no-brainer. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Builder.

The incredible cel-shaded visuals caused quite a stir at the game’s release, as it didn’t turn out to be a game that looked as realistic as fans wanted and looked like a children’s cartoon; didn’t realize that was what Nintendo wanted, and you wanted them too, but they were too early to put on the market. A bit like when Ultimate Play The Game held off Knight Lore in the days of ZX Spectrum because the market wasn’t ready for it.

Today, majestic in the high definition visuals of the Wii U, it is recognized, indeed, as a classic design that should always be. The animations, character designs, and game worlds still look stunning, even today, and, while the gameplay may have a few flaws, I challenge anyone not to sit back and admire something even Disney would envy.

As a work of art, it is extraordinary and quite telling that its closest competitor, we, fearlessly imitated its design, and is more beautiful for it too.

Artistic priority
Little Nightmares 2 immediately comes to mind when I think of the impressive art design. Yes, it’s got some of its influences up its sleeve (cinematic cues from Delicatessen/City of Lost Children and a hint of Limbo/Inside scent) but the aesthetic is still so confident and cohesive: the texture work, the lighting, the character designs… everything is great. It creates a real sense of place – claustrophobic, scary, exciting (Also: Through the Blood. Such a powerful vision).

While I’ve always considered myself a bit pristine when it comes to the importance of gameplay versus any artistic/visual value, as I get older, I’ve become more concerned with the atmosphere the game creates. When I saw the first trailer for Deathloop, I hated the art direction: it didn’t resonate like Dishonored did. Despite the depth of the gameplay and the design, it’s been a problem for me lately. I must want to be there.

Post-apocalyptic details
I know opinions are divided on gameplay but the Fallout series just did it for me in general (76 included), in particular the art style. Surely anyone, including haters, can provide art dept. praise for their work? There is so much detail that goes into every game that it really surprises me.

I also wanted to include Half-Life: Alyx because I also ran for my top spot. Recently finished and missed the beauty of the world so much that I started with mods and full replays on harder difficulties.

Great reading everyday as usual, thanks GC.
PS: Separate subject but while I’m here, any news about the Playdate release or is it in COVID limbo?

GC: It seems so. NS the last major update was in October but Twitter account shows everything ticking together.

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Dishonored’s art design really adds to the ambiance of the world you’re sneaking or killing in! Although I don’t really care about the character designs, they generally look a bit weird and ugly!

While unoriginal (Ōwe did it first!), the idea of ​​a lack of color in The Saboteur’s world, once again, really adds to the atmosphere. You can really feel the oppression in areas you haven’t mastered to inspire people to fight back.

Lastly, I’ve been playing some old games recently and I really admire all the work that has been done in the Devil May Cry environment and the first Resident Evil 4.

All Devil May Cry islands have that kind of personality, certainly much more than the frankly boring environment of Devil May Cry 5!

I’m in the castle right now in Resident Evil 4 and despite the fact that I’ve played this game so many times it still blows me away, not just with the brilliant gameplay but with how great the art design adds to such ambiance and personality. ! So much work has been done in the environment, some of which you won’t even have long, such as a lava room with a mechanical dragon contraption that shoots fire at you!
Last Year’s Model

Uniquely different
Ecco The Dolphin on Mega Drive has a unique and interesting game world; The original Odyssey Abe on PS1 has a beautiful hand-drawn atmospheric backdrop, which draws you completely 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 out there with fantastic art designs.

GC: The background for Abe’s Odyssey has been pre-rendered. Killer7 is a good call.

A world of character
Nice hot topic. Art design, in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of video game development. You know when it’s good, because the world/level becomes a character by itself.

Dark Souls is a fantastic example. Lordran feels like slowly dying, there is an oppressive atmosphere throughout, and then shocking moments that take you in awe, like Ash Lake.

I also really like Metroid Prime’s art design. Tallon IV is fun to explore. In fact, Super Metroid makes me feel the same way. If we think back on SNES games, then I’ve always admired Super Castlevania 4 for both the art design and the score.

I’m sure Bioshock will receive a lot of designations, and rightly so. I will also highlight Firewatch. Recently, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild stood out to me for having fantastic art designs.

Heavenly brush strokes
In my opinion, the game that best sums up this week’s Hot Topic is our beautiful design. The distinctive sumi-e style, the quality of the linear ink brushes featured in all aspects of the environmental and character designs really add to the immersive feel of the mythology and the wider game world itself. The way the in-game brush mechanics cleverly tie into this style (although frustrating for some) helps make the style of play more than just an aesthetic choice, it becomes an important part of the gameplay experience.

I feel there’s also a timelessness to its style, which belies the technical limitations of its time of release, allowing it to still feel impressive and visually distinct when compared to some games from the modern era. The visual quality of the game certainly caught my eye before I even saw the game in action and cemented its title as a must-have game.

I think visual quirks play a very important role in the extent to which I can form an initial interest in a game. Maybe I’m more susceptible to this quirk of visual quirks, as someone who works in the creative sector, constantly looking for the next quirky and unique thing to inspire my own work. Or maybe it was born out of excitement that other options are out of (mostly), the green, gray and brown color palette used to monopolize game design.

Regardless, it’s definitely key to my decision-making, sometimes even more so than a gameplay issue. Disco Elysium would be a great and recent example. It was a game I was really excited to experience for its strong visual aesthetic, without really considering whether or not it would be the kind of game I might enjoy (unfortunately, no, as it happens!). But the visuals must be really cool!

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Small print
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