There used to be an argument that video games were somehow not considered art. Preposterous I know. Thankfully, these days those kinds of mindsets are few and far between. Whilst video games have come an incredibly long way in terms of visual fidelity, detail, lighting, and photorealism. There are so many games that I love for their stylistic choices, lower poly textures, and unique aesthetics.
We all know that games such as God of War, Forza, Ghosts of Tsushima, and Red Dead Redemption have fantastic visuals. However, I find myself enjoying the look of games that do things a little differently. Because of that, I wanted to share some of my favourite video game aesthetics over the years.
The most recent game on the list is the retro action-adventure Narita Boy. With its unique digital kingdom with a retro-futuristic vibe. Narita Boy looks like if Tron merged with Blade Runner. With every area I visited a was smiling at the weird characters and wonderful backdrops.
There is an immense sense of scale and intrigue with Below. The mysterious island houses structures that run deep underground. Your adeventurer feels so small compared to everything that you can’t help but feel slightly insignificant to the grand scale as you explore further.
In Other Waters
Traversing an alien ocean has rarely looked so good. In the suit of an AI you help guide Ellery through literal alien fauna and flora. With its simple and intuitive user interface featuring bright and bold colour schemes throughout, In Other Waters was a joy to take in. Life is only represented by rudimentary shapes, yet the world still feels alive and believable as you venture onwards.
Sea of Thieves
Do you ever see a photograph of some tropical beach and think “I really wish I could jump into that sea right now”. That’s how Sea of Thieves makes me feel. Sea of Thieves is immediately recognizable with the almost cartoon-like appearance it still has some of the best vistas of almost any game. The lushest of sunsets, and fantastic rolling seas. This game is a masterpiece in balancing the perfect aesthetic.
Immersion is an important part of the gaming experience. People want to feel like they exist in the world they’re playing in. Duskers is such an excellent example of immersion – similar to In Other Waters. The design is so simple yet so effective. You explore derelict spaceships using drones. You have a simple interface and a DOS-like command system to control your drones. It’s not hard to imagine yourself as someone sat on a computer aboard a ship somewhere manually controlling the drones. When a game manages to feel terrifying at times through such a simple interface, you know they’ve nailed it. With constant tension provided by the low-quality feeds you can’t help but be drawn in.
The Ori Series
Swinging from vine to vine, tree to tree. Traveling through dark and moody tunnels, soaring across the water, and more. The Ori series has some of the most vibrant and diverse looking biomes designed with such beauty that each jump and springful step is a joy to take. Filled to the brim with interesting characters and stunning backdrops to accompany the fantastic story. It’s no wonder that Ori is one of my favourite ever video game series. Even the darkest most oppressive areas still shine with some beauty
Almost acting as the antithesis of Ori is Hollow Knight. With its dark, gothic-looking towns, caverns, and constructions. It’s like if A Bugs Life was made by Tim Burton. Hollow Knight is still a game packed with stunning creation and style. There is a mysterious undertone to the whole game that draws you in.
There are no doubt more games that I could list here and maybe I will do another at some point. However, for now, I will just leave you with these fantastic games that deserve every bit of recognition they get and more.