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Following our previous article on the subject, we’d like to share some truly stunning examples of visual design in video games. Each one sports an amazing visual direction that both elevates the gameplay and makes it an unforgettable experience.
Released last year for iOS devices, Ustwo‘s puzzle game Monument Valley has turned a few heads since its release last year. Levels are ingeniously complex puzzle boxes, pieces sliding and spinning to create pathways for the main character to navigate. With a crisp, geometric art style, it’s easy to understand, but hard to master… and no less delightful to look at however well you do.
Arty platformer Journey is something of an indie darling: a stunningly beautiful, contemplative game recently rereleased on PS4. Much of the game’s story and setting is ambiguous: there is no spoken dialogue, or recognisable language. Alone in a vast desert, you must make your way towards a mountain in the distance. Along the way, you’ll wander desert ruins, forgotten cities… and glimpse in snatches a once great civilisation. It’s melancholy, but touches upon something wordless and almost spiritual as you make your way through each level.
Journey stands out for its sweeping vistas, sense of scale and isolation and the bold, simple iconography that permeates it. It’s also wonderfully creative, with mysterious creatures and varied, exotic locales. In thatgamecompany‘s third release, the journey really is the destination.
Xbox and PC exclusive Cuphead makes an impact thanks to its hand-drawn 1930s art style. We’ve seen hand-drawn graphics before, in titles like Metal Slug and Rayman Legends. But we’ve never really seen one that focuses on this era… or with animation as fluid as Cuphead‘s. It’s charming, sinister and hotly anticipated… which makes its 2016 release all the more annoying.
Cuphead and Mugman have made a deal with the Devil… and lost. To survive, they’re forced to do the Devil’s bidding… which, in the trailer, manifests as a range of wacky boss fights. Not much is known about the game at this point, but we do know it’s broadly speaking a run and gun platformer. It’ll also have a high difficulty level to accompany its gorgeous graphics.
Yoshi’s Woolly World
Mario’s sidekick embarks on another solo outing in Yoshi’s Woolly World, released this year for Nintendo’s Wii U. Yoshi has had starring roles in games since Super Mario World 2, released back in 1995, but while the Yoshi games have often had a cuddly, hand-made look, it’s never looked quite like this.
Developers Good-Feel actually used a similar concept for Wii platformer Kirby’s Epic Yarn back in 2010, with characters and levels made from yarn and cloth. Yoshi’s Woolly World takes the idea and puts it into 3D, really bringing the character and world to life. Yarn twists and unravels as Yoshi leaps about and defeats enemies, with thrown balls of yarn creating platforms and pathways for the Yoshis to traverse. Like some of the other games on this list, it’s not always the most challenging. But for younger players or those after some video game eye candy, it’s an ideal choice.
No Man’s Sky
Space travel’s romance has often been soured by the dangers it poses. In that light, No Man’s Sky should be praised for making outer space a little more inviting. A highly anticipated game for PC and PS4, No Man’s Sky casts you as an explorer trying to reach the centre of the galaxy.
With millions of procedurally generated planets and a shared databank called “the Atlas” players can add to, it’ll certainly absorb people from a gameplay perspective. From a design outlook, the game’s bold colour scheme immediately sets it apart, creating vivid and memorable alien worlds: it’s nice to see outer space painted in colours outside of black and blue. The product of British developer Hello Games, No Man’s Sky is a far cry from their Joe Danger game series… and a far cry from any other games on the horizon.
(Header image: Ustwo)