A random list of gaming’s most artistically beautiful games

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

When it comes to the art style in games, there has been a lot of art designers that have really went all out to make their games look beautiful and unique. Below is a list of games that I’ve played that I found to be artistically beautiful in their appearances. I’m not claiming that this is the most comprehensive list, as it’s just a random one with no particular order. If you have your own favourites that aren’t included here, don’t forget about the comments box at the foot of the page.

Prince of Persia 2008 (Xbox 360, PS3)

There may have been a lot of controversy in regards to the simplified jumping and climbing, as well as the repetitive nature of the game, although the 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia is an undeniably gorgeous game. Ubisoft were said to take their inspiration from Street Fighter IV, and it can certainly be seen in the bright and bold characters. The overall look is vivid, the animations are fluid, and the major task of bringing light and colour back to the world is an amazing sight.

Okami (PS2, Wii)

Japanese watercolours and paper scrolls are the inspiration here. Okami is a true beauty of a game, which looks slightly muted in its appearance. The wolf Amaterasu runs along followed by a beautiful bloom of flowers, and restoring life to your surroundings is the sort of thing that makes you really appreciate that you can see. This is the type of thing I’d happily hang on my wall, as Okami is basically a moving painting.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC)

The Wind Waker boasts high quality, cartoon visuals. In fact, these are cartoon-like visuals of the highest quality. I can’t believe that there was so much controversy surrounding the look of the game when it was revealed at Space World 2001. The cel-shaded look was refreshing and charming, and the bright hues really make the world a welcoming place. Now Nintendo, where’s my cel-shaded Mario game?

The Saboteur (Xbox 360, PS3)

Pandemic Studios final game may have sunk without trace, although it definitely has wonderful art direction. The use of black and white and colour is a stunning combination in this World War II set open-world game. It’s a game that showcases how a certain look can signal something to you. Black and white signifies that the current area is very much controlled by the enemy for example, while colour indicates safer areas.

Limbo (Xbox 360, PS3)

Black and white and oppressive describes Limbo’s visuals in a nutshell. It certainly can’t be compared to the likes of The Wind Waker or Okami in terms of colourful beauty, although Limbo makes such a haunting statement with its rather depressing appearance that it is certainly artistically stunning. Limbo will send chills down many a spine with its spooky visuals, but they’re certainly amongst the most atmospheric.

Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360, PS3)

Street Fighter’s IV’s visuals are striking.  The large fighters may be built with polygons, although that doesn’t stop them having a hand-drawn like appearance. Their facial expressions are also highly exaggerated, and the game just has a level of charisma that many fighting games just cannot match. Lovely and colourful backgrounds, too.

Red Steel 2 (Wii)

There are not many cel-shaded FPS games on the market, but Red Steel 2 is one of them. The original Red Steel, a Wii launch title, was rather bland and characterless to the eye, but the sequel’s colourful art style is lovely. Red Steel 2 is bright and eye catching, and XIII, Ubisoft’s other cel-shaded shooter, does come to mind, only this looks even nicer.

Flower (PS3)

This is one of those games that gets the “are games art?” debate into full swing. Individual blades of vivid and green grass blowing in the wind, petals floating through the sky, and when you bring life back to open spaces, it’s almost enough to bring a tear to the eye. Flower is a beautiful game that is really striking to the eye. Games can be art.

And Yet It Moves (Wii)

The world of this puzzle game seems as if it’s crafted from paper, which is a nice touch and certainly makes the game look unique. It’s certainly one of the most artistically beautiful games to ever appear on Nintendo’s Wii.

ICO (PS2)

ICO’s soft colours and use of lighting is masterful, and it really sets the overall look apart from anything else. The character animations are also outstanding, and it’s a game that never tries to get into your face with its looks, remaining unassuming in its dulled colours, but never less than atmospheric. Both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are sure to look even better in the upcoming PS3 HD collection.

Braid (Xbox 360, PS3)

Pastel watercolours is seemingly what Jonathan Blow’s Braid was created with, such is its beautiful appearance. The backgrounds are effectively muted in colour and blurred, while the foreground is wonderfully colourful. It was with little surprise, then, that so many people fell in love with Braid’s top quality art design.

Odin Sphere (PS2)

Odin Sphere’s large and detailed character sprites are impressive, and are certainly amongst the best sprite-based visuals that I’ve ever seen. There’s a touch of slow down, but it’s a fair trade-off when it looks this good. It’s visuals like these that prove that sprites are still very welcome if they’re done right.

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Comments

  • Yi-Long

    Nice list... but ilomilo certainly deserves a mention as well. Just an amazing art-style which captured many hearts within the first seconds.

    Muramasa was nice as well. Still hoping for a HD XBLA/PSN port.

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  • Chris Wigham

    I actually played the trial of ilomilo and completely agree with you - it's got a lovely look to it. It definitely isn't the only game I have forgotten to include! In fact they just keep popping in my head. Madworld, Bastion etc etc etc.

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  • I know you mentioned ICO, but I also think Shadow of the Colossus deserves at least an honorable mention, if not a top spot on the list.

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  • Chris Wigham

    Lasse, I was definitely very much on the brink of including Shadow of the Colossus, although I decided on ICO in the end because it was Team ICO's first game to have this beautiful style. Also, ICO doesn't have as much slowdown as Shadow of the Colossus.

    Don't get me wrong though, Colossus is still a truly beautiful game 🙂

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