End of Year 2018: Favorite Art Direction


Favorite Art Direction

Appearances are not everything, but the right combination of colors, shapes, placement and design can completely transform a set of mechanics. They turn simple stories into experiences and are the glue that help a game stick in your mind days later.

This category is a continuation of and expansion on last year’s Aesthetic category. It encompasses games who have impressive and detailed visuals but also encompasses games that indulge and succeed in experimentation. Games that know how to make a lot with a little, or have an attitude in their art that make them uniquely them stand toe to toe with processor destroying titans in this category. Think to yourself what looks the prettiest, what stands out the most, and choose that, for your favorite art direction.

Nomination Submissions

[click here for access to the submission form]

You will have until 5th January to nominate your games – this is our cut-off ahead of polling going live.

Remember: you can nominate up to three games, so be creative with your choices!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!


Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, head on over to our google form and write down your submissions in the appropriate field. You may nominate up to three games and you will be able to edit this submission at any time by returning to the google form (before the nomination date closes).

As the nominations will be done externally, this thread will instead be the place to discuss what your favorites were and to make the case for them if you feel strongly. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end January 5th, 2019.

Q: What games can I nominate?

A: For this category, we’re specifically looking for games that were released between 10th December 2017 - 15th December 2018.

Games that either entered Early Access or hit 1.0 during this period are eligible.

Ports, remakes, and remasters are not eligible.

Standalone games/expansions are eligible, however Downloadable Content (DLC) is not.

Mobile and browser games are eligible as long as they meet all other relevant criteria.

The moderation team reserves the right to remove any game from nomination if necessary.

  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!

End of Year 2018: Vote for your favs!
End of Year 2018: Waypoint Community's Favorites

GRIS is my pick, without a doubt. I mean:



It’s astoundingly gorgeous, and honestly after just a couple hours playing last night I already knew it was the best looking thing I’ve experienced this year. Just achingly beautiful and somber.


Big Burly shoutout to my boy Chuchel and it’s wonderful surrealist French cartoon aesthetic


My three nominations:

Dragon Ball Fighterz

Now I’m not saying that Akira Toriyama’s 90’s anime is the height of art, but Arc System Works did everything they could to be faithful to the source material when making this game. And that includes not only going to great detail to capture the look of the show while still using 3D models, but also captures what the show made you FEEL when you were 10 years old getting hype for Goku finally going Super Saiyan.

Monster Hunter World

Okay, here’s the part where I confess I haven’t played a lot of games this year. And although I know there are a lot more than three other games I like the art direction more than MHW, the only one I ended up actually playing was DBFZ.

That being said Monster Hunter World definitely impressed me. For a series that prioritized monster animations over, really, anything when it comes to art, MHW manages to continuously awe the player with breathtaking locales, monsters that feel almost lifelike, superb lighting, and effects that make any battle impressive.

Tetris Effect

I could (and have!) stare at any game Tetsuya Mizuguchi makes for hours.


Dragon Ball Fighters Z is just outrageously achieved. When I first saw it in the motion I straight up didn’t believe it was possible.


Gris is so goddamn gorgeous.


Return of the Obra Dinn sure looks gorgeuous, with its art resembling what you can find in old adventure books and the dithered 1-bit look adding a unique take on how digital graphics can be presented.

Now, having a unique look is good by itself, but it was when I watched this video on how the big reference drawing of all actors was created that it finally clicked with me just why it works so well in this story. This snapshot of (reasonably) detailed characters is turned into the blurry mess that you spend so much time peering at in the game, trying to work out who is who.

But from my layman’s experience with history, is this not an unavoidable part of trying to work out past events? As stories are told and retold details are lost or added, leaving an incomplete document of the past that has to be restored by understanding and analyzing the context of events and who are telling them, not simply reading the surviving copy. For the Obra Dinn, the hard-to-parse art style effectively recreates this effect in a visual way, reminding us that we are looking at the past from a distance and how this limits our ways to understand it.

I say this knowing that Lucas Pope by admission began with the cool art style and later figured out what he wanted to do with it, so this may all be incidental. But for me, what does it matter?

The big runner up to me is Florence, which tells its story almost entirely through clever use of its artwork and a couple of simple mechanics. It’s beautiful and works extremely well.


Frostpunk. Maybe a Victorian/steampunk-ish aesthetic is a tad overdone at this point, but this one was presented with such gleaming polish that I enjoyed booting it up just to look at it as much as anything else. I’m also a sucker for games set in snowy or wintery conditions and the entire art direction of this game nails the central idea of being under siege by the cold. The way your screen freezes up or thaws out as the temperature changes; the wonderful particle-effect snow; and all of the tiny details from footprints in the snow and wispy smoke to the beautifully drawn exploration event illustrations. The menus & UI tie it all together in a nice way.

I think Into the Breach is also worth a nomination here. They managed to capture a sense of weight & importance of mechs and monsters while simultaneously making you feel like you’re playing with toys on a game board. Just loved everything from the art style itself to the beautiful yet simple UI. Great work.

Finally, because I didn’t get a chance to nominate prior entries, I’m going to have to nominate The Banner Saga 3 as much as a placeholder for the entire series as anything.


GRIS is unfairly beautiful. It wins by a mile.


Just an update on the Chuchel story (so to speak); Amanita Design have decided to change the design following community feedback:


Hey folks!

With the deadline for phase 1 fast approaching we wanted to remind everyone to get their nominations in if they haven’t already. The google forms will stop taking submissions by 10pm GMT (2pm PST / 5pm EST) on Saturday.

That said, these threads will remain open so that people can continue to share their thoughts on specific categories/games for the remainder of the event. We hope you’ve enjoyed the event thus far and we’re excited to unveil the the voting phase over the weekend!


I think Return of the Obra Dinn is my favorite, but I also really enjoyed A Case of Distrust’s style:

Just haven’t seen much like it before.