The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Aesthetic

Favorite Aesthetic

Wow, I didn’t think they could pull it off, did you?

When you look at the field of 2017, which is the game that can’t help but command your attention? What game’s charm enchants you, whether by strength of concept or ingenious execution? Does it do a lot with a little or is it a beautifully expansive canvas? This is the category to discuss what spoke to you through look and sound together.

This isn’t ‘favourite visual design’. This is about the synthesis of a look, a style, a vision of a game. Visual design is a part of that, but sublime feedback can also be part of the aesthetic. If it weaves itself together in a way where nothing feels out of place, you know you’ve got a contender.

With that, the dance floor is yours! Dress your finest, make your case, listen to one another’s views, and, of course, be sure to bold the title of your nomination. I bid you adieu–we’ll review in the voting!


Q: Uhhh, sorry to ask, but... what are the GILM Awards?

A: Nothing to apologise for! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the awards here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, you have to write the game in your post and bold it, ideally at the top of your post. If we don’t know what you’re picking, we can’t count it. You get one (1) nomination. For a game to be eligible for the voting phase, it must have two nominations.

Nomination: (GAME)
(Rest of Post, full of lists and good takes)

You can make a list as long as your arm, just be clear chose. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision and discussion, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: I disagree with someone else's choice!

A: As per our Code of Conduct, be considerate about other people’s perspectives. There’s no need to puff out someone else’s candle to make yours a little brighter. Negativity is only going to hurt your case for what you love. What’s said in the thread stays in the thread. The mod team frown deeply on people taking disagreements thread-to-thread, like bringing up a user’s nomination in a previous category in a case against the present one.

Q: Someone already nominated the game(s) I wanted to twice, what do I do?

A: We still want to hear your thoughts! Be mindful of what has already been nominated, but as always, this topic is a conversation, so feel free to write about other nominated games.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end 12/10/2017.

Q: Can I nominate ports, re-releases, or remasters?

A: Generally, only games that saw their first release in 2017 are eligible. Full remakes may be eligible, but games like White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, which is a full remake of a game released in 2001 from 2015 that was ported to PC and PS4 this year, are still not eligible if they are ports. Expansions on existing games that stand alone, like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy or Dishonored: Death of the Outsider are eligible, but please consider these games on their own, separate from their full game companions. Please see the pinned topic for more information on eligibility criteria.

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I am all about the aesthetic of Pyre - the art design, the visual worldbuilding, the music, the bold colors, the animation style. The bones of titans on a blasted landscape, the graceful leap of a rakish masked dog over bewildered foes.

So good.


Nomination: Cuphead

I’ll be the one to start with the obvious and Cuphead. The old-timey cartoon aesthetic is so good and better yet, Cuphead nails the aesthetic completely, it just seems so authentic…


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It doesn’t run pretty in a lot of places, but damn if the aesthetic isn’t one of the core reasons this game works. They’ve created a world that you want to explore every inch of, regardless of the reward. Sometimes the reward just being some trees on a hill was enough for me. I can’t think of another game I’ve wanted to just purely SEE more of.


Night in the Woods
Everything about the aesthetic of this game is wonderful. The art is clean and unique and really conveys the reality of Rust Belt towns. I mean, even Tailor Swift stole some artwork from the game so it’s got to be good…


Nomination: Persona 5

Expectations for the first main-line Persona game since 2004 were high, and many fans were concerned when Atlus announced that the game would release on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 because of fears that the game’s visuals would be compromised. On release of the game, all fears were assuaged. Lead designer Naoya Maeda, along with artists Masayoshi Suto and Shigenori Soejima, commit heavily to a stylized aesthetic that makes use of bold colors, high contrast, dynamic diagonal lines, and minimal shading to create a visual language of the game that stands out. Characters all have distinctive looks, moving around a Palace feels both harrowing and effortlessly cool, animated cutscenes use an anime-like 2D art style that conveys the drama of the story, and even navigating menus is a treat. The Persona 5 art team iterates on the style of previous games in the series and pushes them to the next level to create a result that makes you wish you could frame and hang every moment of the animation.


Persona 5

I feel it would be wrong to not at least give Persona 5 a nomination here.
I think that game does better on the aesthetic side than it does on the gameplay/story/writing/etc. Everything else really.
A perfect title for this category.
The menus could win awards like this by themselves!


Seconding Pyre. Just incredible art direction all over that game.


Nier: Automata

The world in ruin, the too clean space station interior, the designs of both the stubby machines and the androids themselves. Nier’s visuals, coupled with a soundtrack that has the most emotional impact of any OST in games or film this year, melds into a complete aesthetic that is, in my opinion, Nier perfect.

There are moments in Nier where the combat (which hit exactly right for me) was moving so fast, and the music swelled and it hit me on an emotional level that I haven’t been able to match for the rest of the year.

The contrast between the androids visual design and the rest of the machines and the environment they were in was striking and as the game progressed it became more and more apparent that those contrasts were important to the narrative too. Overall it’s just such a well made thing. Sad androids was already pretty much my aesthetic before I played Nier. Now it definitely is.


And like Yoko Taro, “I Just Really Like Girls."


I’ve got to go with Pyre. It’s recognisable at a glance as a Supergiant game, but it has a playfulness to the animation and designs that keep its lore-heavy story from being dry or too serious.

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Persona 5
Those menus!

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Hopping on the Persona 5 wagon here

There’s a whole lot about that game that didn’t quite work for me, but I could look at it all day long.

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Given that this is the overall aesthetic category, I’m going to defer to NieR: Automata on this one for a few, specific reasons.

While the audio design of a game like Breath of the Wild is amazing, and the visual and soundtrack aesthetic of an experience like Pyre or Persona 5 is tough to beat in any given year, none of these games gave me the chills I felt from moments of plot/gameplay integration such as “THIS CANNOT CONTINUE” or “BECOME AS GODS,” the latter of which still haunts me every time I listen to the soundtrack (which, unlike most other games from this year, is almost a daily experience). The dynamic range of every track in NieR is stunning, starting from understated and serene and ending in bombastic - take the desert area, for example, in which the vocals come full force as you hit the climax of the area’s encounters. There’s also, of course, the fantastic use of chiptune filtering in later moments that adds a unique tension to combat and a fresh reframing of the overall world and experience.

There’s also the entire synthesis of aesthetics in the Ending [E] sequence that, for my money, is unparalleled in its use of simple aesthetic remixing to create maximum emotional impact. Oh, and there’s the design of the space station, with its subdued atmosphere. And the framing of weapons in terse descriptions, the design of wildlife and detritus and their intermingling, the concept of chipsets and menus as a navigation of UI, the framing of cutscenes, the constant use of voicework by characters and enemies alike…


Hollow Knight

almost every nomination that I’ve seen and agree with but should mention Hollow Knight in case people have forgotten about it.


I’ll throw a dark horse candidate out here and say Gravity Rush 2

Like people are saying with Automata, GR2’s aesthetic is a sum of its parts that permeates the mood of the entire game. It has a really strong sense of style for sure, great looking graphics, and a killer soundtrack. What makes it so aesthetically strong though is the consistency it has as an overall package. The design of the world flows into the surprising class-focused narrative. The ethereal places you visit flow into the whimsical nature of the characters around you. It all adds up to something unmistakable and totally original.

I find this differentiates from something like P5 which has super strong individual components that don’t always come together as a strong overall aesthetic. P5 has incredibly stylish UI. It also blunders too often in trying to go for a punk sensibility that seems too conservative at times. It just feels half committed sometimes, mostly through its narrative, to the message it wants to put forward. For something to be an aesthetic I feel like the commitment needs to be 100.


I have to give it to Prey. The station’s retro-future-wood-panel-80s-office-building-from-space-and-or-hell vibes put me in just the right mood to be paranoid of every weird shape I see in the dark hallway. The game has style for days and it conveys its world in an engrossing, terrifying manner.

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I’ve got to second Night in the Woods.

The art style is just so incredibly expressive, there isn’t a backdrop, animation, or character that isn’t an absolute delight just to have on screen.


Gravity Rush 2

No matter which environment in the game you are in Gravity Rush 2 feels incredibly expressive in a way that few other games are able to even get close. Bonus points on being able to do it in an open world.

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Persona 5. Jamiroquai anime Tokyo.

HM: the techno parts of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the character designs of NieR: Automata (from the central characters down to machines with stuff like makeup or suspenders painted on to them as they try to imitate whatever they can dig up from an extinct race), pretty much the entirety of Cuphead, and preemptively the stuff that I’ve been seeing out of the first Destiny 2 expansion.