I’d second Breath of the Wild.
Having the proper aesthetic was essential for this game to be accepted as a Zelda sequel, and they pulled it off.
The fact that it’s an open world game and how much polish and time it must have took to achieve this is mind boggling.
I’d second Breath of the Wild.
The Lion’s Song
I can’t express how in love with this game’s style I am
Nomination: Splatoon 2
Well, with Persona 5, Cuphead, and Breath of the Wild already getting two votes, I guess I’m going for my 4th pick.
Look, I know that Splatoon 2 is a very by-the-numbers sequel to Splatoon that Nintendo doesn’t usually make, which means the visuals aren’t especially anything new, but the jump to the Switch allowed everything to just be more refined, more polished, to just ooze more style than the original did.
And that’s no easy feat.
i’m gonna go ahead and second Hollow Knight! while i haven’t had the chance to play this game yet, everything about it is gorgeous and cohesive, and also i just really love bugs so i have a huge bias there. the soundtrack also does a lot to set the mood.
i did play persona 5 and loved that game’s look & sound, but enough people have nominated that already
Pyre for sure. It’s got a great look that manages to be neither too cartoony nor too dark and dosn’t punch down in the way a lot of other things this year did
I’ve issues with the game and I haven’t finished it yet but it’s look is amazing.
A big part of my extreme excitement leading up to the release of Persona 5 was its visual aesthetic. It promised not only to continue the personal, character-driven storytelling of its predecessors, but it was sporting this vibrant, lively new aesthetic that held strong to its rebellious theme. The final game absolutely delivered on the aesthetic promise through and through, and it just visually never ever got old over its 100 hour runtime for me.
There a ton of choices this year and I want to shout out to Monument Valley 2 and Splatoon 2. In particular though, Splatoon’s aesthetic has been a favorite of mine since it combines that Shibuya fashion scene with accents of Hip Hop culture. What ties the two greatly though is a semi-relatable pseudo language.
The reason I’m picking ARMS as my nomination is because it uses the lessons learned from Splatoon and tries it on a more world-wide scale.
The look of the characters and stages are very much larger then life, allowing for something that reminds me of F-Zero’s concept of having these massive tournaments exist in in the streets as well in large seating stadiums. It’s a world that seems to be lived in with flaws, but also celebrated for these characters who put on a fantastic show. Everyone seems to be encouraged to be colourful and weird, even if they’re ment to be slightly off-putting like Master Mummy or Helix.
Battle Chef Brigade
This year I have been mostly a Switch player, and there have been a heck of a lot of games that have had either great soundtracks, or a neat look, or interesting controls. But after only a few days, I think BCB has topped the lot. It manages to create an environment where killing monsters and the cooking them seem, well, viable? Through the conversations the characters have, to the art design, all of it combines to make me go “yeah, sure, this all seems like an everyday thing for this world”. It’s bonkers, yet somehow I am already really comfortable with the world it creates. It really shouldn’t work, it should be too over the top, and yet it isn’t.
No idea how they did it.
Just so I understand, would something like ESO: Clockwork City be eligable?
I would say so, because an MMO is a constantly evolving game. Like, World of Warcraft, for example when talking about aesthetics, looks a helluva lot better now than it did in 2003.
While not perfect, Blue Reflection is quite unique, is visuals evoke very well the shoujo and specially the majou shoujo aesthetics.
If it is eligible with its PC release this year: Rez Infinite
This has to be my pick for both aesthetic and audio experience, because these two categories were made for this game. Still looks amazing, even more so on a PC. The overall aesthetic is unmatched, in my opinion. It is just so beautiful and frightening and mesmerizing.
I want to nominate Cuphead Not only because it looks amazing and unique but I feel the developers went the extra mile to also make the animation to be so accurate with the source material. It feels not just like a game with graphics from 1930s cartoon but an actual 1930s cartoon that you can play.
I would like to nominate Haque. It’s a modern roguelike developed by Super-Try games. Game’s got styyyyyyyyle.
Gonna drop a nomination for Persona 5.
It’s a game that I feel had some failings due to some character/narrative hiccups, and due to some slow sections, but one thing that kept the whole thing feeling coherent was the look, how well it meshed with the audio, the use of colours, the sense of personality it all conveyed. Even a hundred hours in, navigating those beautifully animated screens and environments never felt old, and that’s quite something.
Going to throw an oddball and say Destiny 2 in here. Every time I boot up a new environment, or see someone’s sweet screenshots, I’m just captivated. I can’t vouch for Destiny’s novelty or balance other games here have, but the highlights are breathtaking.
The Shrouded Isle is a pretty humble game but the way it uses its colour with such restraint is fascinating. almost the entire game is in a two-tone palette, with 3 possible colour combination options. but the default turquoise/lime option is essentially perfect on its own. when seen in motion, in tandem with the atmosphere and content of the game, it gave me a sort of “haunted game boy/amiga” impression that really stuck with me
the game itself is essentially a really tight resource management strategy game, something along the lines of Long Live The Queen mixed with the politics parts from Crusader Kings. the mood of the game is sinister without showing its hand, and the tidbits of the overarching plot peppered throughout are tantalizing
it’s certainly one of those games where you get attached to the eyeless faces of characters with nothing more than a Virtue and a Vice and maybe a couple lines of dialogue to give them personality. the real narrative is the one you build inside your head, as you justify which member of your trusted council has to be sacrificed each week. the weekly sacrifice is one of the only times the game breaks the palette’s facade, and it does so to great effect. it can’t be done justice through screenshots.
it’s a very small game and i didn’t play it for more than a couple of hours but i don’t think anything else i’ve seen this year looked quite like it
edit: extremely big honourable mention to Hollow Knight, which looked and sounded so good it tricked me into buying it despite my active dislike of bugs! i will finish it eventually, with a lot of breaks in between
I second The Shrouded Isle
Nomination: Dream Daddy: A Daddy Dating Sim
So this isn’t my true answer, as I don’t want to aggravate myself by trying to decide between Persona 5 and Cuphead while also holding NitW in the back of my mind. However, Dream Daddy has a really nice style to it that I enjoyed quite a bit while playing. There are hot dads whose personal style show a great degree of variation, plus you can personally craft your daddy’s aesthetic. Plus everyone is just so… chill. Vinny Caravella mentioned on the Giant Beastcast that this game feels almost utopian, and I think that’s a great way to put it. It’s a good looking, easy-going game where no one is excluded. It’s vision of dating and other interpersonal relationships extremely appealing, and it looks good in its presentation.