The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Aesthetic


Nomination: Gonner

Breath of the Wild probably would take it for me; I’m actually lukewarm on Splatoon, which I love a lot of but sometimes find its vibe a bit… playgroundy? That sounds harsh but the presentation of Splatoon often belies how intense and also genuinely cool that game is.

Anyway, with both games nominated already, I’m going to give a nod to Gonner! It’s a cute little rogue like with a tonne of atmosphere. I absolutely suck at it, but even despite that I love it’s art style, its music, its sound design, everything about it.


I second ARMS

For me ARMS creates a sense of other worldliness and has an awesome vibe especially as more and more patches come in and the character of the games grows with it


Since Persona 5 already has a nom, I’ll go with Prey for it’s futuristic 70s vibe.


Nominating The Sexy Brutale

The name alone is already evocative of a macabre murder mystery. The casino mansion where the game takes place in (and takes its name from) breathes heavy with secrets. Shadows bend across marble and carpeted floors between shafts of light beaming through arched windows and keyholes as time passes. Its got literal caricatures for characters, all which have designs that toe the line between cheery and grotesque. Their masks vary wildly in style, from the classic Venetian to lucha libre to steampunk, yet this clash comes together anyway through the game’s cartoonish veneer. Its dynamic big band jazz swings to orchestral swells and back in time with the killings , and the clocks are always ticking.

also somebody nominate observer


I nearly forgot this game came out this year. It’s been a really long year, hasn’t it? I’ll throw a chip in ( :wink: ) for The Sexy Brutale to see it go through.


I’ve seen a few Night in the Woods shoutouts, but I don’t think the sentiment can be echoed enough. The game is its aesthetic, and a great one at that. The melancholy of returning to one’s hometown, the blending of lost childhood splendor and harsh realism as you climb your old treehouse in the woods, it’s all tied in with, and owes itself to the game’s aesthetic and art. Hopefully that didn’t sound needlessly pretentious!


Pyre for sure.


it might be because I’m in the middle of playing it currently, but Breath of the Wild is the game that has really captured my imagination from a visual and atmospheric standpoint this year. So it’ll get my vote.


Opus Magnum is a brand-new (October 2017) puzzle game in which you need to use rotating and extending pistons to manufacture an alchemical compound: this can be a hair gel, rat poison, explosives, virility potion… You are an arrogant young alchemist just graduated from school. You are seconded to an aristocratic house. As you solve puzzles, you slowly begin to unravel the politics both within the house and with other houses. You can simply solve a puzzle, or you can try to solve it with minimum area, minimum cycles, or minimum components. There are leaderboards for the last three.

Opus Magnum has haunting and evocative music, satisfying sounds when you put an object in place or run your creation, beautiful end products, and beautiful components. It’s even If you like assembly puzzles like SpaceChem or the freeware The Codex of Alchemical Engineering, you should definitely check this one out. Still in Early Release, but as far as I’ve seen, smooth and bug-free.


For me it has to be What Remains of Edith Finch. Few games have expressed so much emotion through such disparate experiences. From the joyful imaginings of a fish factory worker, to the slithering menace of something from the deep, or the decorative touches of a culture brought home. No other game made me wistful for experiences I have only read about, or seen in film. No other game made me nostalgic for the familial clutter of lives well read.

Empathetic, evocative, and artfully composed, What Remains of Edith Finch stands tall with the best aesthetic of 2017.


Persona 5 makes JRPG menus look visually stimulating and energetic. I can’t believe it. Seriously - what a style. Also, I was considering Cuphead being here but there are a couple of character designs in that lean too close to the problematic (to put it lightly) side of 30’s cartoons for me.


I know I can’t make a second nomination but since nobody else has brought it up and I think it totally deserves a spot on the shortlist, I’m going to make an unofficial case for Observer. Not bolding it so it’s clear that The Sexy Brutale is still my one nomination!

And by “making an unofficial case” I mean I’ll be doing what I did for AC: Origins in the big developer nomination topic and quote stuff from a Waypoint article. This time, it’s from the site’s #1 horror/cyberpunk video game fan danielle (she’s basically the perfect combination of austin and patrick’s tastes).

What we need is cyberpunk that takes us by the throat and shows us just how bad things can get.

You see a lot of bodies in Observer—mainly dead ones—mangled and thoroughly messed up. There’s a graphic allusion to a terrible disease and suicide very early on that sets the tone, and things only get worse from there. Those still among the living aren’t really doing much better: Everyone has cybernetic implants in various states of disrepair, and you learn from looking on computer terminals that many veterans have been cut off from the benefits that’d allow them to stay functional.

Observer also leverages 80s Cronenberg-style body horror, extrapolating just how bad an idea it could be to mix old and new flesh, especially with no regard for anything but corporate profit margins. Sometimes, you have to “hack” a person’s memory implant, and live through their entirely fucked up, glitched-out memories. These sequences draw on the team’s previous experience, with Layers of Fear (which consequently took a page from P.T.).

In one brain hack, I kept living through a former prisoner’s hellish, drug-addled experiences. I ran through the same rooms, heard the same screams. The same visual: an industrial shower head, dripping. Another had me wandering mazes in a corporate office so anonymous and hellish that it’d make Mr. Robot blush.

It’s feverish, nightmarish stuff, and packs a heavy punch.

Observer takes a lot of visual cues from Blade Runner (neon cityscapes, 80s computer screens, pigeons fluttering in the slums, rain everywhere), but mixed with this much darker, horror-tinged vision, it becomes something else, something far more powerful: Observer is an indictment of the techno-fetishism that movie inspired. Glittering cities are replaced with disgusting bathrooms, cyberpunk fashion swapped out for battered corpses and fucked-up cybernetics. Where pigeons fluttered above Blade Runner’s L.A. sprawl, dead pigeons fall through holes in the roofs Observer’s Krakow.

Kindly read the whole article because it’s great! I only quoted the stuff related to the aesthetics, but the rest of the article covers the themes that ties into our world’s shitty present.

also since this is the favorite aesthetic award, here are some sick-ass screens



The way the game’s alternative history is evident in its future works so well. And while a wood-paneled space station is already a great conceit, the way the game continues the 451-style world design is just so personally appealing to me. I will never tire of human-sized ducts, crawlspaces, and environmental storytelling slathered on my first-person games.


Since ARMS and The Sexy Brutale already got two I will nominate Old Man’s Journey. This game has a beautiful aesthetic that you want to get lost in which ties in beautifully with the game’s melancholy story. And since their is no dialogue or text it’s narrative is carried entirely by its aesthetic. Some really nice art to be seen.


I nominate Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. It just has everything I want, fantastic music, fantastic character design, fantastic locations. Most of all, the absolute best executions in the series, ever. I like the executions, not because I like to see characters die in interesting ways but because the executions highlight just how awful the whole situation is. And each execution knocks it out of the park, Just the right amount of over the top and horrifying.

Spoiler for Chapter 5 below

Special Mention to Kaito Momota and his failed execution because it was an awesome callback and actually beautiful? So awesome.

Also the UI is awesome as always, especially during the Sum-up and Scrum Debate. And the Scrum Debate Music is amazing as well.


Jesus christ it’s hexagonal SpaceChem Zachtronics you are going to kill me


I will second Opus Magnum.

Zachtronics always makes impressively designed puzzle games. Opus Magnum is still very much one of those, but with a refined style that previous releases have lacked. Solving his puzzles always results in a happy moment of satisfaction, but the aesthetics in this game elevate that to another level.

Friends sharing early solutions using their “Make a GIF” feature is what sold me on this game. Even inelegant solutions are hypnotic. Watching your creations in-game with the sound design of all the mechanical parts and the “ka-chunk” of the final products being dropped into place is perfection.

Two of my solutions for an early puzzle:


I nominate Absolver.

Screenshots of this game show off an atmospheric world with a soft pastel colour palette and beautiful hazy lighting. However, where Absolver really shines is in motion. The animation and sound design in this game are phenomenal. A perfectly timed dodge or parry rewards you with the sound of air rushing past you, and the moment you avoid the attack everything goes silent. It feels like time stops. The camera shifts ever so slightly to hi-light the near miss of your opponent, as well as your opportunity to riposte.

The simple visual style is both pretty and functional. It values clarity over detail, allowing you to focus on the animations. Light probing jabs look and sound light and quick, while powerful kicks look and sound brutal when they land.

It usually takes me a long time to learn a fighting game to the point where I can really feel the drama of a match in my gut. With Absolver I felt it almost instantly and it’s the games focused aesthetic that got me there so quickly.

Also you can collect cool fashion to dress up your kung fu person with and it looks cool as heck.


On top of the list for me I would agree and put Nier: Automata or Prey 2 on there, but since they have already been spoken for twice, I want to give my nomination to Horizon: Zero Dawn.
I think they did a fantastic job of realising this post-post apocalyptic world complete with impressively designed mechanical dinosaurs. It’s vast, it’s colourful, it’s densely detailed, and I think they bring a really interesting atmosphere and aesthetic to an otherwise near photorealistic AAA approach.

Please appreciate Danika’s photo-mode skills.


I’m honestly surprised that there’s no nomination for Super Mario Odyssey in here.

Nintendo always polishes Mario games to an incredible extent, but the worlds in this game are fantastic.
There’s the Cap Kingdom’s foggy black and white world broken up by the red of Mario himself and the green of the frogs; the artificial sky and mechanical caretakers of the Garden Kingdom; the metropolitan hustle and bustle of New Donk City (not to mention both the dark rainstorm and the festival in the same world); the intimidating Japanese take on Bowser’s Castle; the barren surface of the moon and even the glorious return of Peach’s Castle (complete with Mario 64 costume), Super Mario Odyssey nails a diverse visual world in a way I don’t think they’ve managed since 64 itself.
The music is also wonderful and supports the aesthetic, with each kingdom’s unique background music changing as the worlds change, including the 8-bit versions during the 2d segments.
On top of all that, those mustaches are glorious.