Art design is such a strong element within video games and this year we have a diverse group of nominees who have shown exceptional efforts in the field of animation and visual design. From modern stylings to colorful palettes, and even simplistic aesthetics – who will take home the crown?These are our nominees for the Best Art Direction in Games of 2019.
Click through the gallery above or scroll down the page for the full list!
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While Control features some stand out performances from its eclectic main cast, its biggest star by far is its superbly designed, amorphous ‘Oldest House’ setting. The deeper you progress through Control’s story, the more the ‘Oldest House’ transforms and re-calibrates around you.
It takes the mundane realism of its office environments – all polished concrete floors and post-it note-covered partitions – and transforming them into hallucinatory hallways and Escher-inspired expanses. This constant flux from the austere to the truly awesome makes the world of Control a consistently breathtaking sight to behold and explore.
Untitled Goose Game
There’s probably an alternate universe in which Untitled Goose Game’s titular waterfowl is a wacky, in-your-face anthropomorphic cartoon character who wears human clothes and has some gimmicky special ability and his favorite food is some kid-friendly snack, like pizza bagels or nachos. And there’s probably another universe where Untitled Goose Game is a half-baked PC game based on some flavor-of-the-week meme about geese, hurriedly assembled with pre-made assets in hopes of making a quick buck on Steam. There’s probably even a universe where Untitled Goose Game has a clever title.
Thankfully, in our universe, we got an Untitled Goose Game that has no title and looks like a beautiful children’s book brought to life, somewhere between a low-poly spin on Beatrix Potter and the work of a much less caffeinated Quentin Blake. If there’s any justice in our universe, the next industry-wide video game craze will be a deluge of simple, elegant games in which horrible animals make a real mess of things in public.
Disco Elysium is replete with stunning art that brings life to the city of Revachol and its varied cast of inhabitants.
From its remarkably detailed, painterly world where snow falls softly onto abandoned vehicles and crumbling, neglected architecture haunts the streets – to its grotesquely paintbrush-slashed character portraits that accompany each engaging conversation. It’s a beautifully realized depiction of a firmly ugly place, and one that you’ll quickly find yourself lost in.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara: Wild Hearts is a neon pink and blue-tinted daydream that doesn’t just go off the rails: it grinds them, leaps through time and space, does a pirouette, and sticks the landing on a motorcycle equipped with lasers. The most stunning visual element is how successfully Sayonara: Wild Hearts uses lighting and its distinctive color palette to tell its story and, simultaneously, direct the player. A glowing rainbow-colored speed boost on the center of the ground will draw your eye and have you moving over before you even notice the obstacles on your left and right.
Conversely, a brightly tinted and colored trolly sticks out as something to dodge when placed against the muted purple buildings in the background. Lighting and color pushes and pulls you through the space. It makes quick movement second nature while you take in some of the most stunning and creative visuals such as a pack of white mechanical wolves that forms deep in the forest. Sayonara: Wild Hearts is a visual feast.
Hideo Kojima’s games wouldn’t be the same without his longtime collaborator and character/mechanical designer Yoji Shinkawa, and seeing the two turned loose to create a brand new universe from the ground up was a delight. Death Stranding’s surreal take on post-apocalyptic America immediately made it stand out from every other video game wasteland out there (though bearing a striking resemblance to present-day real-life Iceland) and the look of its bizarre cast of characters all lived up the aesthetic expectations set by Metal Gear Solid’s rogues’ gallery.
In the same way that the Metal Gear series gave us a gorgeous blend of tacticool military tough guys and gals with slick anime mecha, Death Stranding showed us what a futuristic postal worker would look like if, in addition to rain, heat, and gloom of night, he also had to put up with time distortion storms, interdimensional phantasms, and the challenges of single-parenthood.
Those are our nominees for the Best Art direction games of 2019 – what are yours? Vote in our Player’s Choice awards below to name your choice!
Which games made your list of nominees that didn’t make ours? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out all of our other Game of the Year award nominees as well as our picks for the best movies, TV shows, comics, and anime of 2019!