EGMR Awards 2015: Best Artistic Graphics
Some games are perfectly adequate, other are visually stunning and some are Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Then there are those that may not be the visually incredible but are visually striking. The game with a soul and character to them. Like an Alfa Romeo some work well, some don’t but they all make us feel something with their bespoke art style. This year we had plenty of those that held our eye for long enough to get distracted from all the visual powerhouses out there.
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Many gamers think that graphics in gaming is purely down to visual technology, but in the end it doesn’t matter how many polygons a game can push out or whether it has enough bloom to burn brighter than the sun. What we look for in this award is an experience that is either visually absorbing or artistically brilliant, and also technically excellent. The graphics should be seen as incredible because they portray what they intended to and capture the game’s vision. Whether the game in question opts for an artistic style, realistic simulation, a cinematic experience or lush, open and brightly coloured worlds, it comes down to how well the game managed to achieve the design it tried to, and of course how damn good it looks while doing so. The graphics of a game can also play an important role in immersion, and as such we look for vibrant, memorable visual experiences that are dynamic and exciting to look at. All in all, this award will be given to the game that achieved its vision and impressed us the most with its graphics.
Halo 5: Guardians
This one may strike you as odd but Halo’s world straddles that line between realism and artistic with an incredibly detailed but highly stylised aesthetic. Halo 5 is a beautiful game that combines great design with good use of effects to craft a properly sci-fi feel. On top of this it all runs smoother than lotion over Buffalo Bill’s body (both online and off). It’s truly a delight to shoot your way through the game and bask in its beauty in between shooting many, many things.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest initially caught our attention with its striking visuals and though there is far more that makes it great than merely surface appearances, we still found ourselves gawking. Not only are the environments wonderfully lush and vibrant but they’re varied and unique. It’s safe to say that a good chunk of the colour wheel was explored in making this game.
The static images in children’s books are often uninspired lumps of colour but some have this wonderful innocence about them with a simple aesthetic done in the style of watercolour painting. Beyond Eyes takes that simple beauty, puts it on a treadmill and delivers a subtly stunning aesthetic. The white background serves to enhance that feeling of moving through the pages of a storybook.
Evoland 2 wowed us with a great amount of visual diversity to match each successive transition from one game type to the next. All the while retaining its own character and infusing each signature style with a bit of Evoland flavour. The visuals complement the game’s genre-hopping core concept. Also, ninja squirrel sprites!
Dragon Ball XenoVerse
It looks like the motherflippin’ anime. That is the best compliment we can level at Dragon Ball Xenoverse. It is exploding with colour, loaded with excellent animations and brimming with character. The effects used for attacks, transformations and power-ups add to the authentic DBZ feel. This is most certainly a faithful recreation of the anime’s visual style.
It wasn’t Evoland 2, because as much as we were impressed by its variety of visual styles, we felt the game lacked a cohesive aesthetic language to permeate through the many visual styles. It was always going to be hard to pull off and unfortunately Evoland 2 didn’t quite stick the landing in this respect.
While Halo 5: Guardians is positively brimming with visual splendour, technically near-flawless in execution and could arguably have won in other years, it lacked one key element – soul. Something our winner had in heaps.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse, for all its effort, is still a little rough around the edges. It is undoubtedly a visual ballad to the anime but unforunately could have stood to benefit from a little more polish.
Beyond Eyes was a close contender for this award and was incredibly unique in its presentation. Ultimately though, one game edged it.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Ori and the Blind Forest is not just visually spectacular but vividly sticks in your mind. It oozes colour and yet is not garish by any means. It’s splendid and delightful and other civilised adjectives. You almost have to tear yourself away from it. It’s vibrant and varied environments are simply asking to be explored. Over and above all this looking at Ori is like looking at a fantastic painting, it’s evocative but not in an overpowering way. It makes you feel something and has a soul about it.