10 Video Games With Stunning Stylized Visuals

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Video games have been around for a very long time, and they’ve gone through hundreds iterations and evolutions. I have a fond appreciation for video games; I grew up playing old, 8-bit video games, as did a lot of people. Video games aren’t just meant for entertainment, they’re teaching tools and powerful motivators worthy of study and appreciation. Some games bring psychological and moral ethics into play, and they also can be appreciated purely from a visual design standpoint. Like most creative endeavors, video game conception begins with the bare bones — illustrations. Lately, we have been hit with wave after wave of hyperrealistic 3D graphics, so I find it very refreshing and exciting that there have been new video games that actually feature illustrated animated scenes. These illustrated animations are often known as motion graphics, and they carry an obvious influence from graphic novels, their paper-based bretheren. Check out these gorgeous illustrated scenes, and hopefully you’ll find yourself inspired to explore these titles further or even create an illustrated motion graphic yourself. To view the scenes in motion, click on each image.

DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online sticks to its DC comic book roots instead of abandoning them for the usual 3D sequences. The game showcases cutscenes that have been illustrated in comic book style and coupled with motion.

Deadlight

A mix of Limbo and The Walking Dead, this side-scrolling survival/horror game truly has a unique look highlighted by the heavily-illustrated cutscenes that give the game a raw and edgy look to it fitting for the horror game.

Infamous 2

The illustrated cutscenes in Infamous serve as perfect examples of how to execute a proper motion graphic. All of the illustrations were developed as a rough storyboard and then fleshed out in Photoshop before being taken into After Effects.

Starhawk

Gorgeously created, the illustrations in Starhawk aren’t done in comic book style like those from Infamous and DC Universe Online. Instead, the illustrations are animated in a way that make you feel like you’re watching a short animated film.

Dishonored

Not actually featured in the game, Psyop created three animated webisodes for Dishonored for promotional backstory purposes. Each frame was painted in Photoshop, with nearly 3,000 frames in total for the final project.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

If you are a Metal Gear Solid fan, you probably know about the graphic novel illustrated by Ashley Woods. He helped out with Peace Walker. The images are stark and comprised of brushstrokes coupled with comic book sound effects and even speech bubbles that come to life with motion.

Alice: Madness Returns

A personal favorite, Alice: Madness Returns features a style reminiscent of cut-out/pop-ups for the cutscenes. This technique is beautifully executed, even when illustrating gruesome happenings. Plus, it works wonderfully when you remember Alice in Wonderland as a children’s book.

Dragon Age II

Another favorite, Dragon Age II is a game that features non-comic book illustrations for its cutscenes. Instead, what you get is beautifully-created, color-rich illustrations used to narrate the events of the game.

Diablo III

Like Infamous, Dishonored, and other stylized games, Diablo III uses 2.5D animation models for its opening cinematic. The illustrations are coupled with depth and motion, and it’s truly amazing to watch these drawings come to life.

Darksiders II

Just like in the original Darksiders, Darksiders II continues using the illustrated opening. Unlike Alice: Madness Returns and Deadlight, Darksiders II uses heavy silhouettes along with negative space to create detail. Bonus For those of you who are interested in motion comic graphics and want learn more, check out this ‘Making of’ video for Infamous that takes you behind the scenes. What do you think of illustrated motion graphics and motion comic graphics? Do you have any favorite examples that use these techniques? Do you prefer hyperrealism or more of a stylistic, artful approach to video game narratives?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Video Games with Stunning Visuals

What makes a video game visually stunning?

A visually stunning video game is not just about high-definition graphics or realistic imagery. It’s about the overall aesthetic appeal, the art direction, the use of colors, lighting, and textures, and how these elements come together to create a unique and immersive gaming environment. It’s about how the visuals enhance the storytelling, evoke emotions, and engage players on a deeper level. Games like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Ori and the Blind Forest” are examples of visually stunning games that offer a unique and captivating visual experience.

How do stylized graphics contribute to a game’s visual appeal?

Stylized graphics can greatly enhance a game’s visual appeal by offering a unique and distinctive look and feel. They allow game developers to break away from realism and create their own unique visual language. This can result in games that are visually striking, memorable, and full of personality. Games like “Borderlands” and “Okami” are known for their stylized graphics that set them apart from other games in the market.

Can a game with simple graphics be visually stunning?

Absolutely. A game doesn’t need complex or high-definition graphics to be visually stunning. In fact, some of the most visually appealing games are those with simple, minimalist graphics. What matters is how the visuals are used to create an engaging and immersive gaming experience. Games like “Journey” and “Limbo” are examples of games with simple graphics that are nonetheless visually stunning.

How do visuals impact the overall gaming experience?

Visuals play a crucial role in the overall gaming experience. They set the tone and mood of the game, enhance the storytelling, and help create a sense of immersion. They can make the game world feel more believable and engaging, and can evoke a wide range of emotions in players. In games like “The Last of Us” and “Red Dead Redemption 2”, the visuals are a key part of the storytelling and contribute significantly to the overall gaming experience.

What are some examples of video games with stunning visuals?

There are many video games with stunning visuals, each offering a unique visual experience. Some examples include “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” with its detailed and immersive game world, “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” with its cinematic visuals, “Inside” with its atmospheric and minimalist visuals, and “Firewatch” with its vibrant and stylized visuals.

How do game developers create visually stunning games?

Creating visually stunning games involves a combination of art direction, graphic design, and technical expertise. Game developers use a variety of tools and techniques to create the visuals, including 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, and shading. They also need to consider how the visuals will interact with the gameplay and storytelling.

Can indie games be visually stunning?

Yes, indie games can be just as visually stunning as big-budget games. In fact, many indie games are known for their unique and innovative visuals. Games like “Cuphead” and “Hollow Knight” are examples of indie games with stunning visuals.

How important are visuals in video games?

While gameplay and storytelling are crucial elements of a video game, visuals are equally important. They can enhance the gameplay and storytelling, create a sense of immersion, and make the game more engaging and enjoyable. A game with stunning visuals can leave a lasting impression on players and elevate the gaming experience to a whole new level.

What is the future of visuals in video games?

The future of visuals in video games is very promising. With advancements in technology, we can expect to see more realistic and immersive visuals in future games. Virtual reality and augmented reality are also expected to play a big role in the future of game visuals, offering a more immersive and interactive gaming experience.

How can I find games with stunning visuals?

There are many ways to find games with stunning visuals. You can check out game reviews and recommendations online, visit gaming forums and communities, or explore game stores and platforms like Steam. You can also check out lists and articles like this one, which highlight some of the most visually stunning games available.

Gabrielle GoshaGabrielle Gosha
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Gabrielle is a creative type who specializes in graphic design, animation and photography.

graphic designimageryinspiration
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