They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I couldn’t agree more.
Whilst some people are drooling of HD, hyper realistic explosions in modern first person shooters, I find beauty in the simpler graphics of more artistic games. So here’s a quick list of three games which I find absolutely beautiful:
- Child of Light
How could you not love those backdrops?
PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Wii U, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Extending beyond the basics of turn based RPGs, Child of Light is a beautiful game which follows the adventures of Princess Aurora. The tale begins in 1895 Austria, with Aurora falling into a deep sleep, her skin turning ice cold. Those around her believed she has passed, however, she eventually awakens; no longer in Austria, but rather the mythical world of Lumeria. Here Lumeria learns that for her to return to her home, she must defeat the Black Queen who has stolen the sun, moon and stars from Lumeria.
This game is captivating on many levels. The entire dialogue is expressed through rhyming poetry, which contrary to my initial beliefs, did not get tiresome.
Additionally, the plat-forming world, cut scenes and battles are all created with breathtaking water colour paintings, making you want to explore and take in every nook and cranny to absorb all the crafted details.
Turn based strategy with a twist. Attacks work on a time scale, where some abilities can quicken or slow the amount of time to attack.
Finally, the musical score throughout the game cannot be overstated. The depth to the soundtrack is achieved through the enlisting of an orchestra for the battle events, and the remaining music performed wonderfully by Cœur de Pirate on piano.
- Year Walk
iOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Year Walk is, at its roots, a point and click/ horror/ puzzle solver, however, unlike any I am sure you have played. You follow the story through the eyes of the protagonist who hopes to see a glimpse of the future by engaging in the Swedish tradition of “Årsgång”: Year Walk. What follows is a short but memorable adventure through snow covered forests, solving puzzles and uncovering morbid secrets of the woodlands.
Beautiful, yet ominous. The perfect blend of horror and charm.
This game is overflowing with atmosphere, whilst never coming off as cheesy or cliché. The visual world is comprised of parallax backgrounds, where movement is constrained to stepping left and right, only moving back and forwards at select locations.
Best played in the dark right before bed.
Additionally, your view is constantly kept looking directly forwards, allowing for scenes to be perfectly framed. There is limited background music throughout the game, however, when music is present, it perfectly builds an eerie sense of suspense.
Finally, this game executes puzzle mechanics wonderfully. You will definitely need a pen and paper to scrawl information down, but this just adds to the investment in the game. Nevertheless, some puzzles do come off cheap and I only solved by clicking absolutely everything on screen before randomly hitting what I needed, but these are few and far between.
- Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
Those who have passed before you.
iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS
Sword and Sworcery is an action-adventure come puzzle solver come point-and-click game. More than anything though, Sword and Sworcery is a work of art.
Labelled as an audio-visual experience, S&S follows the story of a Scythian warrior on her woeful journey to attain the mystical Megatome and rid the land of evil. Why this journey is particularly woeful isn’t fully clear from the start, but the longer you play and become invested, the more this little tale will reveal and pull on your heart strings.
Whilst the Scythian alone can only complete the burdensome task of ridding evil, she is supported by a wonderful cast. Whilst very little dialogue is expressed directly, their thoughts can be read in the Megatome, giving clues and supplying small amounts of humour.
As hinted by the name of this game, S&S is heavily influenced by music. The game itself is broken up into four short sessions, similar to that of a double EP, where the narrator of the game even advises to taking breaks between. Moreover, the world within the game is embedded with music, simply interacting with the environment (such as rustling trees or touching the saintly sylvan sprites) will even excite new sounds. Jim Guthrie’s score throughout is captivating and beautiful, and to this day, is the only sound track I have actively gone out and bought after playing a game.
Fighting the trigons. You’re only attacks are to swing your sword or time a block with your shield.
Sending the sprites skywards
The connection to music is evident even from the start screen
And lastly, just for a moment, stop and appreciate the art style. This has to be the most breathtaking pixel art I have ever seen. The wildlife is equally stunning, with pixelated deer and rabbit toing and froing between bushes and paths.