This year’s E3, more so than any other, showcased a plethora of colorful video games. Everywhere you looked, there was a game that sported an eccentric, and visually extravagant art style that further helped the game look, and feel distinct. Suffice it to say, it seems developers have finally discovered color palettes that aren’t so callous – there was barely any gray, finally! Usually indies take visual risks, and really do interesting things with the tools that they have at their disposal. This year wasn’t any different.
Cuphead, which is being developed by two brothers who formed their own studio called Studio MDHR, was one of the highlights of E3 2015. Wonder why? The game looks like a breathing, and playable 1930s cartoon coupled with distinct mono sound, and nostalgic character designs. It seemed everyone wanted to get their hands on the game, and it was one of the best games on the show floor. Camp Santo’s first-person exploration game Firewatch is yet another indie game that simply looks stunning. It gives off a grand canyon, Wild West vibe with its heavy use of orange and yellow. The colors pop, and complement the narrative and gameplay mechanics.
But outside of indies, triple-A studios are also getting in on the artistic action. Besthesda’s Fallout 4 looks markedly different from Fallout 3. The latter game just always looked so bleak, depressing, and quite uninviting, and understandably so. Fallout is about exploring a post-apocalypse setting fresh off of a nuclear bomb going off. But Fallout 4’s Boston setting, from what was shown so far during Bethesda’s conference, looks as if it actually does contain sunshine! Who would’ve thought!
Though of course there’ll most certainly will be places to explore where the average person wouldn’t want to step foot in, but the game mostly looks brighter than anything Bethesda Game Studios has done so far. Sony’s Guerilla Games also revealed a new IP, titled Horizon: Zero Dawn that contains lush, green foliage, quirky enemy designs, and distinct character designs. Even though it is essentially a post-post apocalypse world, it still looks inviting due to just how visually pleasing it looks.
This artistic trend shouldn’t be surprising however, it’s actually quite expected. This console generation did not have the benefits that the last one did in terms of having a huge technological leap. The jump from PlayStation 2 and Xbox to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was a drastic change from experiencing games from SD to HD. That was a markedly huge difference that was easily spotted by the average consumer, and thus helping to justify them purchasing these new machines. This isn’t the same case now, as the differences are quite minor for most people.
The natural progression will, and currently is consisting of creating games with breathtaking artist directions. Developers have to wow people with just how zany, and eccentric their games can get. Something like Cuphead probably wouldn’t be able to run on Xbox 360, and it actually is an Xbox One console exclusive. That’s a game that will entice people to purchase a new console, and be once again enchanted by what these new machines can do. Photorealism, and the push for grittier looks should be, and actually is, fading away.
Nearly every game that was on the show floor – Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, Halo 5: Guardians, Star Wars Battlefront, Mirror’s Edge, Yarny, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Firewatch, Cuphead, Drawn to Death, etc. – all are just visually fun to look at. Actual art design seems to be finally taking over, and this not only allows for prettier games for people to play, but for said games to actually do something original, and refreshing. May it long continue.