Game Of The Year 2015: Outstanding Art Direction

All too often, gamers seem to get hung up on the minutiae of a game’s graphics, with the rendering resolution and the frame rate latched onto, often as a way of discerning which console is better than another. It’s a point which all too often obscures the fantastic artwork and design which goes into so many games these days.

It’s only right that we try to recognise those efforts, whether it’s the wonderful yarn aesthetic from Yoshi’s Woolly World, the ink splattered vibrancy of Splatoon – it’s no coincidence that two Nintendo games made the shortlist here – or the stunningly authentic feel that photogrammetric techniques lent DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront.


If there’s one word with which to describe Ready at Dawn’s work in The Order: 1886, it’s ‘cinematic’. On the surface level, that’s aided by the letterboxed image, but this masks the technical masterpiece in other areas. Ready at Dawn’s own engine made use of state of the art physically-based rendering techniques, lighting effects, motion blur and comprehensive anti-aliasing which produces some of the most flawless imagery so far this generation.

However, there’s a lot more to a game’s art direction that its technical accomplishments, and The Order: 1886 features a world that blends reality with fantasy. The London setting within the game has a number of real world hallmarks and locations, but the fiction sees it blended with fairly subtle and very well realised anachronistic technologies. From the cobbled streets and period architecture to the realistic feeling uniforms of the knights and extraordinary weaponry, it all comes together into a cohesive whole.

The Order: 1886 might not be blessed with the longest of single player experiences, nor the most enthralling and satisfying blend of cover-based shooting and quick time events, but it’s one hell of a looker. Ready at Dawn and SCE Santa Monica Studios ably demonstrates what the PlayStation 4 is capable of and gives us a glimpse of how rapidly videogames are approaching the quality that can be demanded of modern TV and film.

Runners up in alphabetical order:

  • Splatoon
  • Star Wars Battlefront
  • Tearaway Unfolded
  • Yoshi’s Woolly World


  1. Well deserved, and I always think it’s hard for realistic looking games to win awards for art direction.

  2. Glad this got an award. Bit of a Marmite game, but I loved it.

  3. A deserving winner, I took over 700 screengrabs in my first playthrough – and that was before they added photo mode!

  4. My play-through of the game seemed to take about 10 hours, if not more – This was probably mainly down to me wondering around in awe of the environments. I remember standing outside a shop or cafe near the beginning reading a menu or pricing of food on a chalkboard. I was pretty much transported back in time – they did a great job.

  5. I’d understand it winning best graphics, but art-direction?

    The amount of post-processing effects like chromatic abberation actually strained my eyes and I had a hard time focusing.

    It deserves to be a runner up or something because of the well realised setting, though.

    • Art direction is independent of post-processing, that’s a graphical thing.

  6. I know they’re completely different games but I actually thought AC Syndicate captured the time period more accurately. The Order was set in an alternate version of history but it never really felt like I was in London. It could have been set anywhere. AC Syndicate did a much better job imo but The Order was still a gorgeous looking game.

    • As someone who lives in London and who has wandered around the city at 4am on a foggy Sunday morning, The Order is much more “London” than AC’s version.

      • Dear God! You deserve a bravery award for wandering around “That London” at those hours of the morning. Slaaags slagging, burglars burgling and a partridge in a pear tree :P

      • Tuffcub would be the predator at 4AM, not the prey.

      • In that case, once again in the words of freezebug – Dear God!

      • That’s just mean, but lol.

  7. I’ve got to say well deserved, pretty game. It’s just a shame it was a bit average in for a game, although still fairly enjoyable.

  8. Thoroughly deserved, was a marvelous visual experience.

  9. Registered just to comment, since I’ve just completed the game, and well deserved. This game gets a lot of hate because of its length, but it has certainly been one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played this year.

  10. Awesome looking game. This and Driveclub are the best graphics I have ever seen

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