Game of the Year 2019 – Best Visual Design

Though there’s an awful lot that goes into making a video game, from gameplay design, to AI programming, sound, scriptwriting and way beyond. But games are also a hugely visual medium, and they can often stun players with their cutting edge graphics or a distinctive style that stands out from the crowd.

It’s a mixture of the two that make for this years winner of Best Visual Design.

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Remedy Entertainment have a well established track record of striking, impactful looking games. From the pioneering Max Payne with its Matrix-esque slow motion, to the stark horror lighting of Alan Wake and the blurring lines between TV and video game in Quantum Break, they’ve often been on the cutting edge.

Control is no different. Those playing on PC with Nvidia’s latest graphics cards are able to take one step into the future of gaming, with ray traced lighting throughout, but the game’s no slouch on console either, with outstanding use of light to create the game’s ominous and supernatural atmosphere.

The other side to that is the setting. The Oldest House is a testament to brutalist architecture that was popular in the 50s and 60s. Bare concrete formed into hard lines and geometric patterns that forgoes much of the ornate creativity of architecture that went before, it’s rarely found in video games, and combined with the sci fi, supernatural setting gives Control the most distinctive look of the year.

Control is our winner for Best Visual Design 2019.

Death Stranding – Runner Up

One of the first things Hideo Kojima did after setting up his independent studio and getting to work on Death Stranding was to tour the world and visit other developers that could provide him with a game engine capable of realising his eccentric vision. Settling on the Decima Engine that powers Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn, he already had a leg up on getting the very best out of the PlayStation 4.

The game simply looks fantastic. On the one hand you have the outstanding performance capture to insert Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen and countless other actors into the game, on the other there’s the gorgeous Icelandic feeling landscapes that you have to traverse, and then there’s all the wonderful weirdness of the stuggling post-apocalyptic future. Babies in bottles, the Odradek sensor attached to your unquestionably stylish hazmat suit, super cool 3D printed bikes… It all comes together exceptionally well.

Sayonara Wild Hearts – Runner Up

A short, sweet concept album turned video game, Sayonara Wild Hearts stands out visually as well as aurally. Its visual design manages to be both minimal and overwhelming, all at the same time. Neon lights streak by in dark city streets, before you find yourself fighting off a mechanical wolf in a shadowed forest. The dream-like state that Sayonara evokes is helped by the neon-lit twilight, half awake and half asleep, drawing you into the twitch-led action and its incredible soundtrack, and doubling down on its fantastical setting.

No matter what they’re doing, Simogo have created one of the most visually arresting games of the year.

– Dom L

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

  • Disco Elysium
  • Resident Evil 2
  • Observation

What was your personal favourite of the year? Let us know in the comments below, and make sure to stick with us through the rest of this month as we tick our categories off one by one.

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