Game of the Year 2020 – 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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A game’s visual design is more than just how pretty it looks. It is about using visuals can really immerse you in the world, creating eye catching reference points, adding to the impact of a story.

Ever since its reveal, Ghost of Tsushima caught people’s eyes with its design. While playing the game you can see how much care Sucker Punch has taken into making the world such a joy to explore. Landmarks in Tsushima, both big and small, capture your attention visually and entice you to wander off the path. Areas like The Golden Forest and the Field of the Equinox flower are jaw dropping in design. Similarly, Sucker Punch use the world to point you to your next goal, the wind blowing trees and the lush greenery of the island to help guide you.

Ghost of Tsushima really does have that cinematic visual feel to it, especially with the duels. Add in the Kurosawa filter that mimics the film techniques of the legendary director, giving Ghost of Tsushima a proper feel of classic Samurai cinema.

– Aran S

Runner Up – Astro’s Playroom

Though it’s bundled in with every single PlayStation 5, Astro’s Playroom is anything but a throwaway experience, as it ably showcases every aspect of the new console, from the DualSense controller’s startling new haptic effects and spatial audio (when you’re wearing some headphones), through to the graphical power and fancy new effects that the console can handle.

Astro’s Playroom looks fantastic, with a vibrant and colourful art style and a sprinkling of new visual effects from the PlayStation 5’s hardware ray tracing. ASOBI Team have taken the charming little bots that they first created for the PS4 Camera’s The Playroom demo to new heights, further building on the work done for Astro Bot Rescue Mission on PSVR. The most delightful thing about Astro’s Playroom, however, is how it’s also an ode to all things PlayStation, from the accurate recreations of every single console and accessory Sony have produced, to the adorable Bots playing dress up and acting out scenes from dozens of classic PlayStation games.

Runner Up – Hades

Beauty is only skin deep, but if that’s the truth, then the skin of Hades cavalcade of gorgeous demi-gods must be half a mile thick. Indie games often get to hone in on visual elements and designs where AAAs fear to tread, and in the case of Hades we were given a glorious rendition of the underworld, but it’s really the cast that have set the world (and its collective loins) aflame.

There’s always been an element of lust associated with video games that we choose not to look at, but Supergiant Games created such a strikingly attractive game – filled with perhaps the hottest cast this side of Street Fighter IV – that no one could refuse its charms. It was of course helpful that it was attached to one of the most emphatic examples of the roguelite, and in a genre that’s built on a seemingly never-ending loop, the consistent cycle of Grecian beauty means there’s never been a better reason to be bad at a game.

– Dom L

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

  • The Last of Us Part II
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps

To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!

Let us know which game’s visuals really stood out for you in 2020. Was is a AAA blockbuster? Or perhaps a smaller indie effort that wowed you the most?

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