Top 10 Most Beautiful Games
Top 10 Most Beautiful Games – Introduction
Sometimes it’s nice to take a few seconds away from shooting an alien in the head so that you can look at the newly blood-spattered landscape. Games are genuinely beautiful, either visually or thematically, sucking you into a whole new world of rich forests, craggy walkways or still oceans, far beyond the violence and gore that so often gets the focus in the mainstream media. Today we’re going to take a look at ten of the most beautiful titles in gaming history. They’re not in any particular order and there’s definitely things missing, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Dear Esther is a difficult title to pin down – should it be classed as a game at all? Whatever you want to label it, there’s no doubt that it’s obscure plot and Walking Simulator style gameplay have you exploring some absolutely stunning environment. You’d be hard pushed to find a more natural, realistic island in anything else, and it puts us somewhat in mind of a walk along the Welsh coast. Ironic considering the metaphorical nature of the game’s locales.
Shadow of the Colossus
Constantly labelled one of the most gorgeous games of all time, Shadow of the Colossus is an unbelievably well designed game. It’s strong use of light and of ancient ruins, as well as its empty, almost bleak world, combine to make something that not only is a joy to look at, but which leaves you thinking. Sure, falling thirty feet off a giant Colossi will get you swearing, but a bit of bad language is as far from beautiful as this game gets.
This place could have so easily gone to ICO, but Shadow of the Colossus took it one step further, developed on the original’s style.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry, as a franchise, has always been about beautiful visuals. Over the years, Ubisoft’s ability to show off how gorgeous tropical islands can be has just steadily improved, and Far Cry 3 is the absolute epitome of that. Lush green mixed with clear blue water and soft yellow sand… it’s enough to make the player fancy a vacation. The next entry in the franchise is set in a completely different setting, but we’re sure the warmth of Far Cry 3 will be a welcome alternative to the cold snow of Far Cry 4.
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption came out so long ago now that most people leave it off lists such as these. It was criminally underrepresented when people were talking about games of the generation at the end of last year. It’s also visually stunning, a true look at a small slice of American history, complete with dramatic landscapes and Wile E. Coyote approved cacti. Add in the plot based around a relic of an older time, and you have an interesting beautiful but poignant adventure.
Say what you want about the gameplay in Bioshock Infinite, complain about the ending all you want – it’s still a beautiful game. Columbia was so well built that your first look as you flew above it actually warranted the string of exploratory notes in the score, something that all too often feels underwhelming in many titles. The stark constrast between the beautiful blue skies and traditionally dressed citizens and their beliefs is one of the key themes in Bioshock Infinite, and makes Columbia almost as important a character as Booker or Elizabeth.
Talking of locations as character, one of the key things people will always mention about Flower is how beautiful the landscape is, and that’s hard to argue with. Flying over long overgrown grass, watching as the wind affects each blade of grass… it’s about as close to a visual masterpiece as the PSN has had so far, and that’s why it’s so often brought up.
This one gets bonus points if you’re playing on a decent PC and have mods enabled. Skyrim was always a fantastic looking game, especially in terms of the landscapes. Bulk it up with some fanmade content and you have a title that could easily sit alongside the titles coming out on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 right now. Not bad for a 3 year old game on an ancient engine.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni no Kuni was very stylized, but that just made the design pop. The cel-shaded colours and magical landscape, mixed with a young boy’s quest of discovery in a fantastical world, meant that everything felt fresh and new. Few titles manage to capture the innocence and love of a young person, although many try, and Ni no Kuni was one of the good ones.
If you remember when Crisis came out, you know why it’s on this list. Released around the same time as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Crisis is the primary reason why PC gamers managed to laud over the early titles released on those systems. It was stunningly beautiful and easily stands alongside many shooters released today. Improved, cheaper graphic cards means that it’s no longer the be all and end all of difficult-to-run PC games, but it’s still a looker, and it still deserves its place on this list, for history’s sake if nothing else.
Grand Theft Auto V
The final spot on our list could have easily gone to The Last of Us, but Grand Theft Auto V squeezes it out because of the occasional odd lighting and slowdown that revealed The Last of Us’s impact on the PS3 console. Grand Theft Auto V, on the other hand, was absolutely shocking. Rockstar managed to go above and beyond what was expected of them and, while there will definitely be improvements in the new-gen version releasing later this year, it’s hard to imagine a nicer looking game to round off the last generation.
Top 10 Most Beautiful Games – Conclusion
There’s plenty we’ve missed. Besides the titles mentioned above, we could have easily slipped in Journey, although its stylized design will only get nicer with time. The likes of Wind Waker HD and Xenoblade Chronicles probably deserved to make an appearance, but were kicked out by games with purer themes. There’s also a few action games missing, specifically Gears of War and Uncharted, although, again, they were pushed out for games with less “hide and seek” focused design.
So, rather than make this list any longer than it is, we’ll come back in a few months time with more beautiful games. Because it’s not about what’s nicer, but about enjoying the view you have.