Style over substance is a criticism that has been thrown about in every medium. Yet style all too often has the ability to enhance the substance in truly great works of art. It is the style that makes us give a double-take when we see a screenshot. It is style that shows a new way of approaching a tired genre. Style is more than just a filter that runs over a game’s artwork. It is the conscious approach of a developer for a novel way to present a world and the characters that live in it.
A game’s style can be heard in the score, seen in the character designs, and appreciated by novice and expert alike. Style is the fingerprint of a game and makes it unique amongst its peers. There were few categories more contentious than Best Style in the voting here at Lords of Gaming. In the end, though, it was easy to see why these three games are those we chose to honor with the Golden Lance for Best Style.
Winner: Ghost of Tsushima from Sucker Punch Productions
Ghost of Tsushima is a love letter to samurai cinema, feudal Japan, and the rise of the Ninja warrior to prominence. What sets Sucker Punch’s latest entry apart from other games that have attempted similar takes on the genre is an outstanding art style that pays homage to the source material.
The island of Tsushima is a complete character all onto itself. From the outstanding use of HDR to represent varied sunlight positioning on the island, to the wind currents that sweep cherry blossoms to your next manually suggested destination. This is a world that is fully alive with a complete personality of its own. With almost no waypoints provided, Ghost Of Tsushima boldly offers a sense of natural exploration I have never encountered in any other open-world game. Your natural curiosity as a player influences you to explore all the varied mountain peaks, forests, temples, and castles the world has to offer.
All of this attention to detail stems from Sucker Punch visiting the real island of Tsushima. From intimidating Mongol invader armor, the flavor of the straw hat Ronin, and the stealthy detail of ninjitsu based “Ghost armor”, the game screams 13th-century authenticity. Even the side quest storyboards of Legends you must hunt (and inevitably duel), are all done with a flair that is tastefully done. Sucker Punch has outdone themselves on art style here. It is with great pleasure we present Ghost Of Tsushima as the winner of Best Style at LOGNET.
Runner Up: Hades from Supergiant Games
Look at Zagreus. Just look at him! He looks so cool! Everything about the character designs oozes style. Supergiant games have flirted with ultra stylistic games in the past with Transistor and Bastion, but it is perfected in Hades. They take classic heroes of Greek myth and somehow keep the chiseled marble of classic sculptors while also imbuing it with a heavy metal vibe. The game is gorgeous. The cel-shading is unlike any other game on the market with the depth of its colour palette.
Every enemy is creatively designed such that you always know what is coming at you. The worlds of Tartarus, Asphodel, and Elysium all show a unique aspect of the underworld and convey the ideas of a deep slumber, a fiery punishment, and a beautiful reward in equal measure. The characters are instantly identifiable both from their visual design and the, quite frankly, exceptional voice acting. The Narrator in particular is exceptional though Hades, Dusa, and Meg all deserve call-outs as well. In my opinion, Hades has the best style of any game in the last five years, but alas, unlike the Underworld, this is a democracy. If you want best style, you can not go wrong with Hades.
Runner Up: Persona 5 Royal from Atlus
Like the previous 2 entries in this revered franchise, Persona 5 Royal, uses color to convey the theme. The game predominantly features red and black to convey a theme of rebellion. These colors are present in nearly every nook and cranny.
It is typical of games to regulate their post-battle screens as just a static screen. Persona 5 Royal betrays that standard. Instead, they opt for something with far more flourish punctuated with a head-nodding soundtrack. Likewise, the game’s menus differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. There is no other game that makes flipping through menus as dazzling as Persona does. Every transition between tabs in your main menu is met with some sort of animation from the protagonist who’s plastered in front of a graffiti-like red, white and black background. As soon as you open the menu, the protagonist throws his hand in front of you, almost presenting the different options before you.
Keeping up with series tradition, each character has their own, wholly unique and beautifully rendered designs. It was always a joy discovering a new party member, not just for gameplay purposes but visual ones as well. What would their new Phantom Thieves outfit look like? What is the design of their Persona? How does their All-Out attack and victory screen stack up? These questions rose whenever a new member joined and the answers were always well worth the wait and a feast for the eyes.
The art style permeates beyond the characters and is present in some of the most minute details. Loading screens will sometimes see Joker in black and white drop down from the ceiling, glance over to you, then woosh off out of sight bringing back the game as he leaves. Names of areas are brought up in black and white newspaper lettering, They then get crumbled and tossed away like a newspaper.
Just like its predecessor, every facet of Persona 5 Royal, oozes with glamour and a bold style that’s unrelenting, in your face, and immediately grabs your attention.