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GOTY 18: Best Design

Games don't have to look pretty or sound great to be good, but sometimes it helps.

  • Text: GR Staff

Games entertain and move us, they can take us to strange places and show us new things, they teach us to learn new skills and think in different ways, and they introduce us to people both fictional and real. Games can do all these things and more, but the best games do all that with style. In this category, we want to celebrate the games that excel in terms of the way they're put together, whether that be in terms of the way they look or sound or feel. Here are the best-looking and most cohesive titles of 2018.

5. GRIS / Nomada Studio

We couldn't talk about design without mentioning GRIS, the stunning game from Nomada Studio that released this month and instantly found its way into the hearts of gamers due to its artistic style, especially its use of colours. As the titular Gris, you need to work your way through this monochromatic world to restore colour and life to it, in turn finding more abilities and making the world even more outstanding to look at.

Everything is meticulously hand-crafted but elegantly simple, making platforming easy and accessible while also showing you stuff that makes your mouth drop. The camera is also used to great effect, focusing narrowly down on the details as you interact with little creatures before panning out to make you a speck on the screen to emphasise just how small you are in this world. With incredible sound design too, we couldn't fail to mention it here.

4. Sea of Thieves / Rare

Sea of Thieves is marvellous fun if you've got a crew of piratical friends by your side, but beyond the online element, it's the little details that really make Rare's nautical adventure so pleasing to play. There are few games out there that are so immersive and tactile, that draw you in and ground you in their reality so effortlessly.

From the utterly brilliant water effects through to the quirky art style, Sea of Thieves looks utterly incredible, with incredible environments to explore and menacing enemies to discover. One might argue that the game wasn't varied enough, certainly around launch, and from a content perspective, there's a lot of truth to that. However, even at launch, the game was extremely cohesive, and everything connected together and worked with such pleasing harmony that it was hard not to be impressed.

3. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom / Level-5

If you say 'Studio Ghibli' it'll turn a lot of heads, and while Ghibli didn't return to help with the second Ni no Kuni game, their legacy remained in the art design of Revenant Kingdom, and if anything it looks even better as a whole because of the move to a newer generation of consoles. The bright and vibrant colours have more pop, everything runs a bit smoother, and it's just a visual treat in general.

Ni no Kuni II is way more than just a nice-looking sequel though, as all the systems interlink in interesting ways, with everything from side quests for civilians and RTS skirmishes feeding into how you build your kingdom, in turn affecting your research to help you in-game. It really feels like everything you do matters in some small way, and there are hours of content to get lost in here.