The adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is said as an advice for those who tend to judge quality by appearance because humans tend to do the opposite. Most human beings do judge things by aesthetics, so they’re not to be seen as mere decoration but a substantial part of our world view. This applies to video games as well, although judging their appearances is not from a cover art or such, but how the actual game looks.
The graphics and interfaces catch gamers’ eyes all the time, including mine. I also am into how they sound—games are audio-visual experiences as much as they’re kinesthetic experiences. This piece is on six titles I really like because of how they look and/or sound; mostly for aesthetics. (Perhaps this entry is a bit weak and my point doesn’t come across as well as it should, but I do have a penchant for a certain look in games.)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Just look at this website. The design and even the font choices were originally inspired by Human Revolution’s aesthetics. I only got to play the game back in 2013 and totally loved it for its black and gold color scheme and interface design. Yes, I’m quite into the overcomplicated sci-fi computer look, although I’m starting to tone that back with recent changes to the theme here.
The music is also quite nice, certainly a whole lot better than that of Mankind Divided. Nowadays, I’m leaning more towards Mankind Divided’s cleaner and more contemporary look, which this website may gravitate towards in the near future, but the inspiration from Human Revolution’s look will remain.
It’s obvious enough that this is a pretty game. While it may have problems with running in more modern systems these days (I refuse to play it on console), I’ll always remember Mirror’s Edge for its clean aesthetics and use of color. If you click here to take a look at my upcoming project, you’ll see just how much this game has influenced my design sensibilities.
I’m playing Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst as of this writing, and I like it as well. However, its visuals are a bit more muddled due to the shift of its game design and there are certain things in its gameplay that I’m rather displeased with. Nonetheless, it has stayed mostly true to its predecessor.
There are plenty of games these days that share a bit of the look from this old iOS game, but I quite like this franchise’s overall aesthetics, atmosphere, fictional Romance-like language, and characters that look like cleaner versions of the Tenno in Warframe. The soundtrack is stuck in my head as well.
As for the gameplay, it’s not really something to get hung up on since it’s a mobile game. Maybe I should play more Dark Souls to get more of that feel, but that franchise is dirtier and a lot deeper than my brain can currently comprehend.
The over-the-shoulder POV and the inventory menu made me really like this game. The gameplay was a bonus, but the look and feel were what made me like that game. Whenever I play that game, even nowadays, it makes me want to play around with After Effects to attempt replicating those aesthetics.
This really is something I get off of, like cocaine but not illegal and is all in my Neuromancer-enhanced imagination. I dream of a future when mobile devices and augmented reality have that cool effect. Minus the necromorphs and the gratuitous dismemberment, of course.
Mass Effect 2
More on what I just said with Dead Space. Never mind the fact that it’s the best game in the trilogy (Fuck Mass Effect 3 because it ruined my life, no exaggeration.), Mass Effect 2’s aesthetics are what got me playing it in the first place many years ago. I finished it in a net cafe, and I still remember that time fondly.
I guess it looks dated these days, but I really dug it when it came out. It wasn’t just the graphics and the design of the ships and levels, but also how the interfaces look. Perhaps it’s a sterilized sci-fi bullshit, but it’s my kind of bullshit nonetheless.
I’ve always lamented my lack of brain capacity to fully grasp the gameplay of EVE Online. I played that game for a total of three months, after which I still didn’t get the gist of it. Perhaps that’s just because I’m a more singleplayer-focused sort of gamer and that game is not conducive for solo play; you have to join a corporation, interact with other players, and aim for a common goal in order to enjoy it.
But the interfaces and sci-fi aesthetics in EVE Online are quite cool; they have to be since it’s a spreadsheet game for the most part. Perhaps it’s the coolness factor of managing your own spaceships and resources that get to me, despite my inability to actually do those things. All I can really do is read those amazing and unbelievable stories that happen in EVE Online. There are tons of them on Reddit and beyond, and they’re just insane.
Assassin’s Creed Franchise
Ubisoft’s game design philosophy leaves much to be desired, but I quite like their visual design and aesthetics. Sure, the environmental design of their games are quite something, although not very memorable in the long run, but what I really like is how they design their interfaces. Even with the first Assassin’s Creed, that’s what stuck with me.
Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag in particular gets to me. It’s not just on how different the game is compared to the other Assassin’s Creed games thus far, but also the cool Abstergo parts with the office Animus workstations and so on. Am I weird to like those parts in particular in a video game?
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