The best game to use a style, a combination of art style and sound design, that makes it stand out from the beige of normality
Presentation. Tone. Vibe. Aesthetic. Something you see and hear when playing video games. This award category is a celebration of that.
As modern big-budget AAA games usually lean on realistic graphics and cinematic feels, expect to see more indie games to make it to the list as they more often than not express their style freely. Though they are not in any way excluded automatically.
Past Winners: Psychonauts 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Hypnospace Outlaw, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Persona 5
Best Aesthetic Nominees
- Chinatown Detective Agency
- Need For Speed Unbound
- OlliOlli World
How The Winner Is Decided (Deliberations Summary)
Link to the full podcast episode featuring the deliberations will be added soon
As per tradition, getting an arbitrary shortlist of 5 games to be nominated is an arduous, time-consuming process. Let alone deciding on a winner.
And “Best Aesthetic” is open to so many interpretations, so getting a consensus on this category will always be a long process. But it speaks to the breadth of aesthetic being portraying in the games of 2022. The usual pixel and voxel art look fantastic. There is one that’s so pleasing in the eyes and ears, and another that’s not-so pleasing in the eyes and ears on purpose. And one AAA game entry.
The pixel art in Chinatown Detective is impeccable (look at all the details in the background scenes!) and it’s great to have some local voiceovers to match the setting. Teardown’s voxel art is so crunchy when everything explodes and crumbles it’s so satisfying to see. The thriller-ish soundtrack is a great match for the heisting speedruns you mostly do in the main campaign.
If the criteria for the best winner was to be the best execution of a theme and aesthetic, the work done by Ebb Software easily takes it. But there was not enough support in the room that was comfortable with how overwhelming biomechanical horror can be, especially as portrayed in Scorn.
On the other end, OlliOlli World’s charming world and chill soundtrack, while done well, doesn’t illicit a strong enough reaction from the judging panel.
That leaves one game that we could agree on that looks sick and sticks to its landing, which was Need For Speed Unbound. Unbound goes bold by not strictly adhering to realism. Characters look like they are from some animation movie (but not an anime). Cars produce street art effects when they drift, jump, crash and escape the cops. The soundtrack is even bolder by going all-in on one genre, but features artists from around the world.
That popping art style and how adamant the game is at portraying the current street style in this street racing car game takes it home. It’s the one that went above and beyond, but not above and beyond our tastes of aesthetics.
Best Aesthetic Winner
Congratulations to Need For Speed Unbound for winning Best Aesthetic!
Check out the GM GOTY Awards 2022 hub for the rest of the categories and winners. The page will be updated as we announce the winners every day until December 31.