GM GOTY Awards 2023 – Best Aesthetic

The best game to use a style, a combination of artstyle and sound design, that makes it stand out from the beige of normality

The word choice here, aesthetic, derived from an old meme (the first award used to spell it as “a e s t h e t i c”). It’s an award category celebrating the bold artistic vision, expressed in visual or audio, or perhaps a meld of both, to realise a specific vision.

The spirit of this award category is to represent games that take on less realistic visuals. For 2023, this less of a hard line, as more big-budget AAA games have taken artistic liberties with its realistic 3D graphics. And they are worth celebrating in this award category as well.

Past Winners: Need For Speed Unbound, Psychonauts 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Hypnospace Outlaw, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Persona 5

Best Aesthetic Nominees

  • Ghostrunner 2
  • Hi-Fi Rush
  • Lies Of P
  • Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance Of The Slayer
  • Street Fighter 6

How The Winner Is Decided (Deliberations Summary)

Best Aesthetic continues the yearly tradition for the crew having to whittle down a long list of candidates into a selection of five. And they were plenty of arguments that support the inclusion of big-budget games with strong art direction over indie games utilising pixel art. The pixel art game is still strong among this year’s releases, but they just don’t captivate us as strongly this time around.

The shortlist we have come up with shows a spread of aesthetic choices, as this year, the big factor to win the award was “how committed the developers are to the bit”.

Lies Of P makes it here for its fresh depiction of a alternate Victorian aesthetic. Or rather, the belle epoch look. It’s not the most original, but we acknowledge how far the developers have gone to use its inspiration as a jumping point to make their own thing, rather than just be “this is Bloodborne at home (on PC)”.

Street Fighter 6 continues last year’s Best Aesthetic winner for that incorporates the visual flair of street art into its sort-of realistic graphics. The hip-hop infused soundtrack is strong, and we love how the characters may have realistic textures, but they are not necessarily realistically proportioned which gives the fighting game a standout look.

Ghostrunner 2, like Ghostrunner before it, continues to hold the fort for the cyberpunk aesthetic. Though unlike Cyberpunk 2077 which is more punk and grungy, Ghostrunner 2 has that sophisticated sheen to its synthwave, to it dark city drenched in neon lights and rain. It’s the modern social media’s interpretation of cyberpunk, which the sequel continues to do so well. Those brooding synths are killer.

The argument ended up with the arguing between two games, Slayers X and Hi-Fi Rush. Slayers X may look like… that, but the intentionality of it looking so shitty (as in, full of poop) with its crude cutscenes, laughably bad voice acting, early 2000s nu-metal delivered in crunchy fidelity. Doing all that, on purpose, to really capture that terrible late-’90s video game requires a strong understanding of what that era meant.

Meanwhile, Hi-Fi Rush takes on a Western comic book look, with cel-shading graphics, comic book panels for start-of-the-level briefing cutscenes, paired with music. It’s the musical aspects of the game that really amp it up a notch, as the environments are animated to the rhythm to further accentuate how much music plays a huge role in this rhythm-based character action game.

At the end of it all, it was a long deliberation, we consider the amount of effort required to bring these two different visions to life as the title-deciding factor. And with that, we have a clear winner.

Best Aesthetic Winner

Congratulations to Hi-Fi Rush for winning Best Aesthetic!

Check out the GM GOTY Awards 2023 hub for the rest of the categories and winners. The page will be updated as we announce the winners everyday until December 29

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept