10 Video Games That Are True Works of Art

Here're some games to throw at your friends when they say that games aren't art.

Are video games art? This much-debated topic has plagued gaming journalism and the gaming community for years now. To answer that question, one must first answer another: what is art?

"the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power." - Google Dictionary

By that definition, video games should be considered art. Here's another excellent GameSkinny article on the subject, if you still need convincing. And on that note, here are 10 games that are, undoubtedly, works of art.

1. Journey

One of the most visually stunning games in existence, some people have even equated playing Journey to having a spiritual experience. Like some of the other titles in this article, Journey is a completely wordless game. The only way to communicate with any partners you're paired up with during your play through is with pinging noises and jumping, but somehow just having someone with you to experience the beautiful and nerve-wracking adventure is reassuring and comforting.

2. Darkest Dungeon

Perhaps a surprise entry on this list, Darkest Dungeon is a specific brand of beautiful. Suffice to say, this game wouldn't be as effective as it is without its disturbing monsters and moody lighting. Together with its punishing gameplay, Darkest Dungeon's ominous narrator and characters work to make a game that's both frustrating and impossible to put down.

3. Hyper Light Drifter

A dark and atmospheric post-apocalyptic adventure, Hyper Light Drifter merges beautiful visuals and somber electronic music to create a frightening world. This game is equal parts stunning and horrific, and is living proof that the two aren't mutually exclusive.

4. Super Mario Odyssey

Nintendo's newest Super Mario title is probably the most joyful game of the year. Each Kingdom is lovingly sculpted down to the smallest detail and is full of secrets and funny characters. The scenery is bright and colorful to reflect its lightheartedness, with plenty of difficult puzzles and platforming to keep you on your toes.

5. The Witness

This confounding and beautiful game has no story, no purpose, and no people. The Witness is a first person puzzle game with surprises around every corner, quite literally. It's a good thing the environment in this game is gorgeous, because you'll spend hours staring at it in wonder only to discover its hidden meaning in an epiphany that hits your brain not unlike an electric shock.

6. Bioshock

In a terrifying undersea city full of bloodthirsty drug addicts, Bioshock makes it very clear that you can't trust anyone unless they're a hacked robot. There's a kind of wonder and disappointment that comes while exploring Rapture that makes you wish you'd seen it in its prime. The dilapidated city is simultaneously beautiful, sad, and scary. 

7. Gone Home

Starting out, Gone Home seems like a typical scary game, with something terrifying ready to jump out a you from every shadow. As you go on however, this game reveals itself to be so much more. With beautiful writing and highly detailed environments, Gone Home is a sad and emotional story, told through its setting more than through its narration.

8. Okami

Based on traditional Japanese calligraphy, Okami's visual style is unique in the gaming world. The earthy, natural colors of the human world help the brighter, magical elements pop. Though other games have used a similar cell-shading technique, Okami captures the feeling of being in a storybook, recounting the tale of the Shinto goddess who saved the world from darkness. 

9. Katamari Damacy

Another bizarre series of games, Katamari Damacy combines a hilarious concept with a cartoony style to bring its world to life. This game is chock full of silly objects and colorful characters. Katamari is just fun to look at, and is a joyful experience that'll make you want to come back and play again after you're done.

10. SUPERHOT

This list would be incomplete without including at least one VR game, so here it is. SUPERHOT is a challenging, visually captivating fps that uses color to differentiate between important elements. Through various fourth-wall breaks and, of course, the use of VR, SUPERHOT makes the player feel like they're actually in the game. 

So... are video games art? 

Even with simple games, or joke games, art had to be created for it to exist. Textures, sprites, character models, and even coding are forms of art in themselves. It seems unlikely that when artists join forces to create something, the result of the project isn't art. 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Published Nov. 9th 2017

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