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    Final Weapon Awards 2023 – Best Art Direction

    With 2023 coming to an end, it’s time for the 2023 Final Weapon Awards! There are a total of eight awards we will be giving out this year, which are the following: 

    This article will showcase each Final Weapon staff member’s pick for Best Art Direction, which recognizes a game that went above and beyond with art direction. With that, here are our picks for the Best Art Direction Award.

    Staff Best Art Direction Picks

    Andrew – Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising

    In a year filled with remarkable game releases, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising has the most impeccable art direction. For me, the visual presentation of a game is a crucial aspect, and this title truly excels in that regard. The Granblue Fantasy franchise has many diverse characters, each with unique outfits and designs. This diversity not only showcases the immense creativity of the development team but also keeps the game fresh and exciting. You will never know what visually stunning character you might encounter next. Moreover, the vibrant colors and stunning character costumes amplifies the gameplay experience. Finally, the game’s key art, primarily used in menus and arcade mode, are spectacular.

    Itch – Lies of P

    A screenshot of Lies of P from the Steam page.

    Games with an outstanding art direction can really amplify a great gameplay experience and make things all the more memorable. If I had to choose one game that left an impact on me with its art direction this year, it would be Lies of P. While it may seem quite derivative of other games and media, the execution is brilliant.

    A majority of the game’s environments are wonderful to explore thanks to this. While it would be nice if the game had some more complex levels, the environmental storytelling somewhat makes up for it. With the exception of a few later environments, it appears that a lot of thought went into designing the city of Krat.

    Furthermore, many enemies and most importantly, bosses, have unique designs that do not fail to intimidate. There are several fights I will not soon forget, and not just because I had to attempt them many times. 

    All of this makes for one of the most visually cohesive titles I have played all year. Very few things feel out of place and the art does an amazing job of making the game’s steampunk setting seem more tangible. It may not have the best graphics from a technical perspective, but that doesn’t mean Lies of P isn’t pure eye candy. 

    Noah – Super Mario Bros. Wonder

    Super Mario Bros Wonder Update 1.0.1 Now Live With Patch Notes

    Super Mario Bros. Wonder was exactly what Nintendo needed to do with the Super Mario Bros. series. A classic and refreshing take, Wonder has a gorgeous art style with vibrant colors that truly pop. The game is filled with fun and really did make me smile as I played through each of its levels. I had some of the most fun this year with Wonder, and I attribute a large part of that to its art direction and sprite animations. It’s the best 2D Mario since Super Mario World, and I hope Nintendo continues forward with each new 2D Mario title having a new and beautiful art style.

    Saras – Hi-Fi Rush

    Screenshot of Hi-Fi Rush Update

    One of the biggest surprises of the year, by far, is Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush. Not only is the game a master class in action games, not only does it create the type of game that people have been dreaming about for years (a rhythm based action game where every hit is timed to the beat), but it also looks utterly gorgeous. Most games nowadays have an art style that is dependent on the game looking realistic. Sometimes they’ll make create an anime-esque visual identity.

    However, Hi-Fi Rush manages to subvert expectations. It uses an artstyle inspired by not just classic comic books, but also classic Saturday Morning cartoons and old flash games. Even Jet Set Radio and other games with a celshaded art style seems to have had an impact on Hi-Fi Rush‘s art direction. The result is clear: the game looks utterly gorgeous. With the generation being filled with games that look eerily similar to reality, its refreshing to see a game that will still look good ten years down the line.

    Soul – ANONYMOUS;CODE

    ANONYMOUS;CODE plays like an manga brought to life, and MAGES. and Chiyomaru Studio ensured that interactive Science Adventure experience is maintained to the very end. The incredible artstyle of ANONYMOUS;CODE made me pause the game many times to check out visuals before moving onto the next piece of dialogue. In very important instances, ANONYMOUS;CODE will display scenes panel by panel with intense, adrenaline-pumping music to match. ANONYMOUS;CODE is incredibly consistent with its brilliant story, and it’s only possible through its amazing artwork and scenes.

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