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Top 4 video game art styles showing you don’t need realism to look good

With so many games attempting to do their best at recreating reality with detailed like-like representations of human faces, and a natural environment, some developers have proven that having a unique art style that stands out can be just as graphically incredible as the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, or other top AAA games today.

The designers behind these titles often don’t get the praises they deserve — when more often than not an art style can make or break a game.


bioshock infinite 1
An advanced city among the clouds during the Progressive Era in the United States. (Bioshock Infinite)

Bioshock’s fantastic story meshes perfectly with the art deco style. The story of American-exceptionalism is told extraordinarily well, and the series stretches across two contrasting settings, but the developers at Irrational Games/2k Games are able to make it work very well.

With all games taking place back in the early-mid 1900s and Bioshock infinite being the earliest of all of them (1912) the style of both the art and the game strays from hyper-realistic graphics and instead goes for a re-envisioning of world designed in the 1940s-50s art style.

Rapture is one of the most iconic settings in all of gaming.
Rapture is one of the most iconic settings in all of gaming.

When the first Bioshock hit it was known immediately for its incredible graphics and visuals in Rapture, and after a relatively underwhleming second release the franchise came back as strong as it could in Columbia.

The two settings offer so much creativity to any designer with Rapute being an entire advanced city under water and Columbia, a city floating among the clouds.


Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts provides perfectly balanced emotional stories in a beautiful 2D comic book style.
Valiant Hearts provides perfectly balanced emotional stories in a beautiful 2D comic book style.

Valiant Hearts tells such a heart-felt story with deeper characters than many triple-A games, but with a 2D art style that looks a bit silly at first glance, but ends up being a very fitting contrast for how dark things could get at times.

The comic style is entirely hand drawn and matches well with no in-game dialogue. Speech and thought bubbles with simple pictures display to help the puzzle aspect of the game become a bit clearer.

The director of the game, Yoan Fanise, had spent 14 years with Ubisoft working on games like Beyond Good & Evil, Assassin’s Creed, King Kong, and Rayman Raving Rabbids. Valiant Hearts ranks on the same levels for him as it brings “the whole range of emotions that you feel in your life, from real sadness to really joyful moments.”



Borderlands alternates between a bland base environment and bold pops of color.
Borderlands alternates between a bland base environment and bold pops of color.

Borderlands is another game with a comic style, but the developers at 2k elected for a cel-shaded design to make a “flat” 3D world. The franchise offers an off-beat and crude humor that many other games simply don’t have. The open-world planet of Pandora is host to rundown encampments outside of the mineral mines, but also to other locations that display more environments.

Perhaps the best part of Borderlands’ creative direction is the variety of character models. With playable characters ranging from a hulking giant in Brick and a slender rogue in Lilith. And, of course, who can forget the fan favorite, Clap-trap? All those characters and their stand-out styles help Borderlands stand out from the rest.


Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead & The Wolf Among Us

Telltale Games' great success with The Walking Dead has led to even more great story-driven games from the developer.
Telltale Games’ great success with The Walking Dead has led to even more great story-driven games from the developer.

Over the last few years the Telltale Games’ art style has become one of the most immediately recognizable in the industry. Exaggerated contrast and thick character outlines approach gives both The Walking Dead games and The Wolf Among Us a unique look.

With both games originating as comic books, Telltale Games was able to evolve that medium into an interactive form while maintaining everything about the style of the IPs. Even the way the game plays combines extremely well with the way the story is illustrated. While Telltale has explored more variations of their art style in the Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands games the way their art style meshes with the comic books IPs is still superior to all else.

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Game of Thrones – Episode One “Iron from Ice” trailer released

Developed in the same vein of that of Telltales’ The Walking Dead games, the developer looks to transition another high-profile television series to the interactive experience of video games.

This first episode of Game of Thrones will be played as five members of House Forrester (both direct family members, and those in service to the house) and players will experience how each individual character perceives the events of the story as they unfold.

Taking place across Westeros and Esseo, players will take part in saving House Forrester from destruction.

For the long-time fans of the television series you’ll be happy to know that many of the characters and their cast members will again take on their role. Tyrion Lannister performed by Peter Dinklage, Cersei Lannister performed by Lena Heady, Margaery Tyrell performed by Natalie Dormer, and Ramsay Snow performed by Iwan Rheon will all appear throughout this first episode with more characters joining in the future.

Iron from Ice is coming soon to PC/Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and iOS.

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The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episode 4 “Amid the Ruins” Review

Episode 4: Amid the Ruins of Telltale's critically-acclaimed zombie series The Walking Dead walked onto platforms on July 22 (PS3, Vita,  PC) and July 23 (PC, Xbox 360).
Episode 4: Amid the Ruins of Telltale’s critically-acclaimed zombie series The Walking Dead walked onto platforms on July 22 (PS3, Vita, PC) and July 23 (PC, Xbox 360). Source:

There’s a storm coming

Point of no return: spoilers below!

The closing scene of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episode 4 “Amid the Ruins” summed up the group’s current situation: there’s a storm coming and Clementine and her group are not prepared.

After the events of last episode (“In Harm’s Way”), Clementine and the group are scattered after escaping the Carver community, with its leader dead (at the hands of Kenny) and a humungous zombie horde invading the compound.

But as the episode title suggests, the getaway plan-suggested by Jane- was not without its share of fatalities and losses to key characters.

Season 2 has honed in on loss as the key motif, just as Season 1 did around the fourth episode, when key characters were beginning to die . Clementine continues to grow more accustomed to making difficult, mature decisions for the good of the group, despite her being the youngest and having suffered more than any 11-year-old should for a lifetime.

Episode 4 gives you the options of either being ignorant and indifferent to the key issues of trusting certain members of the group (Jane, Kenny), or being a mediator between group differences, such as Bonnie not trusting Jane or Luke’s quarrel with Kenny, who he believes is unstable and volatile.

After escaping the horde, Clementine, Rebecca and Jane meet up with Bonnie and Mike at the rendezvous point, Parker’s Run; but Luke, Sarah, Carlos and Nick are no where to be found, with temperatures dropping, dusk approaching and food, water and shelter scarce.

Clementine is the only character that approaches each problem with a common-sense mentality, suggesting compromises instead of partisan solutions.

160349693But as hostilities rise when Sarah and Luke are found and reunited with the group, all characters begin to doubt other members of the group. Suspicions are high, especially for Kenny.

At first, Kenny blames Clementine for Sarita’s death (let’s be honest she was dead anyway). But Clementine is tasked with the responsibility of calming Kenny down and putting the broken man back together.

The way Clementine responds to Kenny’s hostility is evidence of her development as a character. In Season one, Clementine was a girl, good-natured and cognizant of the post-apocalyptic world but also fearful of it.

Age is no indication of wisdom

Now, in Season 2, Clementine has shown there that there is no longer  a difference between children and adults, a notion The Walking Dead television series has exhibited time and again. She has progressed past the fearful stage and demonstrated she is willing to do what is necessary to survive, something Lee urged her before his death.

When Jane and Clementine come across Nick hanging in a fence, reanimated, Clem can almost not bear to kill another one of her friends, but Jane convinces her that she is stronger than others and should not let others bring her down.

Working as a group, Jane and Clementine liberate Luke and Sarah from the mobile-home park, but Sarah is reluctant to go and it is up to you whether she lives and returns with you or she dies.

Upon returning, Rebecca is in pain and will be entering labor soon. Clementine convinces Kenny that she did all she could for Sarita and you cannot dwell on the dead but only live for the living. Kenny, still irate over Clementine, admires her courage and fortitude, remarking that she has the strength and will of “three adults put together”.

For a series that packs so much of an emotional punch, Episode 4 dropped many characters for almost no reason, either their role was no longer necessary, their death was unjustified or just plain unwanted. But Telltale has a proven track record of alleviating these worries, especially in big situations such as a finale.

The Season 1 finale was fantastic and more than made up for the penultimate episode.

Jane and Clementine really form a big sister-little sister bond in this episode that is cut short by episode’s end. We learn more of Jane’s past and the arduous emotional road she has traveled since the loss of her sister, a choice that Jane herself still questions.

But Clementine and Jane’s encounter with the mysterious Arvo reveal Jane as the cold, critical survivor (similar to Carol in the TV show) who wants to do whatever necessary to survive, willing to steal Arvo’s medicine and maybe even kill him. Clementine is the conscience of the moment and convinces Jane to do otherwise.

The fling between Luke and Jane was kinda weird, unnecessary and out of place but probably has something to do with Jane’s decision to depart the group, wishing to not become too attached.

After Kenny delivers the baby and Clem and the group ward off the zombies by destroying the deck, the baby appears to be dead. But the little baby is a survivor like the rest and miraculously clings to life, much to everyone’s surprise.

After Jane leaves and the group gets on the road to reach the adjacent town, hoping to find food and shelter, Rebecca is quickly losing strength, when the group is confronted by an unlikely stranger.

Arvo appears out of the falling snow and sets the group up for an ambush. This appeared rushed as the group just escaped a villainous faction in Carver.

Clem’s plea that they have a baby puts take Arvo by surprise and convinces him to quell the attempt on their capture but Rebecca wilts and dies and Clem has the hasty decision to gun her down as she reanimates or call for help, either way, the shot triggers the same result.

This was the first episode in the series that did not end with a teaser cut-scene for the next episode, only stating it is “coming soon”; but Episode 5 “No Going Back” is rumored to be dropping on September 23, according to the gaming site, Cyberland.

Only time will tell but I’m excited for the conclusion as Season 1’s end was able to bring me to tears – which is very difficult to do.

Check out the episode before the finale drops!

7.4 Satisfying

This episode focused strongly on character development and Clementine’s mature reaction to several conflicts, including more suffering and death. But the build-up to the finale is to be expected with a mediocre outing. “The night is darkest just before the dawn” – Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight (2008)