Firewatch- Video Games As Art

Firewatch is a beautiful game, set in the Wyoming wilderness. As Henry, a newly appointed fire lookout, you wander around some gorgeously rendered woodland and solve an intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young boy.

At about 3 hours or so, the game isn’t long but I found myself just standing in some stunning landscape, taking in all the colours and hues. Living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where everything is beige, the colours on display really overwhelemd me and warmed me with their colourful glow. It’s a lovely game and has moments of pure beauty.

The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince- Video Games As Art

I recently finished a beautiful little puzzle-platforming game called The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. The game has a stunning storybook art style and tells the dark fairytale-like story of a wolf who loves to sing. Once night, whilst singing her voice attracts the attention of a Prince who tries to find out who the voice belongs to. The wolf, worried that the Prince would see her monstrous form, accidentally blinds the Prince. The Prince is found by his troops and, due to his blindness, is considered imperfect and thrown into jail. Feeling guilty, the wolf visits a witch and gives up her voice for the ability to transform into a Princess. Using her newfound ability, the wolf/Princess busts the Prince out of jail and takes him across various levels back to the witch so can restore his sight.

The tale is very Hans Christian Anderson or Brothers Grimm but the lush art style is all manga. The game is a bit floaty and not as tightly controlled as Limbo or Inside but for a 4 to 5 hour game it is a great experience. Check out the screenshots from my play through.

Wandersong- Video Games As Art

I’ve just finished Wandersong, a puzzle adventure game in which you play as a little Bard who solves puzzles and attempts to save the world through singing. He's a naively optimistic protagonist, a gaming trope for sure, but his ability to make friends with everyone and selflessly help them, even though it will take him away from his main task of saving the world, endears him close to my heart and makes him one of my favourite video game characters ever.

He does this all just to spread some kindness in a world that is destined to die. Wandersong affirms that anyone can make a positive difference in the world; you don't need to be a superhero to do that, just kind and thoughtful. In an oft-jaded world, Wandersong offers light in the darkness and shows that a gentle approach works just as well, often better, than a more heavy-handed approach.

This game is a joy to play and there are moments that will stick in my mind for a long time to come, not bad for a game coded by one man with music supplied by a team of just 2. You owe it to yourself, and the game makers, to play this wonderful video game. Check out the beautiful art below:

Uncharted 4- Video Games As Art

Many games have claimed to be like the movies but few can claim to be as proficient in the art of building a gaming experience that mimics the thrills of a blockbuster summer action movie than Naughty Dog. With the Uncharted series it has perfected the video game blockbuster. I only got onto the Uncharted bandwagon in the PS4 generation as last generation I had the Xbox 360 and Wii U. However, I am making up for lost time and after completing the first 3, moved onto the 4th and final (so they say) of the series. Out of all the Uncharted games it is the most movie-like and has twists and turns like the best Indiana Jones movie. I’m sad to be saying goodbye to Nathan Drake but do feel that after 4 games (not counting the portable one) it probably is time for the series to be put to pasture to age gracefully.

Uncharted 3: Video Games As Art

The words ‘cinematic’ and ‘epic’ are overused terms, often used to sell you on a game. By using these buzzwords the hope is that the hype will build and interest in the game will pique. Many games have claimed to be like the movies but few can claim to be as proficient in the art of building a gaming experience that mimics the thrills of a blockbuster summer action movie than Naughty Dog. With the Uncharted series it has perfected the video game blockbuster. I only got onto the Uncharted bandwagon in the PS4 generation as last generation I had the Xbox 360 and Wii U. However, I am making up for lost time and completed the first 3. Here’s to the 4th!

Shikhondo- Video Games As Art

I’ve always liked shoot ‘em ups… no, not first person gun games (although some are alright) but space ship shooting aliens. They've always held a special place in my heart as once the enemy patterns are learnt and memorised you can look like a boss completing a game. I have a vivid memory of playing Rtype at Heathrow airport and getting to level 3, that huge base ship.
Unfortunately over the last few years bullet hell games have taken over, I like them as I feel zen-like when I play them but they are not the same as traditional shoot 'em ups. Bullet hell games, especially the ones that have made their way West in the last few years on console including Deathsmile and Akai Katana have a place but they do feel stagnant compared to Dodonpachi and Ikaruga, the true exciting innovators of bullet hell. But generally bullet hell games have a different feel and mechanics and so it is with Shikhondo. The game looks pretty but is a bit of a soulless affair. Enjoy the images and grab the game when it’s on sale.

Lost In Harmony- Video Games As Art

We live in an interesting time in video gaming. We have the big hitters providing us with the spectacle and set-pieces but there are smaller developers who are trying unusual or experimental things. One of the latter is Lost in Harmony by Digixart, an endless runner and rhythm game but not…

Lost in Harmony is the story of a young boy name Kaito and his best friend, Aya, who is being treated for cancer. After texting Kaito falls off to sleep and the game comes into play in which you control the two skateboarding towards the screen in a variety of gradually more outlandish backgrounds, reflecting the fact that Aya may not make it.

The game is fine, nothing much to write about, but the music is sublime in places. Wyclef Jean produces a track ‘Lost in Time’ and it is a joy. Check out the game but definitely listen to the track!

SOMA- Video Games As Art

SOMA is a horror game by Frictional, the studio that brought us Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Penumbra, both staples of annoying YouTube screaming teen vids. However, rather than just offering jump scares, SOMA is a deep game about personal identity. “Soma” is Greek for “body”, and over the course of the game you consider what it means to be ‘human.’

The world of SOMA is beautifully realised and well worth a look. It reminded me of a more industrial Rapture, and that’s no bad thing.

Trine 2- Video Games As Art

Trine 2 is a sidescrolling game of action, puzzles and platforming. You play as one of the three heroes (a Knight, Magician and Thief) and make your way through fantastical worlds to restore peace to the land. What makes the game a joy to play is the ability to change characters on the fly; each of the characters possesses their own unique abilities and strengths, which you must use to overcome obstacles and progress through the lands.

The game looks gorgeous and the lighting is stunning, almost painterly in its airbrushed glory. Considering it is a 2012 game the art style still really holds up.

Valiant Hearts- Video Games As Art

Valiant Hearts is a puzzle adventure set in World War I. The game follows 4 different story plots and interconnect and weave in and out of each other to create a grand and affecting narrative about the horrors of war. What sets the game apart is not only the art style, which is admittedly amazing, but the fact that the game is densely packed with facts and trivia about the Great War. At 4 hours or so, the game doesn’t overstay its welcome but it will linger in your memory long after you put the controller down.

Kamiko- Video Games As Art

Kamiko is a top down action game in the vein of the original Legend of Zelda and Gauntlet. You can play as one of three divine maidens: Yamato has a giant sword, Uzume has a bow and arrow and Hinome has a dagger and shield combo. In the game you play through four levels which consist of easy to solve puzzles involving sliding blocks, buttons, orbs and keys. The game is download only on Nintendo Switch and is usually on sale for a few pounds but is well worth the hour or so play time, just to appreciate the beautiful pixel art graphics.

Gris- Video Games As Art

Gris is a stunningly beautiful game, probably one of the most gorgeous games I have ever played. The game is a puzzle-platformer set in an alternate reality where ancient ruins, fragile metalwork and iridescent woods are metaphors for the protagonists state of mind. The visual are like a huge canvas filled with dazzling details, that why there are so many images here as each could be a work of art in its own right. Check out and enjoy the images.

Moss- Video Games As Art

Moss is a VR action-adventure puzzle game, which takes all the classsic hallmarks of the genre and then gives it a VR twist by creating a world that seems vast and expansive but is actually little more than small dioramas.

In Polyarc’s words:

Quill is a young mouse who dreams of greatness beyond the confines of her sleepy community. When an ancient magic is awakened, she becomes linked with another - you, the player - who will take on their role in the story.

As a distant evil extends its reach, the two of you are called together to embark on an incredible journey brought to life with storybook-style narration that will draw you into a rich world of myth and magic. 

The game is short, at about 3 hours, but is a must play experience as the level of detail and creativity on show is stunning. The puzzles themselves are self-contained and pretty easy but the world draws you in. I can’t wait for the second chapter!