Here’s our rundown of the ten prettiest games released from January to June in 2015.
From Software’s Bloodborne is definitely a great-looking title, but is it pretty? Unless you’re seriously macabre or dangerously into Lovecraftian tales, Bloodborne is probably more attractive in a purely objective sense: “Yes, I appreciate the level of detail that’s gone into this… but I’m not sure I actually like looking at it, and in quite so much detail…”
9. Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight suffers from the same sort of subjective beauty issues as Bloodborne: It does look great and it’s a remarkable technical achievement to have a game so large that looks that dynamic, but Gotham is sometimes just a bit too moody. The rain effects while you’re tearing around in the Batmobile are ace, but would it kill them to have some nice weather in Gotham for once?
8. Alto’s Adventure
Something a bit lighter in tone here, and a well-deserved inclusion in our 10 best-looking games of 2015 for an indie mobile game, nestled in amongst the AAA heavyweights. Alto’s Adventure – the classiest endless runner you will ever see – is a simply stunning example of simple and understated beauty. More of this, please.
7. Dying Light
And now we’re back to grim and nasty. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Dying Light takes the idea of Dead Island – a freshly-occurred zombipocalypse survival game set in a beautiful tropical resort – and spreads it over an island city, where it’s clearly been going on for a while. Dying Light plays beautifully and looks stunningly beautiful too, until the sun goes down…
6. Life is Strange
Another slightly left-field inclusion in our 10 best-looking games of 2015 but it’s well worth sixth place. It might not be top of most people’s lists for technical achievement (and nobody’s screaming about it running flawless 1080p at sixty frames-per-second) but it captures a world – and a confusing stage of life – in a considered and sensitive way. Life is Strange sucks you into the world, and its understated aesthetic is key in achieving this.
5. The Order: 1886
Let the flaming commence. Yes, The Order: 1886 is an astonishingly alluring thing to behold, but then so are the popular kids at high school. You know the type. You admire their external beauty from afar and find yourself in constant awe, until the day comes when the fates finally push you together, and you realise they’re actually a vacuous airhead.
The external beauty is still there, but all of a sudden they don’t feel as pretty anymore, now you’ve gotten to know them. They’re tarnished, and so is The Order: 1886.
4. Project CARS
If you’ve released a AAA game about cars and it’s not making our list of the 10 best-looking games of 2015, then you’re doing something seriously wrong. The sorts of vehicles on offer in Project CARS are beautifully sculpted, they’re magpie-shiny, and they’re just so intrinsically appealing. Throw in some beautifully rendered vistas and you’ve got a perfect storm of true-to-life visuals.
3. Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
I had promised myself I wouldn’t mention Geralt’s dynamic beard growth. In itself the subject is a ludicrous indictment of the minutiae that the ‘gaming’ community will become hung up on, but give CD Projekt Red their dues: In an open world of that size and scale, if that’s the sort of effort they’re putting into facial hair? It’s no wonder Witcher 3: Wild Hunt turned out so damn pretty.
2. Ori and the Blind Forest
Yes, they may have had a few issues with frame rates and glitches on release but even so, Ori and the Blind Forest is a remarkable thing. I haven’t been so moved by the beauty of a game in a long time – never mind a 2D platformer – but Ori and the Blind Forest just proves that if you have a vision, and you execute it with loving care and affection, the results can be astounding.
1. GTA V (PC)
I desperately wanted to put Ori and the Blind Forest at number one in our list of the 10 best-looking games of 2015, but Rockstar Games had other ideas.
Grand Theft Auto V was already a pretty game on PS3/Xbox 360. Then it got some serious work done for PS4 and Xbox One. The PC version took an age to arrive, but when it did – combined with the ability to team it with ridiculously powerful hardware – the results are beyond words. Go and see GTA V running on PC Gamer’s Large Pixel Collider and you’ll see what I mean.
What do you think? Is there anything we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below, and join us again at the end of the year for the 10 best-looking games of 2015 (part 2).