Realistic Graphics or Unique Art Style?

Visual preference

Uncharted 4 screenshot 1
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a very good-looking game. Image Source: PlayStation Store

Every person that has played video games has said: “that looks really good”. This phrase is usually said when people see a trailer for an upcoming game or gameplay for a game that is coming out or has already been released. When people say that a game looks good, more often than not, they are talking about the visuals of a game.

When it comes to visuals in video games, it usually comes down to two categories; realistic and a unique art style. The recent trailer for Battlefield 5 is a visual delight, the graphics are so lifelike that it is close to uncanny valley. However, if you look at something like El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, that is also a visual splendor thanks to its unique art style.

Battlefield 5 screenshot 1
Graphically, Battlefield 5 looks phenomenal. Image Source: PlayStation Store

Graphics in games over time become dated but some stand the test of time because of their art style. PlayStation 1 games are fantastic and back in the 90’s, they looked great. One of my favourite games on the PS1, Tekken 3, looked amazing when I first played it in 1998. Looking back at the game now, visually, it has aged terribly. I still love the game and it is still fun to play today but, I can’t deny that the game is showing its age. Games that looked good graphically 10 – 15 years ago now look dated.

Law vs Jin Tekken 3 screen
Tekken 3 is one of my favourite games but it does look dated. Image Source: PSX Data Center

I look at something like El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron which released in 2011 and even though it came out 7 years ago, it still holds up well because of its art style. The game looks as great now as it did back then. This is thanks to the game’s wonderful and psychedelic art style.

el shaddai ascension of the metatron screenshot
The art style for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is one of the best I have ever seen in a video game. Image Source: PlayStation

When it comes to visual style, I don’t mind what the game looks like as long as its fun to play. If I had to choose between the two though, I would go for a unique art style. I love it when games go for a certain art style. A game might not only be memorable because of its gameplay and story but also because of how it looks. Good examples of these are El Shaddai, World of Final Fantasy, Ori and the Blind Forest and Superhot.

The contrast of white and red in Superhot is brilliant. Image Source: Official Superhot Website

I want to ask you all a question. Which do you prefer, realistic graphics or a unique art style?

You can answer this question in any way you like; by leaving a comment below, replying to this question with your own blog post or you can do a video response. It is entirely up to you.

If you do decide to do a blog post or a video response, don’t forget to leave a link to it in the comments below or send it to me on Twitter – @ThatGreenDude95

20 thoughts on “Realistic Graphics or Unique Art Style?

  1. Graphics to me are a bonus. I want gameplay and story and good ui before graphics. Mgs1 for example is amazing but the graphics are awful
    However uncharted 4 had some of the graphics ive ever seen but the game was awful.
    You need a good balance like bloodborne and horizon

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s a hard one realistic graphics can be stunning but unique art style can sometimes make a game what it is look at borderlands for example great game and you wouldn’t want the graphics any different but then look at final fantasy 15 the graphics are absolutely stunning so personally I think it’s give and take depending on how the game is in itself

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I definitely prefer something that goes for a more unique, artistic look rather than trying to recreate real life. For me the best indication of the difference is Wind Waker versus Twilight Princess in the Zelda series. People railed against Wind Waker during its time, but now it has aged gracefully and still looks beautiful. Conversely, people literally wept for joy at the Twilight Princess reveal, but these days the muddier colors and more realistic style don’t look good compared to modern games.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gamecube version of Wind Waker still holds up very well. Twilight Princess on the otherhand as you said looks muddy. Still a good game though.

      Art style can attract me to a game and sometimes I’m happy that it does. The art style for Valkyria Chronicles is wonderful and I ended up loving that game.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Both have their place and I think should be tied into the game as to which is best for a specific game. For instance Superhot, in my opinion, wouldn’t have been as interesting if it used realistic graphics. It’s style as a game and art style complement each other and work well together creating a fantastic experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Personally, the first thing I look at with a game is the gameplay, then story. Graphics are the least important aspect of a game in my opinion. However, which type of graphics I prefer depends on the game…

    If the game is grounded firmly in reality, dealing with real world events (e.g Battlefield 1), then I like the realistic art style. It fits the game. However, if the game is a bit more “adventurous” with setting, world, storyline, etc, then a unique and different art style can be the perfect icing on the cake.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gameplay and story are on the same level for me (depending on the game).

      I agree with you completely on visual style. Battlefield 1 with cartoony/ anime visuals wouldn’t look right. When it comes to JRPGs because as you said, of the adventurous aspect of the game and/ or genre, they could use many different art styles. El Shadddai: Ascension of the Metatron is on most memorable games I’ve ever played because of the game’s psychedelic art style.


  6. Very good post! It’s all about balance and knowing your audience. For example a game 2 art styles I like are from the Splinter Cell and Hitman Franchise. They both started out with their proper art style, quite similar to one another really, and are now a lot more realistic. I think the game aged well and the more realist visuals are plus. They different from other games, and even each other, using other characteristic like colour/brightness/contrast balance and unique special moves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚

      It is about balance and the line is a fine one. I think the realistic visuals help with the atmosphere of those games, especially with Splinter Cell (a series I haven’t played in years). Whenever I see a bright green, one of the first things I think of is Splinter Cell. The bright green light from Sam Fisher’s headgear is iconic and is part of Splinter Cell’s visual style and identity.

      You’ve made me want to play Splinter Cell again now. πŸ˜„


  7. That’s a tough one! I don’t think I have a preference. If the game has a great story with a visual style that works with it, I’m happy πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I prefer unique. People are moving away from the realistic. I don’t mean like the special effects which look very realistic. I mean the world game play – like call of duty moving away from ww2 and now have jet-packs. People are loving the games like Destiny, Halo and Fortnite. They like different worlds and ideas which offer different experiences. I am an art enthusiast and I see the same thing happening in this industry. Modern art is taking over the traditional and even more extreme imaginative art is making huge leaps and bounds.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t mind either style but I do lean more towards a unique art style. Look at Kingdom Hearts III, it’s using the Unreal Engine 4 which is used for making some of the most graphically impressive games. However, the work Square Enix have done to the game is phenomenal. Kingdom Hearts III is bright, colourful and vibrant and it stands out amongst the “realistic-looking” games.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s