Gee whiz, 2021 brought us some visually stunning video games. As such, we wanted to highlight the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 titles that truly widened our eyes over the last 12 months.
Selected by the Push Square editorial team, these are our picks for the best overall art direction of 2021 — taking art style, animation, and graphical prowess into account.
Bronze Trophy: Persona 5 Strikers
Graphically, Persona 5 Strikers is a little rough around the edges, but there's simply no denying its sheer sense of style. Carrying on from the downright stunning Persona 5, this action RPG sequel is a packed with swagger. From the brilliantly executed menus to the eye-popping all-out attacks, Strikers is an often mesmerising game. Easily one of the most, er, striking titles of 2021.
You can read our full Persona 5 Strikers PS4 review here.
Silver Trophy: Resident Evil Village
Lavishly detailed and brimming with deliciously dark vibes, Resident Evil Village is a visual feast. In its character, creature, and environmental designs, it's real work of art from Capcom — and purely on a technical level, it's got to be one of the best looking games on the market. 'Memorable' is absolutely a word that we'd use to describe Village's art direction, because it really sticks in your mind when you're rounding every corner of Castle Dimitrescu in fear.
You can read our full Resident Evil Village PS5 review here.
Gold Trophy: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart one of the best looking games ever made? Many would gladly argue a case for it, and we certainly wouldn't shout them down. Insomniac's frankly awesome action platformer is a prime showcase of what the PS5 can do, boasting both visual and technical prowess on a near unprecedented level. The bottom line is that if you need a game that's sure to impress your friends and family, Rift Apart is the obvious choice.
You can read our full Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PS5 review here.
Platinum Trophy: Guilty Gear Strive
Guilty Gear Strive is a truly stunning game. Every aspect of this brawler's presentation is a joy to behold, from the brilliant character designs and their animations, to the gorgeous visual effects that accompany each and every blow. Arc System Works has been building up to Strive for years, perfecting its incredibly impressive visual tech with titles like Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2 and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Strive sets a new visual bar not just for fighting games, but for all anime-style titles going forward. An awesome achievement.
You can read our full Guilty Gear Strive PS5 review here.
- Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut
- Tales of Arise
- Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
- Death Stranding Director's Cut
- Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
- Death's Door
What PS5, PS4 game did you really enjoy looking at in 2021? Have your own say in our poll, and then explain your choice in the comments section below.
Wait, no Guardians of the Galaxy even in the poll???
That game's art direction (the different planets, the character design, etc) was incredible! A lesson for anyone trying to adapt a comic book into a 3D videogame.
Returnal had fantastic art direction.
So…have not played Persona 5…Ultimate edition Persona 5 currently on sale for $20 (or) Persona 5 Royal (or) wait for the free Persona 5 Strikers on PS+ next month? What is a good entry point for RPG fans?
@frankmcma Persona 5 Royal. It includes the base game plus more content. Strikers is a sequel so probably don’t play that first.
No Returnal? Not even an honourable mention? Good enough to win screenshot of the year though. And get second 😆😆
All the bonus story content of Royal including the new characters introduced in Royal is considered non-canon and therefore is never mentioned in Strikers (its complicated) so really either the original or Royal you can't go wrong with starting
Wahoo. Guilty Gear Strive won something in a Game of the Year category!
Such a superb game and whilst I realise fighting games are becoming more and more niche these days, I do recommend people wishlist it for sales or just take the plunge and buy it.
In my view, this is THE Playstation exclusive that Xbox doesn't have.
I'm surprised but not disappointed
I appriciate that a game with realistic graphics is on here. You guys realize that art style Vs graphics is a nonsensical discussion since they are twined with each other. so many people seem to think art direction means not a realistic art direction.
No mention of Kena: Bridge of Spirits? That had far and away the best art direction of the year imo. I'm genuinely shocked it isn't even an honorable mention.
I think the variety on this list proves just how spoiled we are with amazing looking games these days. Resident Evil Village looks just about as far from Guilty Gear Strive as you can get, but both games look incredible. Same with Ratchet (which might as well be a Pixar movie), and something like Disco Elysium (which features some stunning hand drawn portraits and artwork).
We live in impressive times!
@RBMango Kena is not even in their top 10 for goty, I legit think people forgot it came out this year or are just pretending it doesn't exist 😅
Not to bang the Returnal drum any more than it needs to be, but the art direction was fantastic. Each boss was a bullet hell bouquet of neon color and artistic design. I’d often die because I was just watching the dynamic light show in awe.
Ratchet and clank rift apart and kena bridge of spirit for the win.word up son
@RBMango really disgusting that kena has been swept under the carpet by push square and the community populating the forums..easily the best game i played this year..ok it was not the longest game but in terms of graphics,sound,story telling and the utterly jaw dropping art direction it drew me in like very few games ever have..amazing game and such a shame it wasnt supported more on here..
Tough category as I haven't played all of them, GoT is a 2020 game for me or that would have won hands down!
I'm starting to feel I don't understand what PushSquare mean by "art direction".
Here are at least 4 titles that should have been (IMO) on the top 5 :
Guardians of the Galaxy
Kena : Bridge of Spirits
These aren't even in the list for the poll... I mean, if we're taking "art style, animation, and graphical prowess" into account, how can these not even be mentioned?
Uhhh where's Psychonauts 2? An obvious choice.
i think some people are getting "art-style" confused with graphics .
any game voted thats not guilty gear is wrong .
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