Are you are a graphic designer or illustrator looking to enhance your artistic skills? If so, we have a great post lined up for you. I will highlight 15 Mobile and Console/PC games that have a very cool illustration style. I hope you find them inspiring as much as I do.

Arise - A Simple Story, is a gorgeous game with stunning environments, characters, lighting, and innovative game mechanics.

All the characters and objects in the game look like they are made of clay. This is achieved by the simplistic forms and shapes, and the realistic lighting effects.

Watch our review to learn more about what makes this game artistic:

You will learn more about design theory as we focus on these points.

  • Color contrast
  • Atmospheric perspective
  • Character and environment design
  • Value dynamics
  • Negative space
  • Dramatic lighting

Both the first game and its sequel are known for their amazing isometric level designs and artistic compositions. Each level is an artwork on its own, and the simple touch-based controls make players feel like they are interacting with real three dimensional objects.

It's rare for games to still look so stunning after almost ten years after their release, but thanks to its artistic visuals, Journey still manages to stand out. Similarly to Arise - A Simple Story, this game also has no narrative or spoken words, yet as a player, you can easily follow the story and stay engaged from beginning to end.

There are countless memorable frames from the game like this one. Even as a still image, it looks gorgeous, and takes your breath away while playing the game.

The game is full of visual references. One, clearly visible on this frame, is how the main character's design resembles the game's final goal; The Mountain.

Both of Playdead's games made it on this list as they are really unique. The Danish developer's first game, Limbo is a dark and unsettling platformer where danger is lurking on every corner. 

The dark atmosphere of the game has been created by its use of monochromatic color palette and the genius usage of light and dark. 

It's also worth mentioning that the image noise in the background and depth of field used throughout the game adds a lot to the overall visual style.

This Mobile game is a real visual treat and a meditative experience. It is the second installment in the series in which Alto and his Peruvian friends (including a llama) are sliding down endless slopes and jumping over canyons. 

In this game, you are sandboarding in deserts and oases while the weather and day cycles change from peaceful sunsets to raging sand storms. The overall aesthetics of the game is a bit reminiscent of the game Journey (mentioned above) yet still unique in many aspects.

Tengami is another artistic and beautiful mobile game. Tengami’s visual style is reminiscent of Japanese origami art combined with watercolor paintings. Although it is a platformer, it still manages to achieve a lot of depth with its unique folding paper structures, where details are revealed like pages of pop-up books.

Hohokum is a strange and unique game where players might struggle to find out the goal for a while. Without any instructions or narrative, you are left to your intuition and creative thinking to figure out what you are supposed to do. 

Once you get the hang of controlling the game, it will continue to surprise you with various challenges and vivid visuals. The closest experience I can compare playing Hohokum is filling out coloring books for adults, and it can certainly act as a visual meditation.

Firewatch is the first game from Olly Moss, an exceptional illustrator, and digital artist. Unlike the other games on this list, you are playing in first-person and navigating a three-dimensional world. What makes the world of Firewatch unique is that the environment and objects all look like illustrations with a reasonably minimalistic aesthetic. 

There is a big emphasis on color, atmosphere, and dynamic shapes. Besides the gorgeous visuals, Firewatch has an exciting story involving many mysteries surrounding a fire watch station.

Have you ever wanted to find out what a doll made of yarn is capable of when given the spark of life and sent on a challenging mission? Both Unravel games will show you exactly that. Apart from the unique game mechanics using the yarn thread, in which the main character is made of, Unravel also offers beautiful environments and a touching, poetic story.

Apotheon has an exceptionally unique visual style bringing ancient Greek pottery paintings to life. It is a challenging game with an engaging story combining most of the gods, goddesses, heroes, and villains from the rich Greek mythology. 

The creators and artists of Apotheon did a fantastic job animating the characters and environmental details inspired by objects found in archeological sites.

Ubisoft’s artistic division’s first game is a fairy tale painted with watercolor. Child of light’s most significant achievement is its unique and imaginative visual style. Still, it also has a fun and challenging battle system, reminiscent of turn-based Heroes of Might and Magic games.

Don't Starve is probably the unique survival horror game with an aesthetic that is inspired by Tim Burton’s signature illustrations and stop motion puppet animation films.

Besides its dark and weird characters and environments, this game is also tough to beat. Without any instructions and tutorials, players will struggle to find out how to survive the ever-increasing physical and mental threats their character has to face in an unforgiving world.

Inspired by Alaskan Native folklore and myths, Never Alone is a unique, poetic, and artistic game. Besides the engaging story and gorgeous visuals, this game also gives a good insight into the rarely seen or represented Iñupiat people's culture and belief.

14. Inside

Inside is another dark and grotesque game from the creators of Limbo, full of outstanding visual compositions and unique game mechanics.

While Limbo was strictly grayscale, Inside has a predominantly monochrome color palette with some well-placed pops of colors to highlight important details. The story slowly unveils itself but never ceases to surprise players with unexpected twists.

Probably the most dynamic, energetic, fun, and fast-paced game in this list, Rayman Legends is another visual treat, proving how an illustrated, cartoon-like aesthetic can work well in video games. The creators’ most significant achievement is the endless variety of characters, objects, and environments, including unforgettable boss fights, puzzles, and speed runs.
This game is a must as a reference if you want to master exaggerated character design and animation.


We hope you are feeling creatively inspired and ready to start playing more video games 🙂

Which style is your favorite? And finally, let us know if you would like us to review any of the games mentioned above.

redemption red dead

UP NEXT

A work-flow for transforming yourself into a Red Dead character using a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator!

Click here.

LEARN ADOBE APPLICATIONS

from Adobe Certified Instructors and industry professionals

About the author 

Martin Perhiniak

Martin Perhiniak is a Certified Adobe Design Master and Instructor. He was voted to be one of the top 10 Adobe instructors in the world by student feedback in 2015. In his online courses besides the technical knowledge you need, Martin will also teach you a lot about design principles, compositional techniques and plenty of best practices that he picked up and developed while working as a designer and retoucher on projects such as Pixar’s Cars and Toy Story, BBC’s Dr Who or Mattel’s Team Hot Wheels. He feels it his mission to share his insights of the design industry and its latest trends with beginners and creative professionals around the World.

Related topics you might be interested in

Learn how to create original and creative designs layouts!

Continue reading

We will introduce you to some very successful Designers and explore their use of Typography as image to inspire you and your own work.

Continue reading

We put together this step by step guide so you can feel confident when approaching new Logo Design projects.

Continue reading

Learn all about Contrast and how to master it like a pro!

Continue reading

A collection of the best resources for your next design project!

Continue reading

Create typography posters using applications such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop!

Continue reading

We share 10 Books that will help you improve your drawing skills!

Continue reading

We will cover color harmonies, the 60-30-10 rule, perception of color and so much more!

Continue reading