Video games as art? 10 of the best-looking games of the year

From platformers to first person shooters, video games have shrugged off their geeky image and are now played by people of all ages. But video games as art? Really?

The games industry thinks so (obviously). The legions of digital artists and animators who design the games think so. BAFTA thinks so. Even the Smithsonian museum thinks so.

Every game these days is an ambitious art project involving concept sketches, storyboards, detailed character art, animation, backgrounds, objects and textures. Here are a cluster of titles that could be dubbed 'the most artistic video games of the year'.

I Am Alive

Ubisoft gets its gloom on with this atmospheric survival horror set in a destroyed and desolate American city. Note the washed out colour palette and decaying, dust-covered buildings. It's a masterclass in how to use grey, light grey and even lighter grey.

Journey

Simple and achingly beautiful, Journey is a quest across shifting desert sands towards a distant mountain. It's easily one of the best-looking games of the year thanks to some incredible visual design, superb animation and bold, flat colours.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock's half-flooded, drug-addled, freak-infested underwater city was an art deco triumph. Bioshock Infinite abandons darkened Rapture for a brighter Columbia, a flying city influenced by early 20th Century Americana and J. C. Leyendecker posters.

Far Cry 3

Far Cry's relentless pursuit of realism gifts you a jaw-dropping game world with beautifully rendered foliage, stunning vistas and stop-and-stare waterfalls. Of course, you can also kill people. A lot.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

This RPG features the writing talents of best-selling author R.A Salvatore. You might recognise its Executive Art Director too. Celebrated comic book artist Todd McFarlane guided the look and feel of every character, weapon and landscape.

Paintscape

According to its creators, Paintscape is "a hyper-artistic take on the 2D-sidecroller shooter. You play as a feisty girl in a shoe tasked with wiping out the ever-bland black-and-white world."

Aliens: Colonial Marines

H.R Giger won an Oscar for his nightmarish Alien and dark, biomechanical art style. The facehuggers and chest-bursting xenomorphs return in this atmospheric shooter that recreates the claustrophobic panic of soldiers facing an almost unstoppable enemy.

Fez

An innovative platform game from Polytron, Fez is a platformer with a cute, pixel-imperfect retro vibe. While it looks like a simple 2D puzzler at first glance, players have the option to rotate the view to get a new perspective. Clever.

Dear Esther

Here's how The Telegraph described it. "The art direction drags your eye into all the right places. A rickety lighthouse lies abandoned, the sun desperately tries to burn through thick, dark clouds, splashing slivers of light on the waves... It is hauntingly beautiful."

Assassin's Creed 3

The Assassin's Creed franchise is a living history lesson. Having beautifully recreated 12th Century Jerusalem and 16th Century Venice, the newest game moves on to 18th Century colonial America during the revolution.

What do you think? Did we miss any out? Let us know what you think are the best-looking video games you've seen (from an artistic perspective) and tell us below.

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