Some games use hand-drawn art directions to take the visuals to a whole new level. Here are a few of the best and most attractive.
In a world where CGI and 3D images are everywhere, it can sometimes be more interesting to go back to the basics when it comes to game art. Now, talented artists can show off their work in a new way—not in a museum or gallery, but in video games.
Hand-drawn graphics have become more popular lately. There are over 3,100 PC games on Steam with the Hand-Drawn tag, and many more for the Nintendo Switch and other consoles. Whether they’re small indie games or big triple-A games, players can find a lot of games with unique hand-drawn graphics to add to their growing libraries.
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator
In this Niceplay Games-made making puzzle simulation game, players are in a small mediaeval town. The goal of aspiring alchemists is to make the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, which means they have to learn how to make potions for the townspeople and take care of their needs while keeping their image.
The graphics are unique and spellbinding, from the art of the characters to the detailed details of the Alchemy Map, where new recipes for potions can be found. Players can also make their own bottles and jars for potions. So they can make them look like they belong in their shop.
Annapurna Interactive is known for making beautiful, all-encompassing journeys. One of the company’s first games, Gorogoa, shows how dedicated it is to making unique games with moving stories. In this interactive graphic book, a young boy faces a mysterious monster called Gorogoa over the course of his life. Players solve puzzles by moving pictures around in a two-by-two grid and find out what’s going on with the strange behemoth.
Everything in Gorogoa was painstakingly drawn by hand by artist Jason Roberts. You can see the work of artists like David Roberts, Gustave Doré, Christopher Manson, and Chris Ware in his complex story. Byzantine two-dimensional art was also used to add to Gorogoa’s style, making it a world that is both timeless and familiar.
Team Cherry’s famous and notoriously hard adventure platformer is known for its iconic hand-drawn 2D graphics. Hollow Knight follows your journey through the dark, old ruins of Dirtmouth. You side-scroll through caves and tunnels to find your way through the darkness and find secret treasures.
Along with the moody painted scenery, the hand-drawn character designs and animations for the unique cast show that a lot of attention to detail was paid to every little thing. This one is for people who like art that is both dark and cute.
It would be hard to find a style of art that is more recognisable than Cuphead’s. This hard action-platformer is highly based on the “Rubber Hose” style of early cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s, like Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willy.
The game’s art uses the same kinds of techniques that were popular at the time. Such as watercolour backgrounds and hand-drawn cel animation. Characters like Cuphead and Mugman, as well as a large number of very detailed and over-the-top bad guys, are designed, and fights are set to original jazz records to set the mood.
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Vanillaware has a good name when it comes to making hand-drawn video games. This Japanese company is known for its interesting 2.5D graphics, which combine hand-drawn sprites with a skeletal system to make animation that flows smoothly. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, on the other hand, was a big turning point for the company. 13 Sentinels was not a fantasy game like Odin Sphere or Dragon’s Crown. Instead, it was a complicated science fiction story that pushed the studio beyond what people thought were its limits.
13 Sentinels is an ode to kaiju films from the 1980s. But it has a spin that will turn your head. Instead of the brighter backgrounds of previous VanillaWare games, 13 Sentinels had dull cityscapes that were brought out by great lighting effects. Also, the game’s character designs are based on the work of Akira Kagami, who was a famous manga artist in the 1980s. Last but not least, the game used both 2D and 3D images to bring the huge robot sentinels to life.
This party-based RPG comes out in June 2021. It uses procedural storytelling, tactical combat, and “choices matter” decisions to change how your character’s journey goes and who joins your tasks. The 2D hand-drawn pictures are charming and draw you in. They remind me of tabletop games.
Wildermyth takes stories that keep going back and forth to a new level with a huge number of new and interesting characters. There are a lot of hand-drawn characters that will win your hear. From the random group of people who join your quest to the fresh and funny bad guys you meet along the way.
This game will make you cry because it is a cosy management exercise about death. Spiritfarer’s beautiful artwork, on the other hand, is stunning. Instead of a dark, grim graphic style, it uses hand-drawn, colourful art and character movement.
In this emotional and moving story about life, death, and everything after, you’ll feel a lot of different emotions. A bunch of strange animal characters will keep you company and help you lead recently dead souls to the afterlife. You can also enjoy the beautiful art at its best because you can change how your character and boat look.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
This award-winning game has over 10,000 positive reviews on Steam and a rate of “Overwhelmingly Positive.” One look at “Ender Lilies” will show you why. This 2D action RPG takes place in a fantasy world where evil has caused a lot of damage. To solve the kingdom’s secrets, you have to fight deadly enemies in challenging Metroidvania-style battles.
Every scene, character, and animation is carefully drawn by hand, like Hollow Knight and Bloodstained, which are also hard games. Ender Lilies is a great game for people who like dark fantasy and games with deep, emotional music.
Street Fighter 3
Street Fighter 3 is known as the most underrated game in the genre for a number of reasons. The most important thing was that many of the well-known world heroes from Street Fighter 2 were replaced by a new group of characters. Also, the game added very technical parts, like the exact parry system, which made it harder for new players to understand. Capcom finally chose to keep Street Fighter 3 as a 2D game. Even though the market was moving towards 3D polygonal games.
The hand-drawn images in Street Fighter 3 are some of the best in the history of fighting games. So this choice was a good one. The series used Capcom’s new CPS-III arcade hardware, which let designers make sprites with more details. For example, each character has between 700 and 1,200 animation frames that were made by hand. Also, the game was the first of its kind to run at 60 frames per second. So even small things, like simple actions and clothes that flow, are beautiful to look at.
Tale Of Immortal
This sandbox RPG with an open world is based on Chinese lore and culture. Tale of Immortal was first only available in Chinese, but in August 2021, an English language patch was added. This made the highly styled game available to a wider audience around the world.
In Tale of Immortal, each mountain and seascape is made with hand-drawn art, which is based on old Chinese tapestries. The people you meet on your way to your fate are also carefully made by hand. In Flappy Bird game, you have to make hard choices and deal with unexpected results at every step.
The cute-looking role-playing game (RPG) with colourful hand-drawn art quickly turns into a psychological horror that reminds me of Doki Doki Literature Club. Landscapes in the background range from cute, colourful, and cartoon-like to simple black-and-white room designs that look like they were made with crayons.
When bad guys and scary animals hide in the dark and the graphics look like something a kid would draw for a horror movie, the scary factor goes up a lot. Also, its simple style is a great way to trick people into thinking they are safe when they are not.
Skullgirls: 2nd Encore
This 2D indie fighter from 2013 was praised by critics and has more than a dozen hand-drawn and animated figures with their own personalities and traits. Skullgirls also has a lot of different ways to play, from a fully voiced story mode to a full-on fight mode with friends nearby or online.
The colourful cast of people and the incredibly dark world with its detailed landscapes make for the perfect setting for a fight. Skullgirls looks like a mix of Streets of Rage and Bayonetta. So it’s a great game for people who like arcade-style brawlers.
I Was A Teenage Exocolonist
Teenage years are memorable because they are full of fears of change and hopes for the future. I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, which was made by Northway Games and released by Finji, shows these differences on an alien world with no people. This independent gem was praised by critics when it came out. And it was even nominated for a 2022 Game Award.
I was in my teens. Exocolonist follows the main character as they go through different lives and experience different things. In one reality, a freak accident kills your childhood friend. In another, that friend stays alive and gives birth to the first child of the space colony. Before you find your life’s work, you might study xenobotany, run for governor, or die. The game’s illustrators carefully showed each possible reality by hand-drawing event scenes, place backgrounds, character designs, and unique skill cards.
As if we could not talk about this unique rogue-lite. In Hades, an independent rogue-like dungeon game made by the same people who made Bastion and Pyre. Players fight for their freedom from the god of the dead in the depths of the Underworld. Try to escape to success with the help of the Olympians, such as Zeus, Athena, and Poseidon.
In true Supergiant style, all of the settings are hand-painted, and the larger-than-life characters are all drawn by hand. This great game has gained a lot of fans since it came out in September 2020. Thanks to its unique art style, adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, and fast-paced gameplay features.