5 indie games with the most unique art styles

Hades is an indie game with a fully hand-drawn comic book art style (Image via Supermassive Games)
Hades is an indie game with a fully hand-drawn comic book art style (Image via Supermassive Games)

Indie games are video games developed by independent studios, not owned by large industry brands like Sony or Xbox. These are smaller studios with a relatively modest workforce which partner with various publishers to release their self-developed games. Thus, indie games tend to be smaller and instead uniquely designed.

One of the most attractive features of indie games is that many are presented in a rare or unique art style, making the game stand out visually and aesthetically. Such a quality is generally attached to the game to make it pleasing to look at and set it apart from the games from large-scale industries, whose dedication to realism makes many games look similar.

Thus, indie games are generally praised for their art design and one-of-a-kind aesthetic that gives each game its look and feel.


The success of these indie games can be tied to their spectacular art

1) Hades

Hades (Image via Supermassive Games)
Hades (Image via Supermassive Games)

Hades was a 2020s breakout indie game developed and published by Supergiant Games. Originally released for PCs and Nintendo Switch, this game was later ported to PlayStation and Xbox consoles in 2021. This was a rougle-like action dungeon crawler game set amidst the ancient Greek mythological setting.

youtube-cover

The protagonist is the fictional son of Hades, known as Zagreus, who wishes to leave the underworld. While the game takes place across four different sub-regions of the Greek underworld, the art design renders each environment in stunning two-dimensional detail, drawn by artist Jen Zee.

Along with the environment, all the characters, from Zagreus to his friends and family, as well as all of the Greek Gods featured in this indie game, are also drawn in splendid comic book style. While retaining the aesthetics of Greek culture, Jen Zee has taken a modern way of depicting the ancient Olympian gods, giving each of them a singular look and paying respects to their origins.


2) Tunic

Tunic (Image via Finji)
Tunic (Image via Finji)

An action-adventure indie game, Tunic follows the adventures of an anthropomorphic fox in a strange world filled with mysterious creatures and items. Developed by Andrew Shouldice and published by Finji, this game was released on March 16th, 2022, for PCs and Xbox consoles.

youtube-cover

This is a soul-like indie game, which is set in an isometric setting, through which the players can control the fox protagonist across. The game’s art style is rather hard to describe, somewhat a combination of boxy yet smooth 3D textures similar to the Link’s Awakening remake from 2019.

Another unique aesthetic of this game is its in-world language, presented in a foreign script, even the items, and character dialogue. This runic language is never translated in the game but requires the players to work it out via context clues, environmental cues, and basic common sense.


3) Unpacking

Unpacking (Image via Witch Beam)
Unpacking (Image via Witch Beam)

Unpacking is the first game by the developer Witch Beam, released on November 2nd, 2021. This indie game allows players to play through different levels in which they must unpack the protagonist’s luggage and arrange their belongings across the various rooms available.

youtube-cover

This game offers a nostalgic art style in the form of a pixelated design, evoking the aesthetic of the older titles from the 90s. Each level of the game is presented in a pixelated art form, including all interactable items and moveable objects. This over gives the game a lo-fi look and feel to it.

Another aspect that contributes to the game's overall design is the sound, which is painstakingly created to fit all the different moveable objects. Players can try this out themselves when placing an object on different surfaces, which will make different contact sounds based on where they are being placed.


4) Journey

Journey (Image via Sony)
Journey (Image via Sony)

This indie game was co-developed by Thatgamecompany and Santa Monica Studios and was originally released on March 13, 2012, for the PlayStation 3. The premise of the game is quite simple. Players will spot a robed figure with a scarf in a vast desert whose goal is to travel to a mountain far away in the distance.

youtube-cover

Journey’s whole deal is its spectacular gameplay and artistic style, which incorporates a simple design, but is brilliantly presented. As players start their journey across the vast desert, they can additionally jump and either shout or produce a musical note which are all the controls the game offers.

However, as players make their way, they might come across other players who can assist them or be assisted in their game world. The musical notes produced by the players can aid each other, change their scarves and allow them to clear different levels. It has been listed as one of the greatest video games.


5) Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium (Image via ZA/UM)
Disco Elysium (Image via ZA/UM)

Another entry into the greatest video games of all time category, Disco Elysium, was developed and published by ZA/UM and released on October 15, 2019, originally for PCs. This indie game is an RPG, which sees the player choose various starting attributes for the protagonist and start the game suffering from amnesia.

youtube-cover

The game is present in its now distinctive oil painting art style, with each environment and item depicted this way. The lead painter for the game was Aleksander Rostov, who worked with other artists to bring the game’s worlds to life. As an open-world game, viewed from an isometric perspective, the game features many different localities and scenery, all of which are presented in a distinct art style.

The game's aesthetic adds flavoring to the play's overall story, narrative, and themes. The setting is a city recovering from a war, which had occurred decades before the game's events. Players participate in solving a murder mystery that blurs the lines between black and white perceptions.


Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now