There’s nothing more nostalgic than pixel graphics. From the golden age of the arcade to rousing indie hits, pixel art will always be timeless.
This article is to celebrate the craft of pixel art, and so will focus primarily on game aesthetics – the below list does not rank games in terms of their overall quality, but solely how successful its graphics are. Hey, visuals are a big part of any game!
So if you’ve recently been bitten by the pixelated bug, here are six of our all-time favourite pixel art games.
6. Potion Permit
Developed by MassHive Media, Potion Permit is an open-ended RPG sim in which you play as a young chemist who has recently moved to the sickly town of Moonbury. Its graphics remind me a lot of old-school RPG Maker games, with wonderfully precise modern flourishes.
This game has some amazingly sweet sprites, and the sheer amount of detail in each and every one is something to be applauded. If you want to give Potion Permit a spin, it’s available on Steam now!
5. Mushroom Musume
This sweet DOS-inspired princess raising game sets you on a hermit’s journey to raise your own daughter – from a magic mushroom! If that isn’t enough to hook you, the game features classic-style pixel graphics and gorgeously stylised mushroomy illustrations.
Genre enthusiasts are very likely to have at least heard of Celeste. This notoriously difficult platformer does not only contain an intense and beautiful storyline and allegory for the trans experience, but it’s just a joy to look at.
Compared to some of the other examples on this list Celeste’s pixel art is not the most detailed, but this is something the game more than makes up for with its stellar colouring and expert level design. You can take a closer look at Celeste here!
Unsighted is one of those games that really understands how expressive and animated pixel art can be. Developed by Studio Pixel Punk (a fitting name), this game is a choice-based sci-fi RPG adventure, and it rules.
The pixel art is fairly anime-inspired, and in my opinion its real strengths are in its backgrounds and enemy design. Pure eye candy. Check out Unsighted for yourself here!
2. Dead Cells
If you’re any kind of pixel gaming enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of Dead Cells; one of the most successful indie games in modern history. This roguelike action platformer game has only recently passed its five year anniversary, and is even getting its own animated series. If it’s going to look anything like the game itself, then sign me up!
Dead Cells’ sprites are instantly readable, beautifully coloured and immediately iconic. The NPC designs especially convey so much expression with relatively little room for detail – it’s wildly impressive. If you haven’t played the game before, do yourself a favour and check it out on Steam.
1. Katana ZERO
While there are a plethora of titles that deserve consideration for the number one slot on this list, I have to give it to Katana Zero for the sheer amount of dynamism and environmental variety found within the game.
This neo-noir action platformer interweaves cinematic sequences into gameplay, leading to an insanely polished interactive experience. Any fans of the Blade Runner aesthetic simply must play this game – check it out on Steam if you haven’t already.
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