By Josh Speer / January 15th, 2018
2013: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
2014: Shovel Knight
Design is a tricky category because everybody has different artistic tastes. Some think simple is beautiful, some prefer abstract, some swear by realism. There’s a lot of camps, and it’s hard to pick one game as the Best Design. We’re only human, after all, and we often get things wrong. That said, we here at oprainfall believe in the democratic process, so we voted and we stand by that vote. The following 5 games were all contenders for Best Design of 2017. Here they are in alphabetical order.
NA Release Date: September 29th, 2017
Platform(s): PC, XBox One
StudioMDHR Entertainment put a ton of heart, soul and artistry into Cuphead, and their dedication and craft shows. I would have never thought that a game that mixes SHMUPs with Souls-like difficulty and art reminiscent of classic 1930s animation would coalesce so well, but Cuphead manages to pull it off. This spectacularly cartoony game divides many on difficulty, but you’d be hard pressed to say it didn’t deserve to be nominated for design. The question is, was it enough to convince our writers?
NA Release Date: February 23rd, 2017
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PC
Say what you will about Platinum Games, but they know how to design games visually. Everything they have a hand in oozes style and personality, and NieR: Automata is no exception. You wouldn’t think a game about androids would feature sexy and stlyish characters, but you’d be dead wrong. This crazy spin-off of the Drakengard series proved it could more than pull its own weight, while flaunting high heels. But did the robots look good enough to hack the vote in their favor?
NA Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
Over the last few years, I’ve really grown to appreciate the Persona franchise. It confronts players with mature situations with no easy moral answer, and they are always packed with fantastic combat, dialogue and art. While the larger Shin Megami Tensei series is also known for its art, Persona in particular does more with it. The characters always pop with personality, and the use of a varied color palette makes Persona 5 sparkle. Playing like a live action anime, this game captivated many with its lush style. Was it able to pull off the perfect heist?
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
NA Release Date: December 1st, 2017
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
It’s no surprise that oprainfall was enamored with the true sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This was more than a spiritual successor, it was also an expansion on the amazing adventure enjoyed on the Wii U and New 3DS. Featuring massive monsters, intrigue and more, it was one of the best Switch releases of last year. While I feel the art style is a bit more on the cartoony side than the original, the game still features beautiful art and vibrant new characters. It would be easy to assume that makes it a lock for best design, but there’s still one more contender…
NA Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
I’m gonna admit it right off the bat – I’m very surprised Yakuza 0 is one of the nominees for best design. While I know I just angered many fans of the series, hear me out. It’s little more than video game representation of Japanese mobs that is mostly going for a realistic vibe. It is grounded in reality and is pretty basic. For me personally, I find this boring, as I personally prefer games that are more creative and flashy. That said, I know Yakuza 0 has its fanbase, and while it may not be as creative as the other contenders, it also is far from ugly. Will it be able to beat the competition bloody and take the crown?
And the Winner is –
Quite simply, no. Sorry other contenders. This year, the award for best design goes to none other than Cuphead! I admit I was secretly rooting for this indie gem, and was very pleased it won. While all the other games brought something unique to the table, I truly feel only Cuphead deserved it. The lush cartoony art is just so incredible that it defies words. For that reason, Cuphead reigned supreme in the category of Best Design for 2017.
2017 AwardsBest DesignCupheadNier: automataoprainfallPersona 5Xenoblade Chronicles 2yakuza 0