2019 oprainfall Awards: Best Design

Friday, February 21st, 2020

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Previous Winners
2016: Muv-Luv
2017: Cuphead
2018: Octopath Traveler

The category of Best Design is always a somewhat contentious one. After all, art is more than a little subjective, and the eye of the beholder holds more than a bit of weight in such matters. That said, we’ve given the gold to some interesting titles in the past, and I wouldn’t say any of them was totally undeserving. This year, Best Design is split three ways between three very different games. One has you control a bloody-handed assassin on a quest for answers, another has you jump into a virtual game world, and the last involves a plumber, his pup and his Poltergust. The question is, which one dazzled our writers the most?

Death end re;Quest

Best Design | Death end re;Quest
NA Release Date: May 16th, 2019
Platform(s): PC, PS4

I always find it somewhat tricky to write up a game I haven’t played yet, though with the category of Best Design, it’s somewhat less of a challenge. I can tell just by looking that Death end re;Quest is a colorful and anime-styled game, with some horrific insectoid monsters and well animated heroes. It’s no huge surprise this one was developed by IFI, since they’re also responsible for the Neptunia series, which also involves some powerful women. Thankfully, this title differentiates itself with darker and more mature themes, which are all reflected by the fantastic design. But when Death end re;Quest is up against such strong competition, can it truly take the crown for Best Design?

Katana ZERO

Best Design | Katana ZERO
NA Release Date: April 18th, 2019
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

Whereas I wasn’t super familiar with the last game, I have a lot of experience with Katana ZERO. It’s one of those titles that was instantly on my radar after it was first announced, and after playing it, I can say it’s with good reason. Not only is Katana ZERO a tremendously fun and challenging game, but it’s utterly eye catching as well. Sure, it’s all mostly retro goodness reminiscent of older titles, but it’s also super stylish and full of detail and color. Your eyes will not get bored as you play, and it’s even pretty when you rewind the clock to undo an unfortunate death or two. I honestly think this is one of the most attractive games on the Switch, so it’s easy to see why it’s nominated for Best Design. That said, it might have stiff competition from the next game…

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Best Design | Luigi's Mansion 3
NA Release Date: October 31st, 2019
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Having both Katana ZERO and Luigi’s Mansion 3 nominated for Best Design makes me feel like I’m having a Sophie’s Choice scenario. I loved both of these games, in large part for their fantastic visual flair. While Katana ZERO is full of blood soaked chaos and neon mayhem, Luigi’s Mansion 3 has tons of amazing use of light and shadow, not to mention crazy designs for the many ghosts haunting the Last Resort. Not only is the game a treat for the eyes, but it also conveys menace and humor with equal skill, making for a fun ghostbusting adventure. Normally I’d think this is a shoo-in for the gold, but you never know with our writers…

And the most flashy winner of Best Design is…

Best Design | Death end re;Quest Win
Death end re;Quest!

Normally I would complain here, but honestly, I feel any of our three nominees were worthy of the Best Design crown. Sure, I would have personally preferred Katana ZERO or Luigi’s Mansion 3 win, but sometimes the democratic method doesn’t go your way. That said, I do find the horrible monsters from Death end re:Quest quite fascinating, and congratulate IFI on making such an interesting looking RPG!

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.