One particular genre of games that have always both interested and frustrated me in equal measure are Art games. Over the last week I have been playing a number of games that fall under the category of Art games and the majority look fantastic as far as art style is concerned but that is usually where the praise ends for me.
If I had to describe art games, I would describe them as games with a focus as using games as a medium to make an artistic statement, either through the use of narrative or visual focuses. Typically, these games have unique and interesting art styles as well as gameplay that typically revolve around a central mechanic.
The problem I have personally with this style of games (And the following is a blanket statement that by no means covers every game in the genre) is that many of them seem to sacrifice the gameplay for the artistic side of the game. Over the last week I have played “Never alone”, “That dragon Cancer” “Everybody’s gone to the rapture” and “The unfinished Swan”. Most of them had great Art styles and sometimes well written stories, but the gameplay themselves was severely lacking. Unfinished swan looked fantastic and had a neat gameplay mechanic, but the novelty wore off far faster than the game had content. Never alone had a good story to tell and an appealing art style, but the gameplay itself was a dry, fairly unchallenging puzzle-platformer which lost me very quickly.
Despite my criticism, there are many examples of this style of game that are fantastic and showcase that games can make strong statements both in terms of quality and intent. “Braid” Offers fantastic gameplay with an interesting mechanic coupled with an intriguing narrative and unique appealing art style that is easy to remember. Another good example of this style of game is “Flower”. Flower uses an interesting mechanic of petals flying through the air whilst cutscenes tell a story. The game is designed intelligently, keeping the length short enough that the mechanic and story do not outstay their welcome whilst being long enough to feel satisfying as an enclosed experience.
Art games are something that I love visually but often find myself disappointed as far as the mechanics are concerned. The good examples make me hopeful but the bas examples leave me sour. Over the next couple of days I am going to purchase Journey for the PS4 and give my opinions on it here as its art style alone has interested me greatly.