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Best Art Direction of 2021

Best Art Direction of 2021 - Article

by Taneli Palola , posted on 16 January 2022 / 2,682 Views

Art direction in video games means to create or curate a look and style for a game to elicit a desired reaction from the audience when they engage with it. It's a way of conveying a specific message about the game's world, characters, and story in order to draw out an emotional or cultural response from those who play it. The following five games from 2021 exemplify great art direction in a variety of different ways.


The Shortlist:


It Takes Two


Metroid Dread


Kena: Bridge of Spirits


Psychonauts 2


The Artful Escape





The Winner:

Metroid Dread

Runner-up: Psychonauts 2

Each game here had a very distinct goal when it came to art direction, and the one that seemed to appeal most to people this year was the dark, ominous, and often mechanical look of Metroid Dread. Samus' most recent outing has certainly satisfied most series fans, and it's clear the look and style of the game - from its gorgeous backdrops to its wonderful animations - has a lot to do with that.

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JWeinCom (on 16 January 2022)

I would've flipped the runner up and winner, but both great looking games.

  • +9
Jaicee (on 16 January 2022)

I voted for The Artful Escape easily myself, feeling that it did something pretty novel and inspired generally, but especially in the visual department for this award. Psychonauts 2 would've been my second pick. More people gotta play those games!

  • +8
ireadtabloids (on 16 January 2022)

Impressive how Psychonauts 2 has achieved an art style that a lot of people love by modernising and working carefully with the visual identity of the first game. I’ve heard so much exaggerated criticism of the looks of the first game that it’s refreshing to see so many people loving what Double Fine have achieved with Psychonauts 2.

  • +4
rapsuperstar31 (on 16 January 2022)

Now this is a great category, I would have been satisfied with Metroid, Psychonauts 2, or Kena winning it. All 3 games had fantastic art styles. Never heard of the Artful Escape but that picture looks pretty great as well.

  • +3
Vodacixi (on 16 January 2022)

To me, NEO: The World Ends With You has the best art of the year

  • +2
JWeinCom Vodacixi (on 16 January 2022)

Underrated game. Disappointed to see it not nominated for anything.

  • 0
Kakadu18 (on 16 January 2022)

Voted for Metroid Dread. I think it's incredibly stylish.

  • +1
freebs2 (on 17 January 2022)

Sorry, I loved Dread but it's RE Village

  • 0
Trentonater (on 16 January 2022)

Metroid Dread has possibly the blandest art direction in the metroid franchise. For a game with Dread in the title its very clean an utilitarian with little of the atmospheric dread or eldritch horror you can find in say Metroid Prime 2.

  • -4
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