Welcome to the time of the year where we take a look back at some of the best games that came out in 2021. Over the last year we’ve seen varied art styles in video games like the anime style in Guilty Gear -Strive- and the more cartoony styles present in Psychonauts 2 and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Without any further ado, here are the games that had the best art direction of 2021.
Best Video Game Art Direction of 2021
Honorable Mention: Guilty Gear -Strive-
Deputy Guides Editor Ethan Anderson: If we’re being honest, Guilty Gear Strive might just be one of the best-looking anime-style fighting games — not just in 2021, but of all time. Arc System Works has outdone themselves yet again, following up on the releases of Dragon Ball FighterZ and Granblue Fantasy Versus.
Thanks to some truly stellar art direction, Strive makes you feel like you’re controlling characters that come straight out of an anime. Their designs have been updated from the previous installment, Guilty Gear Xrd, and the animations for regular attacks, special attacks, Roman Cancels, and even taunts have received significant upgrades thanks to the new and improved style.
The top-tier visuals go beyond even the characters though, with eye-catching scenery across every single one of the stages in the game. The new stage transitions that happen when knocking opponents through the side of the screen even allow for brand-new sections of each stage to appear. And whether it’s a snowy factory in a blizzard or a sunlit jungle, every background has the potential to leave players in awe.