There are many aspects of video game art to appreciate: character design, graphics, costumes, environments, etc. But one thing that often goes underappreciated is the actual, literal art in video games, such as the paintings that hang on the walls of our favorite in-game worlds.
Some video game art includes reproductions of real-world paintings (like we see in the Assassin’s Creed series), but there’s also a lot of original artwork being created for these games—to add complexity and enrich the in-game world even further.
The Ratman Paints a Creepy Picture in Portal
Maybe artwork isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of the Portal series, but art does play a pretty interesting role. Portal‘s art often treads the line between aesthetics and function, as Doug Rattman’s scrawls guide the player through the labyrinthine Aperture Science; as the curious portrait of Cave Johnson and Caroline (with a strange figure lurking in the background) hints at mythological references; and as the chalk art retells the story of the first game to refresh your memory.
Take a Flying Leap Into Video Game Art in Super Mario 64
While the video game art of Super Mario 64 may not be the most beautiful or mysterious of the bunch, the game was the introduction to in-game art for a lot of players. Traveling into the paintings themselves was a fun way to enter a ton of unique worlds, and the variations in play styles this created—even within the same world—kept the game feeling fresh as you hunted down all 120 stars.
Page 2: The Art Deco of BioShock