Pixel Art has made a comeback in recent years, thanks to the successes of titles like Super Time Force, Super Meat Boy and the hyperbolic depiction of astounding violence in pixelated form of Hotline Miami, this chunky 2D graphical style looks here to stay. Pixel Art was originally a form of displaying characters and levels in a manageable way for consoles, arcades and home computing titles of the 1980’s. Their usage saw a rapid decline during the era of the 3D capable consoles like the Sony Playstation and the Nintendo 64.
The contrast with how Pixel Art is used now, is that it’s not retro, it’s innovation, bringing new advanced techniques to games most characteristic gaming style. Creating distinctive, beautiful titles which amaze and engage with a new generation of players and the great news is that on the horizon there’s more of these highly creative titles emerging and encompassing a multitude of genres
*These are in no particular order
The first title I want to focus on is Wargroove, it’s a real time strategy game which has been getting a lot of attention especially of fans of series like Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. Being developed for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One by Chucklefish studios, players are invited to take control of one of 12 Commanders. Each Commander has their own campaign, strategy and personality promising to make controlling each of these Commanders a genuinely different experience for the player.
The game features local and online multiplayer modes including player vs player and co op modes. This game is seemingly a spiritual successor to Advance Wars and features beautiful Pixel based art. Chucklefish may have spotted a gap in the current generation’s market for a genuinely interesting strategy game.
Chasm is an upcoming Metroidvania style action platforming adventure, its being developed and released by Bit Kid, no release date has been confirmed at present, but it’s widely rumoured for release in 2018. Microsoft Windows, Mac,Linux and Playstation 4 users should be able to explore six levels of hack and slash graphical beauty soon. You play as a young soldier named Daltyn is sent to investigate the remote mountain town of Kathas as they have recently stopped all communication. Daltyn soon finds that paranormal forces have sealed off the town from the outside world, now trapped, Daltyn’s only hope is to explore the mines underground.
The animation for this game looks smooth and hopefully the action and control elements live up to the potential promised from this game’s initial inception. The Pixel art style features subtle shading and tremendous detail. This could be one for fans of classic action adventure titles to become very excited over.
3.) Children of Morta
This is a Rogue-like title, an action RPG with procedurally generated level elements, the emphasis on this game however is it’s narrative. Which is unique with a game of this type and presumably quite difficult to do , however Dead Mage studios believe that they can pull this off.
You play as members of the Bergson family, who have been guardians of the mystical mountain called Morta, an evil corruption has spread and started to spawn monsters which must be fought. This is promised to be a breath taking narrative which centres around family loyalty, duty and loss.
This is a beautifully atmospheric game which is upcoming from developers Eneme Entertainment and Publishers Devolver Digital for the Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Set within the intense mythological and popular culture of the Norse, this action hack and slash adventure game promises tight, responsive combat and a fresh new way to gain experience points. The trailer shows off some amazing light effects as we take control of a Shield Maiden on her way to the great World Ash tree of Yggdrasil to bring light to it’s seemingly unending darkness and to defeat the mischievous Loki.
5.) Death's Gambit
The word unique is used quite extensively when it comes to upcoming games, but there’s an element of justification when it’s used for this title, this upcoming title is being developed by White Rabbit studios and published by Adult Swim for the Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows. This is an action, adventure RPG which has elements similar to the Shadow of the Colossus. You climb Giant Bosses and one of the most amazing element of this in the game is the sense of scale that is achieved graphically as you do so.
Its plot doesn’t revolve around the stereotypical Medieval setting, instead you are exploring an alien planet filled with beasts and horrors that stalk the landscape. You are an agent of Death, bound to your eternal master's service and must both banish your fears and fight against the evil which has blighted the world of Leydia. This title promises an interesting combat system with tight, responsive controls as you master the magical abilities at your disposal.
Developer Laughing Machines has created a beautiful and complex Action RPG game which allows you to play as one of seven characters. This is a Rougelike game which is eyeball poppingly fast. Laughing Machines tout this title as a form of art which brings together all the best ideas from classic gaming titles that they enjoyed as players. It’s an ambitious project which was funded on a Kickstarter campaign. The strength of the trailer has impressed me and I’m looking forward to seeing what this studio can bring to innovate a classic genre
From Matt Makes Games and with a January 2018 release date for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows, Celeste is a platforming adventure which focuses on the player climbing a mystic mountain. This is the product of a gaming jam session and is a series of challenging platforms as the player attempts to make their way up a mountain. The player can move and jump through the levels and also has a special dash ability which they can use (as long as that abilities power hasn’t depleted).
Imaginative platforming is something which hasn’t been successfully done in most of the current generations consoles and this could be a boon for fans of imaginative level design and a beautifully clear graphical style. Coming from the developers of the popular TowerFall this could be a sleeper hit.
8.) Narita Boy
Coming from Studio Koba and with a projected release date of December 2018, this pixel art game pays homage to madcap adventures of the action film genre of the 1980’s, from it’s style to it’s tongue in cheek humour featuring abstract sequences where our hero surfs on a floppy disk!
This will be available for PC, Mac and Linux platforms initially, with Playstation 4, Xbox One and Switch version being planned later. Playing as Narita Boy a supreme hero, you must use your techno sword against the evil that has threatened the digital kingdom. This looks funny and violent with a stylish, self-referential tone added for fantastic effect.
9.) Project Octopath Traveller
This is a simply gorgeous RPG which immediately strikes you with the HD-2D style which Developers Square Enix and Acquire has developed, taking 16-bit style character sprites and combining them with polygonal environments and high definition effects. This is a turn based battle game which is solely for the Nintendo Switch, the game places the player in the role of one of eight adventurers, who (like in Dragon Age) begin their journey in different ways and each with special abilities such as enticing NPCs to follow you or challenge them to battle against you.
Square is simply the master of games like this and it’s great to see them back to champion a style which they owned in the late 80’s early 90’s. I can’t wait to see the reaction Switch users will have to this, the game has an unconfirmed but planned simultaneous release date of 2018.
This big and bloody hack and slash game is being developed for Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows and Mac and invites the player to don a rather strange looking conical hat similar to that used by the Spanish Inquistion and murder…everything. This game reminds me a lot of Slane, another brooding, gothic slash-em-up. There’s elements of platforming and massive demonic bosses to slay. It looks absolutely epic and it’s one of my favourites on this list.
So those are my picks for the best Pixel Art games which should hit our systems next year. This genre of gaming seems to have rejuvenated an interest in classic gameplay action, straddling the popular Retro gaming groups and the contemporary gamers of today. Each of these choices have the potential to be satisfying and immersive experiences. Keep up to date with Game Tyrant for more detailed information on them as they get closer to their prospective release dates.