30 Birds

In lieu of E3 this year, we were treated to an exhaustive barrage of video game trailers thanks to Summer Game Fest. Over the course of several days, we saw everything from your gun-totin’ triple-A games to some super-quiet and poignant indies.

I want to focus on some of the games that stood out to me due to their design aesthetics. These are games that use visuals in interesting, unusual, and creative ways. Since video games are a visual medium, I think visually stylish design choices deserve to be celebrated.

So with that said, let’s look at five of the most visually interesting games shown at Summer Game Fest 2022.

Skate Story

Half-Glass Gaming’s Julien called Skate Story “breathtaking,” and I wholeheartedly agree. I think we were both astounded by the aesthetics of the trailer. The premise of a glass demon who is fragile but compelled to skate is engaging, and makes for a more interesting art style. The music choice of “Set it on Fire” by Blood Cultures has me excited for the soundtrack as well. This may be the first skating game I’ve been excited about in over a decade, and it’s largely to do with aesthetics.

Here is the blurb on the steam page:

Ollie, kickflip, and grind your way through the ash and smoke of the Underworld as you take on a seemingly impossible quest. Skate fast to destroy demons and save other tortured souls on your journey from a fragile beginner to a hardened skater.

Honestly, though, just seeing Skate Story in action will probably do more to catch your interest than anything I have to say about it.

Animal Well

Animal Well is a pixel-art metroidvania that Half-Glass Gaming’s owner Josh was really into, and I can see why. It gives off heavy Fez vibes, in that it uses nostalgic pixel art to build something we haven’t really seen before. Plus, it’s supposedly loaded with secrets.

One exciting and new thing about this game is that it uses modern tech to pull off effects that don’t usually get applied to pixel art. I’ll go as far as to steal a quote from Billy Basso, the game’s developer:

A 4K TV screen has 144 times as many pixels, but that means I have 144 times as much processing power to apply to each pixel. Throughout the game you’ll see a lot of things like fluid sims or dynamic lighting effects that haven’t really been used in a pixel-art game before.

Some of these effects combine to create some gorgeous scenes that we’re only starting to get a peak at in the recent trailer (which I’ve posted above).

30 Birds

As you may have guessed from my recent mention of Fez, I am a sucker for creative applications of 2D and 3D spaces. We haven’t seen much of 30 Birds yet, but it definitely struck my curiosity with the way it uses 2D surfaces within 3D spaces. Navigation seems to be confined to 2D surfaces that are on the faces of 3D objects.


It’s hard to explain via text, but I would compare it to A Link Between Worlds or some of the 2D platforming sequences in Super Mario Odyssey. If that description doesn’t clear it up, you’ll have to check out the trailer for yourself to see what I mean.


There were at least a few rhythm game trailers at Summer Game Fest, though none of them were simple DDR knockoffs. Each one had something unique about it, and none of them look boring. But Melatonin was the one that caught my eye.

This was advertised as a rhythm game about dreams. It seems to be several connected minigames with a rhythmic component that somehow revolves around the act of dreaming.

Of course, I’m left with a lot of questions. Is this like WarioWare in that the minigames are all random? Or is this more like Dys4ia where minigames work to tell a larger story? Based on the trailer, I’d guess the latter, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Even if the minigames are just random and the story is minimal, the design of this game is what makes it stand out. Everything seems sort of dreamy and cartoony in a way that’s charming to me. Plus I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, so this would be a fun way to explore that concept.


Phonopolis is a puzzle game from the people who made Happy Game. It’s difficult to figure out what this game is about, so I’m going to quote the Phonopolis Steam page:

Take on the role of Felix, a young man who, along with his fellow citizens, faces the imminent threat of falling under the control of the city’s authoritarian Leader once and for all. Accidentally becoming the only person who recognizes the threat, Felix must try to stop the menace.

What I can say is that the papercraft visual style is really appealing. This trailer was introduced with the promise that it’s all gameplay footage, which is really interesting. It looks like a Picasso painting that moves, and there’s no visible U.I. in any of these shots. That gives it a cinematic flaire, but it also makes me wonder how you actually play this.

I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.

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