The debate whether video games can be art has been settled by these eight mobile games, and the answer is a resounding 'yes'.
10-03-2017 - by Iris Wijers
I remember playing Snake on my phone when I was younger. The game was good fun and a nice way to pass the time and show off my great new flip phone to my friends. Mobile gaming has certainly evolved since I maneuvered that black line over the green background of my phone, now capable of showing me gorgeous worlds, telling intricate stories and connecting with me on a deeper level. Whether it’s through beautiful graphics, though-provoking stories or innovative gameplay, these eight mobile games prove that some videogames really are works of art.
Transistor (€9,99) - IOS
Transistor is a slowly unfolding mystery with a unique combat presented via beautiful graphics. The game tells the story of Red, a singer who has lost her voice, and her dead companion whose voice is stuck in the sword she carries – the Titular Transistor. The game doesn’t simply look pretty: the original soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful and the cutscenes truly show off the artistic prowess of this intricately designed game.
Never Alone: Ki Edition (€4,99) - IOS & Android
Never Alone tells the story of Iñupiat girl Nuna and her snowy companion Fox. The pair traverses the harsh landscape of Alaska to discover the cause behind the blizzard ravaging the continent. The game was developed in collaboration with the Iñupiat people and borrows a traditional story shared by the Iñupiat across generations. The gameplay is simple platforming in which you can control both Fox and Nuna, but the strength of the game lies in its beautiful graphics and the story, which is narrated in the traditional Iñupiat language.
You may not think that a skiing game with no story can be considered a work of art, but pick up Alto’s adventure and you might just change your mind. The game is an endless runner that gives you the ability to ski endlessly through an evocative, minimalist landscape. As you glide endlessly through the snow and watch the landscape and weather change around you with the beautiful soundtrack filling your ears, you’ll once again remember how gorgeous the world can be when it wants to.
Many of the games on this list, made it to this list by partially virtue of evocative graphics or beautiful music. A text-based game lacking both might therefore seem out of place on this list, but Creatures such as we uses the human imagination to craft an art out of words. The story being told places you on the moon as a tour guide. Your life consists of playing videogames and guiding new visitors around the moon. The game you’ve been playing leaves you unsatisfied and the next guests on the moon are, coincidentally, the designers of the game. You have the chance to change the ending of the game you’ve been playing by debating with the designers, inspire them and discover how to get the ending you’ve always wanted. The story is poignant, philosophical and engrossing as it questions the inevitability of death, the meaning of art and what it means to search for ‘the good ending’.
That Dragon, Cancer is painfully real. Not because of realistic graphics, but because of raw emotion. That Dragon, Cancer tells the true story of Joel, a boy diagnosed with terminal cancer, from the parents’ perspective. The game is largely narrated by the family members of Joel as they discuss death, faith and the everlasting force of hope. You can’t win That Dragon, Cancer, because Joel couldn’t beat the dragon, but it’s not a game you play to win. That Dragon, Cancer is raw, real and will leave you emotionally drained, but in a good way.
It would be amiss to make a list of artistic games without mentioning Monument Valley. Every level in this stunning game is a work of art in itself. The isometric Escher-inspired levels are intricately crafted and the music accompanying you on this magical adventure is equally otherworldly. The story doesn’t need a long explanation or much exposition to be a moving tale of self-discovery and forgiveness set in a beautiful world of impossible architecture.
Not quite a puzzle game, not quite a text-adventure and not quite a book. It’s difficult to describe Device 6, but that is exactly what makes it so brilliant. Device 6 is a unique game and it’s difficult to compare it to another game, or even a genre of games. The gameplay of the game mostly revolves around reading Anna’s journey through the surreal landscape, but this is not a normal book: the text in the book moves and shifts with Anna’s actions, having you scroll forward, scroll back to figure something out and turn the device to move the adventure forward. Device 6’s innovative gameplay and engrossing, twisting story make this unique game a work of art and a game that you shouldn’t hesitate to download if you enjoy literature in any way.
Every single one of these games is a work of art because of the use of gorgeous design, evocative music, poignant stories or unique gameplay. Feel like trying out one or more of these games and running low on ITunes credit? You can get your ITunes credit at Startselect quickly and digitally, so you can start to experience these wonderful games immediately.