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Abzû "We wanted to create an emotional narrative arc using rich visuals and sound alone to tell the story, and with that, create a connection to the foreign, often surreal ocean world that surrounds and connects all of us. We also wanted to capture the feeling of scuba diving without any of the standard trappings of equipment, gauges, or other simulation-style baggage by allowing the diver to move as freely and as gracefully as the abundant life that surrounds you. And we drew inspiration for all of that life directly from the life and environments in the ocean itself; there was never a need to look beyond reality to find the truly incredible." - Matt Nava, Creative Director and Co-Founder, Giant SquidGiant Squid
Forza Horizon 3
The Witcher 3
Uncharted 4
Mirror's Edge Catalyst With Mirror’s Edge Catalyst we set out to create a universe that felt recognizable but different, futuristic yet believable, an oppressed society that almost could be ours. With its pristine and minimalistic aesthetics, the team created something that became unique, distinct and bold. Something you’d never seen before. - Jhony Ljungstedt, Art Director, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Bound
Burly Men at Sea
Abzû "We wanted to create an emotional narrative arc using rich visuals and sound alone to tell the story, and with that
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The 10 Most Beautiful Video Games of 2016

Our list of the best looking games of 2016 isn't just a rundown of the year's most glamorous eye-poppers. Technical breakthroughs are one way of thinking about graphics in any art form, but too much of it and you risk siloing thinking.

Focusing on the rendering prowess of a game can, for instance, lead to overlooking the accomplishments of something deceptively simple looking, like Burly Men at Sea, Brain&Brain's folk-romp that uses visually minimalist pastels and geometric shapes to frame its charming vignettes.

Some on this list, like Giant Squid's Abzû or Plastic's Bound, immerse us in worlds brimming with kaleidoscopic colors and glittering alien geometry, while others, like Thekla's The Witness or EA DICE's Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, offer visions of otherworldly places that loosely resemble (and in the ways they differ, subtly comment on) aspects of our own.

After selecting games for this year's list, TIME asked each studio's art team to comment on their approach. You'll see those quotes in the captions accompanying each image.

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