2021 TechRaptor Awards - Best Visual Design

Published: December 21, 2021 12:30 PM /


2021 techraptor awards best visual design

When it comes to graphics or simply just the art of any given game, there's an embarrassment of riches everywhere you look. The artistic talent of those that make games is off the charts, which our nominees exemplify in their own unique way. Here's our nominees and our winner of the Best Visual Design Award for outstanding, cohesive aesthetic.

Our nominees (all other award categories can be found here):

Readers' Choice Winner - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Developer: Insomniac Games | Release Date: June 11, 2021

The reboot won our overall award back in 2016, and the first look at Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart built on that aesthetic to deliver a signature game to usher in this new generation of consoles. It is gorgeous in every frame, made of worlds full of eye candy. With raytracing and the SSD killing off load times, this Rift Apart is one of the closest games to achieve that near perfect movie-like design.

Third Place - Deathloop


Developer: Arkane Studios | Release Date: September 14, 2021

Written By Austin Suther

Arkane has always excelled in its visual direction, and their latest is no exception. From the moment of its reveal, Deathloop always had an incredibly eye-catching style. It’s funky and groovy, colorful and psychedelic, even. 

The island of Blackreef’s multiple sections are designed to have personality and vibes that are completely different from the other. Updaam’s cityscape feels a bit like it pays homage to Dunwall from Dishonored with its many buildings and alleys; meanwhile, Fristad Rock is party central with its awesome Ramblin Rock Club taking center stage. 

The incredible achievement here is how Arkane manages to change each area depending on the time of day. As the snow rolls in, you’ll see visual changes in the environment, which never ceased to impress. Deathloop’s visual design is ambitious, but it certainly paid off.

Second Place - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

ratchet and clank rift apart

Developer: Insomniac Games | Release Date: June 11, 2021

Written By Andrew Otton

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a technical marvel, and the perfect game to introduce everyone to the potential of the current gen of consoles. The sheer variety of gorgeous worlds makes the game a nonstop delight, and there is a ton of detail to take in if you just want to stop and take in your surroundings.

Rift Apart is an adventure from beginning to end, and everything in its art and world design enhances the feeling that you're not just along for the ride but right in the thick of it with them. The game is just as amazing to look at close up as it is far away, not simply settling for beautiful backdrops or vistas. There's a tangible feeling to everywhere you explore, with its unique Ratchet & Clank flair to bring home some humor and personality. 

Without a doubt, Rift Apart is one of the most beautifully crafted games to date. The technical and artistic brilliance leaves behind one of those games that makes you excited for what's coming next in the industry. If things are this good now, what does the future hold?

Winner - Kena: Bridge of Spirits

kena bridge of spirits

Developer: Ember Lab | Release Date: September 21, 2021

Written By Dan Rockwood

From the first scene to the stunning finale, the visual design of Kena: Bridge of Spirits captivates the player as they explore enchanting locales. Kena is a game designed around the natural elements of the world as you interact with its wildlife, mystical creatures, and ever-changing terrain. Developer Ember Lab worked together with Vietnamese animation studio Sparx to create the art style and breathe life into this gorgeously colorful world. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits offers fun combat and light RPG elements, but it's the art direction of the world and characters that is the most striking. Whether it's the dozens of Rot companions that can follow you anywhere Kena goes, the beautifully rendered landscape of the humid forests and frigid mountains, or the particle effects that punctuate different attacks, every ounce of this game reflects award-winning visual design. 

Whether you play Kena: Bridge of Spirits on PS4, PS5, or PC, you'll be able to adjust visual fidelity settings to suit your preferred style. PlayStation consoles offer a 4K/30 FPS Fidelity Mode, or you can switch on Performance Mode for upscaled 4K resolution at 60 FPS. As expected, the PC version allows you to more closely fine-tune the graphical experience to best suit your machine. 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is one of the most beautifully designed games of the past year and offers a world that is incredibly fun to explore. Next time you boot up Kena, take a moment to pause and enjoy the scenery, as it's some of the best to come out of 2021.