Your opinion on differing/clashing art styles within a game?

Would a huge difference in art quality/styles distract you or take you out of the experience during

  • Yes

  • No

  • Depends... (Please elaborate!)


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SailorRose

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This started out as a quick question on a status update, but it'll be better suited for a thread.

Here's the question: Does it bother you when there's multiple art styles within a single game? (RPG's, visual novels, or just games in general)

For me, personally, it depends. As long as everything meshes well together, it's fine, if the characters and backgrounds are made by two different artists but it all comes together nicely then there really isn't an issue.

But there was an instance of a game (I'd rather not disclose what game exactly), it was a dating sim, where the characters looked one way in their sprites and then their CG's were drawn by a completely different artist... And it was plain to see. It was pretty jarring, to say the least, as the sprites had a semi-realistic painting feeling to them while the CG's were cell-shaded anime. It took me out of the experience for a moment. Both styles I enjoyed, but they clashed pretty badly.

So, what are your thoughts? We know that graphics play a HUGE part in the overall gaming experience, so when the art isn't consistent... Does it take you out of the experience? Does it ruin the immersion? Or do you just not really mind it? Let's discuss!
 
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As long as everything meshes well together, it's fine, if the characters and backgrounds are made by two different artists but it all comes together nicely then there really isn't an issue.
If everything meshes well together then they aren't very different art styles, they must have elements in common wether it be the way shading is handled or something else like that.

I would say most of the games I see on these forums have clashing art (along with clashing UI, Fonts etc). I have long given up commenting on it. I know not everyone can do everything themselves for the ground up, but im super anal about visual consistency and I will generally be turned right off anything that doesnt have it (hell, even the built in RTP, UI and portrait system bugs me, if these elements used slightly pixelated art I dont think it would).
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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For me it really depends on how its used. Like if the different style is meant to emphasize something (Like I've seen games using 2D graphic for most enemies but bosses are 3D) its somehow okay with me. But if for example you have a forest, and your different trees use different styles, thats really hard to the eyes
 

Kes

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It's not just 'style' that can be a problem. One of the big reasons why things from different tile sets clash horribly is the difference in hue/saturation/brightness/etc. Even when they are roughly the same style this can look dreadful, and for me ruins what might otherwise be nice maps.

What I do is edit those things so that they harmonise.
 

Kuro DCupu

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What matter is the consistency. Like choosing only between harmony OR chaotic. No middle ground. If there's a single part that is out of order, your choice is to fix the order or mess the whole order as well. Otherwise it's distracting.
 

LaFlibuste

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Unless the different styles are used to convey something in the game (like maybe real world versus spirit world or whatever), then it would definitely distract me. Especially if used together in the same scene. I'd rather have all the art be lower quality but uniform than ecclectic. Unless it's placeholders for until you can get it all up to par, of course...
 

Deldel

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For me it depends on how well they mesh together and how they are used. For example, if the Title screen is really well done in a painted style and the game itself is in pixel art or cell shaded, I don't usually mind. But if, say, there's a cell shaded sprite alongside a pixel art sprite In game, that's a definite no no. Even sprites that have a different color picking technique bother me (for example two pixel art sprites, one where the artist just changed the value of the color for the dark part and an other one where the artist changed the value AND the hue for the darker parts). But that's just when they are used in tandem in tilesets or in-map sprites.

For Visual Novels, CGs are usually better drawn and more detailed. It does bother me when they are completely different tho, there should be enough similarities that you can easily guess that it's happening to this or that character, in this or that in-game place. A good rule of thumb to me is have them all draw in a similar style (anime, western cell shading, painterly), with the same color scheme. Even if there's a small style difference from the artist's touch, they'll mesh well enough together I think.
 

Wavelength

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It's distracting to me when the styles of like kind resources differ - for example, if there are two tilesets with completely different styles, or two enemy sprites with completely different styles - or even dialogue bust portraits being done in a different style than Status Screen portraits.

It doesn't really bother me when resources of different kinds have different styles - for example, cel-shaded characters running around a more realistic rendered environment can look really cool, and hyper-stylized or ornate UI elements can still look good over a more themed or realistic action scene.
 

VioletSpark

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A lot of it depends on the degree of clash.

For a VN, I don't mind if the CGs are different (as long as I can still tell who it's a picture of.). To me, those are like, side-pieces anyway, so if they're different styles it's only to be expected. What I don't like is when one character sprite is different from the others, or when the background styles aren't consistent (some photo, some watercolor)

I always think of FFV, where the portraits are completely dissimilar to the sprites. Like, I don't know if I could match the portraits to the sprites. It's not that the art style is different, that was okay. It's that the color schemes weren't even the same.

It's quite possible that artists and graphic designers notice clash more than writers etc. I couldn't say for certain.
 

Archeia

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It takes me away from the experience if it's like the extreme art clash in Fate/Grand Order or Octopath Traveler. But it doesn't bother me if it's like Yume Nikki which serves for the narrative. Visual Novels are alright for me. I don't get bothered by filtered background photographs surprisingly.
 

Vox Novus

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I'd say there is merit for some types of games where there is purpose in differing artstyles. It can be used to convey different concepts or sub-settings; an example of what I mean is something like what the .hack/sign anime did. Its an anime about people playing an mmorpg (if you haven't heard of it), and while it didn't use different art styles per-se it gets my point across I guess...Anyway the in-game segments are vibrant and colorful, seemingly filled with life; the real world segments are grainy and hazy, un-clear and as if seen through an old black and white tv or something. The contrasting visuals are used with a purpose in mind, in that case to show the disparity between how people are online and how real life is comparatively.

I think apart from that in most situations an extreme contrast in art styles could be jarring, generally it sort of brings you out of the game and kind of ruins the immersion of a complete experience.
 
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Sometimes different styles are needed to create contrast and control focus. Here's a sample I've been messing with for fun.

Notice the background on the right is a far closer match to the characters but also notice how they seam to get 'lost' in it. The other two while clearly different styles give better focus on the characters. Now, if the characters had flatter less detailed shading, the more detailed backgrounds would give better contrast.

I'd also note Disgaea, a game with 2D characters on 3D environments.

But ultimately its as @Wavelength says, its best to keep each resource type in one consistent style. i.e. One style for battlers, one for battlebacks, one for tile maps, one for charasets, etc. Though it helps if they aren't entirely out of place since realistic portraits would look out of place if everything else was cartoony; unless intentional.
 

cabfe

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(copy/pasting from the previous status update):

The title screen is often in a specific art style, usually more refined (and costly) than the rest of the game.

CGs and busts should at least let the player recognize the characters. Ideally in the same style, but CGs are special screens, so a different art style isn't too bad.

What wouldn't work is different art styles in one category (e.g. inconsistency in the busts shots).
 

HexMozart88

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It honestly does not bother me in the slightest if there's a difference between the portraits and the sprites, so long as it's similar enough appearance-wise for me to understand who's talking. The reasoning for this is because in games with tiny, pixelated sprites, I enjoy seeing a more "human", higher quality version of the characters. Regarding GUI, I don't think it really matters as long as it can compliment the character images you may or may not be putting there.
That in mind, too many styles going on at once is definitely distracting. Like, if the sprites are celshaded, the portraits are high-fantasy and the background is watercolour -- you may want to settle on just one thing. Also, it's good to keep in mind that if you plan on changing the art style when going to different parts of the game (which can be rather interesting), it's a good idea to change the art style of everything.
 

Dinamic Creates

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If you are having different styles on the same kind of images (like the character portraits), i.e. Fire Emblem Heroes... well...
It's uncomfortable to see.

However, if the thing of your game is having different styles on purpose (those, 8bit character evolves into 16 into 3D games), and everything around changes to it, well, probably I would'nt mind.
 

illyana

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It definitely bothers me if the art doesn't seem to fit. I loved the Aveyond series as a kid but I had so much trouble even finishing the latest games as the portraits were clearly drawn by different people and had huge gaps in quality. The difference in styles between two separate parts are fine but can feel out of place. World of Final Fantasy is an amazing game but 90% of it is in (really well done) 3D models and cut scenes but every now and then there would be a 2D animated piece that felt really jarring and unnecessary.
 

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