Can video games be considered in the same way as paintings or literary classics? This long-running debate has yet to be settled. In recent years, however, more than enough gaming masterpieces have solidified the medium as an art form. With their striking graphics and inventive narratives, video games have undeniably evolved into a unique form of artistic expression – rather than mere entertaining enterprises. Several titles even derive their design inspiration from famous artists and centuries-old artistic traditions. If you’re an art lover, here are some video games worth marveling at.


When Fumito Ueda released Ico in 2001, he was far from imagining the impact that this action-adventure title would have on the gaming sphere. Little did Team Ico know that their minimalist puzzle platformer would reach cult status and be consistently brought up when discussing the artistic merit of video games. Ico garnered acclaim for its original story elements and gameplay, but this three-dimensional platform game stunned critics the most for its captivating art style.

Drawing inspiration from the works of Italian surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico, the game’s Japanese and European box art mirrored Chirico’s famous The Nostalgia of the Infinite painting, while its title itself subtly honors the Italian master of metaphysical art. Ico’s simple yet ingenious visual design, including its visionary bloom lighting effect, influenced blockbusters such as Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.


Conjuring up the golden age of Hollywood animation, Cuphead is a creative run-and-game that evokes early Disney films of the 1930s. All in-game assets have been meticulously hand-drawn in a gorgeous yet deliberately imperfect cartoonish style, whose detailed watercolor backdrops give an even more distinctive look to every level, where players encounter a variety of casino-themed bosses on their way to settling a debt with its devilish owner.


While this challenging boss battler goes hard on its vintage 1930s aesthetics, it also channels the musical flair of the era. Performed by a full jazz ensemble, the game’s soundtrack is pure musical brilliance. Cuphead also made history in music circles, becoming the first gaming soundtrack to ever top the Billboard Jazz Charts.


Crafted by Clover Studio, Ōkami dropped in 2006 to critical acclaim. Critics lauded the game’s whimsical visuals, heavily influenced by the traditional Japanese ukiyo-e art style. Ukiyo-e, which translates poetically as “pictures of the floating world,” thrived in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries. These woodblock prints mostly celebrated Japanese landscapes, aspects of daily life, and folk tales.

Given its focus on Japanese folklore and mythology, as this action-adventure puts players in the role of the Shinto goddess Amaterasu turned white wolf to save a decaying world from engulfing darkness, it was only fitting for Ōkami to look toward renowned artists like Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai for inspiration. The game also pays homage to traditional Japanese calligraphy through the Celestial brush feature, reminiscent of Sumi-e brush painting.

Raji: An Ancient Epic

The debut game from Indian studio Nodding Heads Games, Raji: An Ancient Epic, follows the journey of an orphaned circus performer chosen by the gods to rescue her younger brother from the clutches of the demon lord Mahabalasura. Accompanied by the divine guidance of goddess Durga and lord Vishnu, Raji navigates mystical realms modeled after medieval Rajasthan. With its vivid design inspired by Pahari paintings, this action-adventure title is a vibrant reinterpretation of ancient epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which catches the eye with every frame.


Arguably, this indie gem reignited interest in Hindu myths and legends worldwide. Even the iGaming sector jumped on that bandwagon, developing slot machines inspired by Indian mythology, such as Funta Gaming’s Ramayana. Thousands more free slots are a click away on top-tier platforms. Such free options are available 24/7, with no download required. From video slots to free machines with infinity reels, every game is mobile-friendly for players to hit spin on the go. Users may also reel in some cash with real money slots like progressive jackpot games.

Whether video games are high art may be up for debate, but there is no denying the artistic value of the titles above. Meanwhile, technological advances allow games to be more and more stunning to look at. Bounded solely by their imagination, game creators keep pushing artistic boundaries further. Before long, who’s to say video games won’t be the standard by which all other art forms are judged and appraised?