September 27, 2021

POSTED BY

Jack Gordon

CATEGORY

The Unique Art Style of Zero Escape

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward In the world of video games, visual novels are known mostly for their art style. Most visual novels have remarkably similar art styles: clean line art with smooth colors and crisp cell shading. However, one game sticks out from the rest to me, and that is “Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.” These are the first two games in …

Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

In the world of video games, visual novels are known mostly for their art style. Most visual novels have remarkably similar art styles: clean line art with smooth colors and crisp cell shading. However, one game sticks out from the rest to me, and that is “Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.” These are the first two games in the Zero Escape trilogy, but the art style for the key visuals is unique in its own way. 

Starting with the coloring, The Nonary Games has a rough style of base colors. The game was released in the early 2010s, which is most likely the reason for this. The clean coloring of most visual novels didn’t come about until around the mid-2010s. The characters are composed of slightly unsaturated colors, which would be deterring if it were not for the exceptional shading. 

Take the character sprite for Santa from Zero Escape 999, for example. The colors are nothing special, just black and white, but the shading gives life to not only the clothing but the skin and the hair too. The highlights and shadows on the hair give it much more depth than cell shading could, and makes it stand out from his clothing. The scarf and the gloves are not very detailed in terms of base color either, but the shadows of the folds blend in nicely with the rest of the fabric, giving it a nice realistic touch, Finally, the shirt is extremely detailed in its shading compared to other visual novels. Normally, there are a medium number of folds in the clothing of visual novels just so it does not look flat, but Zero Escape takes it a step beyond that and creates wrinkles all over the cloth to give it dimension. Also, the blending of the shadows creates an image of where the light is coming from. With cell shading, the end of the shadows is abrupt, and it looks like the light is hitting them from head-on and all around, only creating shadows near the folds of the clothing. But in this art, the shadows blend out and are placed in many other areas other than the folds created by line art.

Santa (Bottom Left)

Zero Escape has been a huge inspiration to me, not only for art but for my story creation as well. This is one of my favorite games of all time and I suggest doing a bit of digging into what it’s about and maybe play it for yourself too. 

Illustrations by Kinu Nishimura