Cel-shading is one of the most interesting—and most controversial—ways to present a game's graphics. Done right, it can give the entire production the feel of a comic book. Done wrong, it can just be comical. Here are ten games that use the technique to great effect.
Thanks to cel-shading, Borderlands feels like Fallout 3 on crack. You take control of one of several darkly violent comic-book characters and proceed to go on a disturbing adventure through a post-apocalyptic world. There are a few things about Borderlands I wouldn't mind seeing changed for the sequel, but the visual style is not one of them.
Catherine is a weird, mature-themed puzzle game whose odd presentation depends on cel-shading. In an era when so many games are alien-killing first-person shooters, it's nice to see a game as risky and different-looking as Catherine. Here's to hoping that it sells well, so as to ensure there's another game like it in the near future.
The Grand Theft Auto series used realistic graphics for its fourth numbered entry, but for this handheld title, Rockstar went back to the franchise's simple, top-down roots. Most likely, cel-shading seemed like a way to give the game a unique look while also saving space on the DS cartridge. It worked like a charm. From the goofily clumsy cutscenes to the in-game animations, Chinatown Wars felt like a mini version of its bigger console brothers—which may look more realistic, but aren't any less cartoonish in a lot of ways.
There's no better way to present superheroes than cel-shading. Period.
This adventure game didn't sell well, but it got great reviews, especially thanks to its unique and compelling look; the developers used cel-shading to give the feel of a watercolor painting. Interestingly, cel-shading wasn't the developers' first choice—the PS2 wasn't powerful enough to render the game as they originally envisioned it, so they went with something simpler. The change worked just fine. Arguably, it was for the better.