Welcome back to the only annual box art round-up that attempts to explain why each image is successful from a design perspective. They say you shouldn’t judge a book (or movie, or videogame) by its cover, but that doesn’t keep us from doing it anyways. Not everyone keeps up with the daily videogame news and reviews, and for them a striking or intriguing image is the quickest way to get them to check out the back of the box – or to click for more information. A good cover will at least get someone to look into whether a game is good or bad, while a bad cover can cause a lot of people to completely overlook a good game.
Here are ten covers that are both stylish and attention-getting.
#9 Medal of Honor: Warfighter
Medal Of Honor: Warfighter is an example of what shooter box art should be…if only the game itself had been any good. I have a feeling that poor selling games with good box art is resulting in a belief among major publishers that a game will only be successful if it has a bland design with single generic standing character centered on the cover. Like Bioshock Infinite.
#8 Far Cry 3
#7 Doom 3
#6 Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
#4 Guild Wars 2
Regardless, the Brave poster makes for a good cover image. Merida is in an exciting prepared-for-action pose rather than just standing straight with arms at her sides. The color scheme is mostly cool colors, with the only warm colors being her hair and face, her hands, and the bow and arrow, in order to put emphasis on them. I also particularly like how the logo has been integrated into the background like an actual physical object, similar the cover of id and Bethesda’s Rage.
#2 Armored Core V
#1 The Walking Dead
On top of that, it’s a well-composed image. It’s “shot” at a low angle, which makes the image more dramatic. The zombie vertically stretches the entire height of the image (and more), which looks more dynamic than if his head was just below the logo. It also makes him appear to tower over the other two characters, symbolizing the imminent threat. And then the logo fits nicely into the remaining space in the sky. I think it would’ve added further visual depth and dynamicism if the logo had been taller, so that the man’s head overlapped it slightly, but that’s a minor thing.
Trying to tell a story in a single image is an extremely difficult thing to do, especially without words. People like Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Charles Addams (The Addams Family) were experts at this sort of thing, but its a skill few others have mastered. I’m not sure I’d necessarily say that The Walking Dead cover is on the same level as the work of those legends, but I consider it a successful image. I wish more covers would attempt this.
NEXT: The worst of 2012, the best alternate covers, and honorable mentions.