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15 of The Best Pixel Art Games

Pixel art games always have a certain charm to them, one that is always hard to resist, be it in 16-bit or 8-bit. It’s incredible how detailed and expansive worlds can get even in pixel form. Video game pixel art graphics oftentimes invoke a retro and vintage feel to a game, even if it was just released. It is this nostalgic feeling that brings so much love when playing the best pixel art games.

With that being said, we’ve taken the liberty to compile some of the best pixel art-based games out there for your perusal. If you’re looking for your next obsession, we might have it right here!

Eastward

Eastward
Photo Credits: Pixpil

Eastward has a retro steampunk vibe to it set in a gritty yet somewhat colorful world. It’s not an experience you want to miss out on, as you set out on an adventure with two characters: a mute elderly man and a super energetic little girl as they explore a world outside of their community. 

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Its world is beautifully detailed with memorable side characters that you’ll meet along the way. The storyline itself is pretty interesting as you venture out of your home and into the outside world that was ravaged by an apocalyptic virus.

Gameplay uses a timing-based mechanic and your enemies will have a certain move set that you can avoid. The two characters are switchable as you go along, and there are plenty of encounters with monsters in the unknown world.

Terraria

Terraria
Photo Credits: Re-Logic

One of the most interesting pixel art games out there, Terraria may be an oldie, but it’s still a great delight to play. It’s a sandbox action-adventure where everything seems possible. You get to build your own home, defend it from monsters, collect items, and fight crazy bosses. Truly, some of the boss fights in Terraria are borderline soulslike in difficulty.

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It’s not the prettiest title, but few games could rival the endless possibilities of this game. It’s sort of like a more in-depth and grown-up version of Minecraft, as you get to explore, craft, build and mine in a world filled with all sorts of monsters. 

There’s even a multiplayer mode so you can gather some friends and play together, building an entire community.

Skul: The Hero Slayer

Skul: The Hero Slayer
Photo Credits: SouthPAW Games

A roguelike where you can switch your skulls for different skills sounds pretty cool, right? Skul: The Hero Slayer has five different areas and a ton of monsters trying to kill you as you proceed throughout the game.

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And since it’s a roguelike, failure would mean having to restart the whole process from scratch – which is frustrating, but Skul does it well. This roguelike is challenging enough that you have to strategize to get ahead and entertaining enough to retain your attention through its various skills and playstyles.

The music is almost as good as its gameplay and graphics.

Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter
Photo Credits: Heart Machine

The vibrant neon colors in this one are truly captivating. In this action-adventure RPG, you fill in the shoes of Drifter, as he journeys through the lands of Buried Time trying to overcome his illness.

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This is a vibrant world filled with secrets and everything takes some time to learn and get used to. It is equal parts calming and hectic as each moment is filled with something new for you to behold or fight. You’ll have some puzzles to solve and enemies to fight – it’s a game that challenges the different parts of your brain.

The game itself is void of any story or text except for tutorials, so you’ll have to interpret it however you like according to its changing environment. This makes it a rather personal journey as you include your perception into the game’s narrative.

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley
Photo Credits: ConcernedApe

There’s a reason why Stardew Valley is one of the best pixel art games and a favorite among millions of gamers. It’s a truly beautiful display of the art form. Everything looks cozy and feels homey in this world, and the change of seasons is always a sight to behold.

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There’s also a lot to do! You can choose to stick solely to your farm, but you’re bound to leave it for more things to do – fishing, mining, courting various love interests, foraging, fighting monsters, and more. It seems as though Stardew Valley is an endless mystery and world for you to live in.

It’s not a game you can easily tire from playing, and you’ll put in hours without realizing it. You can easily unwind with this gem as well.

We recently ranked all of the Stardew Valley love interests. Yes, pixel art game characters can find love too!

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Enter The Gungeon

Enter The Gungeon
Photo Credits: Dodge Roll

Looking for a game you can go in with guns blazing? Well, look no further my friend. Enter The Gungeon is a chaotic, difficult, and messy game for you to uncover on your own. It’s a bullet hell roguelike dungeon crawler, with randomly generated floors for you to get through.

Since it is a roguelike, you’ll have to start from the beginning if you get hit by a bullet – and although it sounds impossible to survive, that’s the challenge you’re gonna have to take up! It has a really rewarding loot system as thanks for all your trouble as well.

As each floor is randomly generated, the enemies, loot, and structure of it are randomized as well. You never know who you’ll encounter or where you’ll end up, but that’s part of the fun.

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Baba Is You

Baba Is You
Photo Credits: MP2 Games

A rather interesting take on puzzle games, Baba Is You takes the simplest forms of pixel art in its gameplay. You play as a little creature that tries to get past all the obstacles and challenges by completing the puzzles laid out in front of you. There’s no way around it.

You can manipulate the rules that work as playable objects to find a solution and escape the level. It may look simple, but it’s one of the most challenging puzzle games out there for you to lose your mind on.

Of course, it gets harder as you go along so don’t get too cocky! It’s cool to just sit back and think about your choices before you continue.

Coffee Talk

Coffee Talk
Photo Credits: Toge Productions

A visual novel with pixel-art graphics, Coffee Talk introduces some interesting characters looking for a listening ear and a hot cup of coffee to get by. In an alternate reality version of Seattle where humans and orcs live side by side, you get to dive into the lives of your coffee shop patrons.

Paying attention to each of their stories and details is important in this game to satisfy them and ensure that they return. It’s a pretty chill and interesting game to play if you’re the kind of person that enjoys listening to other people’s problems while discovering what goes on in their lives.

The narrative and storylines are intriguing, making you stick around even if the concept sounds like a task to endure. It’s like socializing through a fictional world with fictional characters, except they’re that they’re more interesting than your average human.

Katana Zero

Katana Zero
Photo Credits: Askiisoft

A cyberpunkish take on samurais does sound like a good concept. The neon-bright colors meshed together with synth-pop music holds the promise of a fun and wild adventure for you to get into in this intriguing pixel art game.

Katana Zero is a roguelike, and since you’re a katana-wielding character, it gets crazy. You’ll have to dodge and deflect bullets, and you can even do so by slowing time down. It does get stressful, especially when you take into account that one hit could instantly kill you and you’ll have to start from scratch again.

Practice makes perfect, and you will die a lot as you go through the game, but determination and strategizing are key to flawlessly getting through each level here.

Undertale

Undertale
Photo Credits: Toby Fox

A quirky world that spread to virality, Undertale is a must-play if you’re looking to get into pixel art games. It’s also a breeze to play through, with an intriguing storyline and mysteries all around. Sure, its boss battles can get pretty hard, but through repetition and save points, you’ll be just fine.

Its NPCs and the characters you meet along the way are what make the game so lovable. There are a lot of puns and bad jokes that turn out funny in this somewhat satirical game. You’ll journey through the underground world where monsters live in order to find your way out. 

Multiple endings are dependent on your choices in the game, and one of the best parts of the game is the fact that it remembers. It remembers all your previous playthroughs and choices each time you decide to start playing it again. 

Owlboy

Owlboy
Photo Credits: D-Pad Studio

In Owlboy, you get to play as an Owl that is also a boy in a beautifully detailed adventure platformer. As an owl boy, you can fly anywhere you want! As your home gets invaded by pirates, it is up to you to figure out a way to fight back with the friends you’ve made along the way.

The fighting mechanics are pretty interesting, as you depend on your friends to fight for you. You can pick them up and drop them in front of enemies. Each of the friends you make has different weapons and abilities, so you do need to strategize according to the enemy you’re facing.

There are also puzzles for you to solve, and a few mysteries for you to uncover about your own race! Honestly, Owlboy is worth playing even from its visuals alone. It truly does rely on some excellent video game pixel art.

Dead Cells

Dead Cells
Photo Credits: Motion Twin

A Metroidvania roguelike, Dead Cells allows you to take the body of a dead prisoner to escape the castle that you’re trapped in. Each level that you go through will grant you some permanent upgrades that make you stronger, but each level gets tougher as well.

The levels are procedurally generated and random, so you won’t know what you’re gonna get each time. Dead Cells has a permadeath mechanic just like most roguelikes, so you will have to start all over if you die. Its world is a gritty and dark place to be, but it just adds to the grim atmosphere of the game.

Your enemies can be predictable after a while since they have a certain set of moves to govern them, but you’ll just have to sacrifice a lot to find out.

Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight
Photo Credits: Yacht Club Games

A knight with a shovel is somewhat unconventional, but the concept works well in this beautiful 8-bit world. Its graphics may be adorable and reminiscent of pixel art video games from the 90s, but its gameplay can be brutal.

You take the place of a knight that fights with a shovel as you journey through the world on a mission to save the Shield Knight. Your weapon can be changed as you go along and unlock them as well. You’ll encounter all sorts of other knights and enemies along the way of your journey to spice things up.

Back in 2019, it was re-released with more campaigns and a multiplayer mode for more fun with friends so you can rope them into getting to know more pixel art games. You can unlock the world map after finishing the main quest, and the New Game Plus mode when you’ve completed the entire game.

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler
Photo Credits: Square Enix

Another JRPG from the ever famous Square Enix, we have Octopath Traveler where you get to follow the journey of eight separate characters and learn more about their various backgrounds and abilities.

Each character has their Path Action and abilities which will be a treat to figure out and understand. In the end, you’ll all come together to fight one ultimate evil and save the world as you know it. It’s interesting to see how each of the characters cross each others’ paths and how they’ll come to be together.

The game features a turn-based mechanic so your characters can attack based on their elemental abilities and weapons, even multiple times through boosted commands. 

A Short Hike

A Short Hike
Photo Credits: Adamgryu

If you’re looking for a peaceful world to dive into, A Short Hike is a good contender and on fo our favorite pixel games. You’ll take control of Claire, a bird in search of cellphone service which ends up involving a hike up Hawk Peak Trail.

The game has a very beautiful and detailed open-world environment that you can easily get lost in. It’s very much a relaxing and therapeutic game for those who need to escape away from the hustle of life.

In a way, Claire represents us with our current phone addictions and the lengths to which we would go to get connectivity. A Short Hike is a short trip, but a meaningful one as we unwind and uncover the world without the distractions of our phones. A lesson we could all use in our daily lives for sure.

Final Thoughts

We’re excited for more pixel art games to be released in the future! In the meantime, enjoy these video game pixel art creations because it’s truly amazing how transported we can still feel with 8-bit and 16-bit graphics.

Written by Sarah Paul

I dip my toes in all things nerdy. I started writing and never looked back! I'll write about anything under the sun if you give me the chance, but my loyalty currently lies with nerd culture.

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