10 Great Video Games That Are Ugly On Purpose

8. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days

Kane & Lynch 2
Square Enix

While the original Kane & Lynch wasn't exactly a paragon of aesthetically appealing craftsmanship, sequel Dog Days saw developers IO Interactive make a concerted effort to ugly-up basically every aspect of the series' visual style.

Kane & Lynch 2 is designed to resemble the aesthetic of carnage captured on a '90s camcorder, complete with potentially nauseating shaky camerawork and intentionally garish colour contrast, where the darks are crushed into oblivion and the lights are blindingly bright.

The game's image also regularly pixelates and distorts as though we're watching an illicit streaming video we shouldn't be, all of this working in stark opposition to the original's more conventional style.

And yet, it totally works in accentuating the oppressive, nihilistic vibe the developers were shooting for, transcending mere visual scuzziness to become basically experimental.

The game's art director, Rasmus Poulsen, even took a camcorder to Shanghai to capture reference materials for the desired aesthetic, and went on to dub Kane & Lynch 2 an "anti-game" - a rebuke to all the flippantly violent shooters on the market.

While it's far from perfect mechanically, Kane & Lynch 2 dares to go to uncomfortable places that most games wouldn't dare, shoving the grossness of wanton violence in the player's face and asking them if they're still having fun.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.