Looking back at my evolving portfolio of screenshots and video clips, it came to my attention that, beneath the mounds of gigabytes I had lost to them, I was actually glossing over a flipbook of sorts. Embedded within the piles of images, amazingly enough, was a story unravelling before my very eyes; key moments I had the pleasure of witnessing over the last however many years with the pad. Times embroidered with sadness and blissful instants nestled with power. It was all there, like one rollercoaster tale with all the bells and whistles needed to constitute a movie.
It’s fair to say that screenshots aren’t something we tend to think about when deeply invested in a plot. Instead, we just aim to live in the moment and experience the wonders the worlds have to offer us, without a second thumb hovering over a share button. But then, on the other hand, there are times when we can’t help but break the cycle and capture the event — if only to look back on once our journey has parted and all that remains is a case brimming with digital trophies. And, as far as these five instances go — I’d say screenshots were definitely needed to embellish the experience.
5. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted has never been shy on visually stunning backdrops, just the same as it’s never really resorted to putting all its eggs in one basket. Of course, exploration being one of the main parts of the series, it seems only natural for the scenery to be aesthetically pleasing. But boy, The Lost Legacy, despite being a spin-off from Drake’s explosive chapters, truly did harness some absolutely stunning landscapes over its short but sweet journey across India.
As time rolls on, The Lost Legacy begins to dedicate a set amount of time to pausing the action and allowing the player to just breathe. And, with the world around you looking like a million-dollar painting, capturing a flipbook of artsy screenshots seems like the only way to progress. However, with the amount there is to see and soak up, you can pretty much expect to see your share button mashed down to a paste before the curtain draws to signal the conclusion. And that’s okay.
4. Ghost of Tsushima
Sucker Punch pulled up one of the most invigorating settings we’ve ever seen last year, with real-life influences drawn from the Japanese island itself. And to be fair, there’s a reason why the game went on to win several awards for best art direction over 2020. Not only did Tsushima itself look aesthetically pleasing to the naked eye, but also the way the age of the Samurai was captured in video game form, with references that tailored to the Japanese literature.
The thing is with Ghost of Tsushima is that you don’t really need a goal in order to enjoy the world that breathes around you. Actually, you don’t even have to set a single foot out of line. Easily enough, you can sit cross-legged at one of the many hot springs and admire the wisps of the waters whirling over you. And if that’s not your thing, then you can always gallop endlessly into the sunset, grazing meadows and brushing cherry blossoms from your shoulder. Whatever it is you choose to do, Ghost of Tsushima does a flawless job at making everything (and I mean everything) look incredibly gratifying.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Because who doesn’t want a flashy screenshot of a superhero perched over an iconic city landmark, right? Of course, having New York in the palm of your hand and an endless pipeline of ways to explore it, having to pick just one ideal spot for a screenshot doesn’t come easily. But then, even if you plonk Spidey in a back alley with a torn fabric suit, you’ll still likely get some fantastic shots. And, thanks to the game featuring a photo mode with plenty of effects to slide through, even the mediocre shots can deliver a certain wow factor.
Similar to most recent games with a photo mode, having the ability to shuffle through actions and filters can prove to be quite beneficial. Truth be told, with wallpapers and theme prices flailing through the roof these days, it’s always great to have our own private stash of screenshots to use without forking over a penny. And as far as Marvel‘s Spider-Man goes — they’re not exactly in short supply — especially with The Big Apple employing a boatload of beautiful scenery and prominent landmarks to cram into the lens.
2. Horizon Zero Dawn
Despite Horizon Zero Dawn flying under the radar for the best part of six months, fans were definitely adamant about sharing the beauty that Guerrilla Games captured over its lengthy tale across land, sea and sky. Luckily, after Zero Dawn did acquire a foothold in the community, both players and showrunners were soon rolling out the honours and accolades for the mind-bending environment the game sprung to life. From there, the visions evolved and the snowball developed, finally giving Aloy and her homeland the attention it rightfully deserved.
Horizon Zero Dawn sends you across all types of terrain, with almost every nook and cranny presenting itself as an obstacle worthy of overcoming. Whether you’re climbing the highest peak of Mother’s Heart or scrubbing through the luscious green grasslands of The Jewel, Zero Dawn gives you enough variety and the tools needed to traverse to your heart’s content. And as far as taking a few screenshots along the way goes, well — let’s just say you won’t be running short on picturesque backdrops to frame your subject. Plus, Aloy makes for an outstanding focal point. But that’s just my opinion.
1. God of War
To be honest, I never really knew how much I needed a picture of Kratos smirking into the face of his enemy until I finally stumbled upon God of War’s expansive photo mode. In fact, I didn’t know I needed a lot of things that God of War rolled out until I finally got my hands on them. That being said, being able to contort the ruthless antihero to any pose I wanted definitely proved to be the quirk I fell back on over the thirty hours quest across Midgard.
Reels of adjustable emotions aside, God of War presented one heck of a backdrop for its compelling story arc, with vast landscapes that dared to be both death-defying and exceptionally inviting. From mountaintops shrouded in smoke and ash to mist-riddled crevices flooded with wandering souls, wholesome woodlands brimming with bewitched creatures to forbidden temples radiating secrets and lore — God of War had the lot. And it’s because of the range that Santa Monica Studio aimed for, that I’m more than prepared to gift wrap the gold for Kratos and the beauty that Midgard enveloped.