10 Best Monochromatic Games, Ranked by Metacritic

In art, the term “monochromatic” refers to something that contains only one hue, which is made up of all the tints, tones and shades of that hue. For example, the hue of a monochromatic image can be red, and lighter hues of red to white, darker shades of red to black, and mixed tones of red to gray can all contribute.

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While most classic titles were forced to use monochrome colors due to hardware limitations, many modern games make deliberate use of the art style. Among these beautiful titles, here are the best according to Metacritic.

ten Horror World – 80

World of Horror video game title screen.

Designed like the PC adventure games of the 80s and inspired by the works of Junji Ito and HP Lovecraft, horror world is a survival horror roguelike RPG released in early access in 2020. In the seaside town of Shiokawa, Japan, eldritch gods have awakened and the world is slowly succumbing to various nightmares born in their wake. As one of five unique characters, the player must solve the supernatural mysteries of the region and try to prevent the apocalypse.

Throughout the game, players will have to make tough choices and fight in challenging turn-based battles, and each singular mystery has multiple endings. Unlike most RPGs where a full game is enough, the different characters, multiple gods to choose from, and roguelike gameplay give this experience great replay value.

9 Echochrome – 81

A screenshot of the PS3 version of the game Echochrome

Released in 2008 on PSP and PS3, echochrome is a puzzle game where the player controls a wooden artist mannequin as it traverses over 50 levels of impossible geometry inspired by the works of Oscar Reutersvärd and MC Escher. The goal of each level is to collect all the dark “echoes”.

To pass through impossible geometry, the game uses the object location environment coordinate system, which means that the existence of objects in virtual space is determined by the perspective of the camera. For example, if there is a gap between two catwalks, the player can move the camera so that a piece of the environment obscures the gap, and the gap will no longer exist until it is obscured. Besides a PS3 sequel, this game had a great PSP spin-off called Echoshift.


8 Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition – 81

A screenshot from the video game Aviary Attorney

Inspired by the popular visual novel series Ace lawyer, aviary lawyer is a 2015 legal drama adventure game set in an alternate reality of Paris, France in 1848, inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. As corruption continues to spread, the game follows a kind-hearted defense attorney named Jayjay Falcon who fights for justice alongside his apprentice Sparrowson.

To help clients receive a “not guilty” verdict, the two find evidence, interview witnesses, visit crime scenes and cross-examine in the courtroom. Unlike the ace lawyer series, players only have a certain amount of time to investigate a case, and it is possible to accidentally miss important evidence. With art by French cartoonist JJ Grandville and music by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, the game has a unique vibe not found in any other game.

7 Hidden People – 83

A screenshot from the game Hidden Folks

Nominated for several awards and similar to Where is Waldo franchise, hidden people is a 2017 hidden object game where the player has to find various people and objects in 32 detailed and unique environments. All areas are animated and players may have to interact with the world to find the person or item they are looking for.

The art of the game is completely hand-drawn and all sounds come from the mouths of the two developers. Since the people and objects the player has to find are randomly chosen at the start of the level, players have a reason to keep playing even after going through all 32 levels.

6 The end is near – 84

A screenshot from the game The End is Nigh

Developed by Edmund McMillen, who is best known for notoriously difficult games The Binding of Isaac and Super meat boy, and Tyler Glaiel, who is best known for the puzzle-platformer Closing, the end is near is an action-adventure platformer about a little blob named Ash who is the sole survivor of the apocalypse. After his favorite game cartridge breaks, Ash embarks on a quest to make a new friend.

As the player traverses over 600 brutal screens filled with traps and enemies, Ash finds the coins that can be used to make a friend. With two endings, many secrets, and plenty of collectibles, players will find it hard to put this game down.

5 West of Hatred – 87

A screenshot from the game West of Loathing

Set in the same universe as the 2003 multiplayer browser RPG Kingdom of hate, west of hate is a 2017 single-player comedy RPG with a fantasy western setting. After customizing his character, the protagonist begins the story by leaving his family farm to go on an adventure.

While the art style makes the game initially simple, it’s actually extremely in-depth with a vast world to explore, an interesting turn-based combat system, and thousands of lines filled with hilarious dialogue. Although the player may start the game thinking that he will only play a little, he will be sucked in by the many quests and well-written dialogues.

4 Super Hexagon – 88

A screenshot from the game Super Hexagon

Created by Terry Cavanagh, who is best known for developing many unique games such as Don’t look back, VVVVVV, and risky dungeons, Super Hexagon is a 2012 fast-paced action game where the player controls a small triangle in the center of a monochrome hexagon. The object of the game is for the player to simply survive as long as they can by moving the triangle around to avoid the oncoming walls.

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But, this simple game requires fast reaction time as the wall movement increases exponentially over time. To make matters more difficult, the screen is constantly spinning, changing to different monochromatic hues, and playing a catchy soundtrack.

3 The return of the Obra Dinn – 89

Created by Lucas Pope, who also developed the award-winning game papers please, The return of the Obra Dinn is a puzzle adventure game set in 1807 and follows an insurance inspector in the London office of the East India Company. After disappearing five years prior, the merchant ship Obra Dinn has mysteriously reappeared with its sails destroyed and none of its crew, and the Inspector must figure out what happened to each of them.

With a pixelated monochrome aesthetic inspired by early Macintosh games, the game invites the player to explore the ghost ship and uncover the mystery of what happened to each individual on board. Using a magical pocket watch called “Memento Mortem”, the player is able to time travel to the moment of death of any found corpse.

2 LIMBO – 90

A silhouetted boy confronts a giant wolf.

Before developing the award-winning 2016 game INSIDE, indie studio Playdead previously created a critically acclaimed horror puzzle platformer in 2010 titled LIMBO. In this game, players control an unnamed boy as he searches for his sister in a purgatory-like world known as LIMBO.

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After waking up in a forest, the boy immediately takes his journey through numerous puzzles that use the dark grayscale art style to hide traps. Apart from environmental hazards, the player also has to deal with many dangerous creatures such as giant spiders and parasitic glowworms.

1 Backlight – 93

A screenshot of the game Contre Jour

Released in 2011, Backlight is a physics-based puzzle game that follows a little blob named Petit, which refers to the beloved French short story The little Prince. As Petit cannot move on his own, the player must manipulate the environment of each level of the game in order to move Petit from one end of the screen to the other.

The term “Backlight” is a photographic technique where the camera faces a light source directly, making any person or thing appearing in the shot a dark silhouette. This technique matches the game’s black-and-white aesthetic, and the gorgeous art and smooth gameplay pair perfectly with the soothing piano background soundtrack composed by famed American musician David Ari Leon.

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