Can you give examples of gritty serious games whose art style you enjoy, as well as cutesy colorful ones?
Does Zelda Twilight Princess count as gritty and serious? Despite my misgivings about it, the art direction of the twilight realm enemies, wolf link, midna, and the palettes used across the game were pretty great.
Shadow of the Colossus is also pretty great all around for art direction of the Colossi, Wander, Mono, and many of the structures in the environment (as well as the larger landmasses, though they can be pretty ugly up close.)
Metroid Prime has one of the best art directions of any game, which is part of why the graphics have held up so long, mostly thanks to Andrew Jones. Even the shapes used to construct the environmental structures are extremely identifiable to this day.
MGS has always had a solid art direction. I think MGS1 had the most distinct visual style though. Shadow Moses has extremely iconic areas all throughout, and snake’s design is great too. Plus the bosses.
Deus Ex Human Revolution really nailed the future aesthetic, and I think its hallways and doors are generally really identifiable. The guns stand out too, as well as the particular musculature of the augments, the way they look like kevlar muscles essentially.
Bioshock was solidly put together too, art deco was a great pick for it.
Legacy of Kain has good character design, and that’s about it.
Remember Me had a solid artistic direction in a lot of ways, even if it was a really boring game overall.
For cutesy stuff, Touhou has laughably horrible drawings, but I guess the designs themselves are pretty good, they look nice when drawn by practically anyone else.
The Wind Waker look was certainly inspired.
I like Platinum in Blazblue even if I’m not a big fan of the art direction overall.
Darkstalkers was pretty much a masterpiece.
Ghost Trick was cool as well.
Guilty Gear Xrd is so cartoony it’s practically on the cutesy side, especially for May, elphelt and ramlethal (when’s bridget?)
Jet Set Radio is pretty great.
The new Kid Icarus did a great job reinventing the style of the original game.
Kirby’s had solid art direction and spriting in a number of their games. The enemy designs are great too. Especially love Canvas Curse.
Megaman Classic designs are a favorite for me. (Though I think Zero/ZX really revolutionized it)
Loved the Splatoon designs since I first saw them. Lots of spunk, but very cute and I love spats.
Skullgirls has a distinct visual style and great animation all around.
The World Ends with You has a nice style for itself, drawing from graffiti and the modern vector look with nice costume design.
And that’s all I got right now.