I'm writing a text and there is a part of it that's making me uneasy. I'm talking about gameworlds with unique art styles as opposed to worlds that look realistic. Do you think the word unique-looking would fit better than "worlds that look unique" here?

"And ultimately, what makes video games great to look at is the creative drive that is necessary in order to craft unique-looking worlds, not only worlds that tend to look like ours."

"...in order to craft unique-looking worlds..." or "in order to craft worlds that look unique..."?

3 Answers 3


The difference between the two is primarily a matter of emphasis. The final word of a sentence or phrase tends to stay in the reader's memory for longer, so gives a little more weight.

In this case, if you want to emphasize that you're talking about worlds, "unique-looking worlds" is better. If you'd prefer to emphasize the uniqueness, "worlds that look unique" achieves that more. In case you really have no preference, the former is shorter so should probably be preferred, all other things being equal.

Because this is the end of a phrase, it is less important than the end of a sentence; the end of a paragraph or section would be even more important.


‘Unique-looking’ is potentially ambiguous, does it mean ‘looking as if they are unique (in some unidentified way)’ or ‘having unique visual presentation’. Since ‘unique looking’ also has a ‘clunky’ quality, it may be better to look for a phrase which is less ambiguous. If what you want to convey is that the art style is unique, try something like ‘visually unique’.


Personally I would reconsider the use of the word unique at all as it is often over-used and can be ambiguous if you aren't careful.

For example individual finger prints or snowflakes are unique but aren't particularly distinctive. In a games design context in particular this could ambiguous say between something like creating a proceduraly generated scene from standard elements as opposed to an overall art style.

Many people would argue that a design can look great without being particularly original.

In some ways the fundamental issue may be that you need to be clearer about what you actually mean. For me unique seems a bit hollow in this context.

I suspect that what you are really trying to convey is more about visual distinctiveness and originality and I don't think the phrase 'looking unique' really does that adequately. Without getting too deep into art jargon you could perhaps talk about a 'unique visual language' or 'distinctive design style.

Generally speaking 'unique' isn't a very useful adjective on its own and needs to be carefully qualified to be really meaningful.

For example 'a unique reference number' is meaningful, 'a unique personality' isn't so much.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.