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The situation

The game I'm working on has a 16-bit inspired art theme. It's consistency is relatively relaxed. (i.e. pixels don't have to line up.)

Since it has a slightly dark theme, I decided to light up only the surrounding area of the player. Though I'm town because I'm not sure which of the three methods are most appealing.

Method 1: Smooth lighting

I.e. a smooth gradient between the player and the surrounding area.

enter image description here

I fear it's smooth nature might feel off compared to the rest of the game's art,

Method 2: Pixelated lighting (without pixel alignment)

I.e. a pixelated gradient that doesn't necessarily have to line up with background tiles.

enter image description here

This is more in tune with the game's art, but it's lack of alignment is noticeable.

enter image description here

yellow lines are tile borders while teal lines are lighting borders

Method 3: Pixelated lighting (with pixel alignment)

Essentially the same as the previous method, except without the lack of alignment. This fits the game's art style well, but almost too well. I mean that in a way that the lighting is almost too pixelated.

Conclusion

Perhaps a combination of these methods is the most psycologically pleasing or maybe something completely differn't will fit the bill.

What are your guys' thoughts? / What have other games done in this situation?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Philipp, Engineer, Almo, DMGregory, Tyyppi_77 Aug 3 '17 at 17:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered dithering at the border between two light levels, so you can stick to pixel alignment and a low colour depth, but break up the big chunky stripes of light? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Aug 3 '17 at 12:45
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I would experiment having an ambient lighting zone, this way, you can keep the discovery feeling just like in Age of Empires 2. Once you have the ambient lighting, additional methods would blend in easier.

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