Character Design, Where we at?

I've been playing around with proportion and simplicity. Trying to find something interesting and unique. I know for I want simple colors, and by that I mean use colors from a color palette and no gradients in texture, or no "texture" at all. Objects can have 1 color per part, and value changes with in that as needed. Meaning lighten the top of the belt with a highlight of the same color.

I started off with the simplest of simple. I loved having no feet, and detached hands. It makes a lot of things easier, and I like the simplification. This is whats currently in the game:

The simple 4 blocks turned into the main character, who I derived from that to make the zombie enemies and the skeleton on the end. I knew they wouldn't remain that way so I played with color and just kept it loose to move forward with designing the game.

But I felt like it was too simple and too cartoony. I asked myself what kind of style would represent me? Is this it? I don't think so. Its just a little too simple. I'm not sure the big head cartoony was me. I always liked a cartoon, anime, comic book style. (I know all those are very different) but meaning I liked simplifications of characters.

Well the question of what style lead me to ask some more questions. Like if the body was bigger so we can see the outfits a little more how would that look? I actually kept the arms detached but then when I made the small legs, it started to make less and less sense that the arms were floating detached. So I simply added the remaining arm piece to attach them and with a lot of testing got to this point.

The game is is a "top town" but with a good amount of angle on it so the in game would look more like this:

Now the blocky heads are not as strong a motif as they were before. Now the arms seems kinda crazy big, but I still liked it enough to keep exploring, but its not "there". I sent it to my friend who said, "I like it. Everyone seems just a bit wide in the body though. Maybe bring it in by 10-20%? Maybe its not the width but the depth? It's close, but I think it needs just a little tweaking. I know its the style you are going for, but it just seems a bit too exaggerated. They seem a bit stiff, but that is probably just their pose. I'd like to see some animations." I agreed. I had an idea for animation but I thought I'll push the design first.

I took the main character, and game him legs. Full on, but small legs. Refined the hands and re did the face to be more of a rounded cube. I kept the "Mini Gore" mouths but I'm not convinced that it works. I don't plan on having mouth animations in game. And its not very visible from the camera angle. Anyway that got me here:

I took that and brought it into Mixamo to just test it with animation. And maybe its the motion capture data but I felt like am I going in the right direction? I'm not so sure. Time to make this blog post and send it to another friend who's a concept artist. See what he thinks. :D (I actually made this post instead of putting it all into an email and sending it to him)

UPDATE 02/24/18: I continued to work on the proportions, studying a lot of Disney, not that it matters, but trying a lot of new directions that didn't work. Went back to what I had and tried to find what it is I was feeling. Eventually I got here:

...and I'm happy with it. You can see a lot of influences from previous designs, and I think it merges them well.