Best of 2016 – Day Seven: PS Vita, 3DS, Artistic Design, Technical Graphics

Over the next ten days, Hardcore Gamer will be revealing its Best of 2016 Awards leading up to our Game of the Year. Today we present you with the Best PS Vita Game, 3DS Game, Artistic Design and Technical Graphics.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

The PlayStation Vita may be the underdog in portable gaming, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing games on Sony’s handheld. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is not only this year’s best Vita game, but it is an essential title for any JRPG fan. It is a direct sequel to its predecessor, and choices made in the first game can be carried over to influence protagonist Rean’s relationship with the other characters. Trails of Cold Steel II places a huge emphasis on story telling and character development, making the personalities and relationships seem more authentic. The battles include traditional JRPG turn based combat with its own complex system for most party battles but also includes fights between giant mechs where Rean takes control of his Divine Knight Valimar. Even on the small screen the anime style graphics are beautiful. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is simply one of the best JRPGs to come out in recent years and a perfect example of how the Vita can deliver an extremely high quality gaming experience.

Runner-Ups
Zero Time Dilemma Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Dragon Quest Builders Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon

There will possibly never be a shortage of excitement when it comes to new Pokémon and the latest iteration of the series, Sun and Moon, does live up to hype that has been building for the past year. Players get placed in a brand new region filled with unique Pokémon to capture. In addition to that are a variety of interesting features such as Z-Moves, Alolan Forms and Ultra Beasts — all of which up the ante in terms of battle strategy and storyline. Pokémon Sun and Moon stands out even more with amazing advancements in graphics and design to immerse fans in such a wondrous world. This seventh generation of the Pokémon series is the perfect stepping stone for new fans to begin their journey as well as older fans who wish to pick it right back up.

Runner-Ups
Monster Hunter Generations Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past Fire Emblem Fates Bravely Second: End Layer

Owlboy

It isn’t exactly uncommon these days to see indie games with highly impressive pixel art. And 2016 had no shortage of impressive throwbacks to retro gaming in the art department, including Enter the Gungeon, Stardew Valley, and one of our runners-up here, Hyper Light Drifter. But Owlboy ended up not just being the most dazzling in terms of pixel art, but the most visually impressive game overall. The incredibly lush and detailed fantasy landscapes, eye-popping variety colors, and massive bosses alone would have secured it a potential win, but where Owlboy has the edge is in its character design and animation. Aside from a diverse cast with several folks that that are simultaneously both adorable and awesome, the expressions they have are some of the best seen in any game, big or small. Be it sorrow or cartoonish shock, each feeling is conveyed through some absolutely gorgeous faces and body language, and it acts as the cherry on top of a truly stunning, artistic masterpiece.

Runner-Ups
Samorost 3 Superhot The Witness Hyper Light Drifter

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Naughty Dog is a studio capable of pushing hardware to its limits. Uncharted 1-3 were some of the most beautiful games back in their day and The Last of Us stunned players despite being on the old (at the time) PS3. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is a stunningly beautiful game. Models are detailed to capture the nuance of an actual body, textures are stunningly realistic, and the worlds look almost lifelike. Every scene is jam-packed with little details that make Uncharted 4’s world feel like a living and breathing one. While Nathan Drake’s final adventure may not have the large open maps a game like Battlefield 1 may have, Naughty Dog leaves no space uncovered. The team has done it again, delivering another stunningly beautiful game.

Runner-Ups
Battlefield 1 Forza Horizon 3 DOOM Quantum Break

← Back to Day Six

Continue to Day Eight →