Graphics usually take the backseat for me in importance when judging the overall quality of a game. However, that doesn't mean they don't serve a genuine purpose when examining a game. When I judge the visuals of a game, I'm not looking for the most impressive pushing of polygons or pixels; I'm looking at the games that have a desirable art style and use that art style well. These five games fit that bill rather nicely to show what I mean.
5) The Last Guardian (PS4)
Like something out of a children's storybook, The Last Guardian's visuals present a gorgeous display that assists the world to being a character as much as Trico and its young boy keeper are. Trico itself never fails to make me gaze at the creature in awe, much like the detailed world that I also saw myself stopping every bit of the way to take in. Performance problems aside on the OG PlayStation 4, The Last Guardian's visuals ultimately delight and help establish a wondrous setting for a wondrous adventure.
4) Final Fantasy XV (PS4, XB1)
The developers of Final Fantasy usually show mastery in getting a lot of the hardware each entry is placed on. Despite being a less than desirable game, Final Fantasy XIII is a true beauty. With ten years of planning, development, and stumbling points, it didn't seem like Final Fantasy XV would turn out well, especially starting out on the PS3. However, not only is the game superb, but so are the visuals. From the huge draw distance showcasing jaw-dropping vistas and tremendous views to the immaculate character and enemy models (and how about those food dishes!), Final Fantasy XV is a visual showcase on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, giving it the four spot on this top five countdown.
3) Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)
Despite being weaker hardware compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the Wii U has shown many times that it can hang with the big boys, if not by visual fidelity then by style alone. Paper Mario: Color Splash is one such game that makes a case for how a game's art style can really bring out a healthy heaping of beauty. The paper characters look fantastic, and the environments made also of paper but also cardboard create a world that is both fun to explore and mighty pleasing to the eyes. Nintendo and Intelligent Systems may not have gone the desired direction with the gameplay, but visually, Paper Mario: Color Splash is a sight to behold.
2) Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
There are few games that make me do double-takes upon seeing the visuals. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is one such game. From the amazingly lifelike visuals, showing realistic human models that don't delve too deeply into the uncanny valley, immensely detailed backgrounds and environments, and special effects that boost the visual splendor to magnificent levels, Uncharted 4 is an amazing achievement visually. Naughty Dog's graphical team really nailed the look of the game and mastered the PS4 hardware, making it all the more exciting to see how The Last of Us 2 turns out.
1) Ratchet & Clank (PS4)
Ratchet & Clank is the PlayStation 4 game that most impressed me this year, especially seeing it played on the PS4 Pro. I'll always take a fantastical world and characters over realism any day, and Ratchet & Clank's colorful visual style checks that box well. The game looks like the film of the same name only in interactive form. The different planets are truly marvels to look at and engage in, and the character models exude personality, charm, and push plenty of polygons. These reasons alone put Ratchet & Clank as the game with the most pleasing visuals for SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2016 Awards.