We’re at a point where you don’t have to play to the strengths of the consoles or PC graphics cards to get great visual results. Developers have enough power to do whatever they want. For the “Most Beautiful” category in our GamesBeat Rewind year-end event, we want to consider any visual style to determine the best-looking release. And the past year has delivered some stunners whether you prefer something photo-realistic or something more stylized.

The Most Beautiful Game of 2017 is … Cuphead

Other finalists: Super Mario Odyssey, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Listen to us discuss this category in the audio version of the podcast right here:

In an alternate universe where Cuphead never existed, this was a much tougher choice. But Cuphead, the old-timey run-and-gun platform from StudioMDHR is so original and gorgeous that its win here felt inevitable.

If you somehow haven’t seen it, Cuphead looks like a cartoon from the early 20th century come to life. A team of artists have re-created the styles of Fleischer Studios and early Walt Disney through a series of mindblowing boss fights. What’s incredible about Cuphead, though, is that it is simultaneously an artistic masterpiece and a technical powerhouse.

Just about every person on Earth knows what an old cartoon is supposed to look like, and StudioMDHR somehow borrows those visual styles and is able to mimic them so accurately in real-time that my wife thought it was the real thing the first time she saw it. I love the look of games like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hellblade, and more, but Cuphead is one of those rare reminders of the amazing things games are capable of.