Metroidvania games have a great history on handhelds, so it's fitting that Axiom Verge made its way onto PlayStation Vita. Tom Happ's love letter to the genre might suffer from a few technical limitations on the less powerful system, but it's still a rousing good time on the go. It's worth checking out if you missed it last year.
Crypt of the Necrodancer is a perfect fit for the Vita. Brace Yourself Games' roguelike rhythm game is a refreshing blend of two genres that surprisingly go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. It's challenging, addictive, and I've spent way too much time listening to the game's five different soundtracks.
LucasArts' classic adventure game Day of the Tentacle got the remaster treatment earlier this year, and it was great. Both Tim Schafer & Dave Grossman worked on the project, and made sure that the new version of the game did the original justice. Boy, did it ever. Sporting gorgeous new visuals, great developer commentary, and the ability to play the 1993 classic, it's the best adventure game that can be played on the Vita.
It's normal to be worried when a game is being made with a licensed property you hold dear to your heart, but luckily Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ended up being a good one. This role-playing game features all of the digital monsters that fans have come to know and love, and wraps them up in a surprisingly good mystery. It's a pretty lengthy RPG, but it's worth playing (even if it doesn't pose much of a challenge).
MonoChro's Grand Kingdom could easily be confused for a Vanillaware developed title, so it's only fitting that the director is Tomohiko Deguchi. Deguchi previously directed the PSP RPG Grand Knights History, and Grand Kingdom is largely a spiritual successor to it. It features a heavy emphasis on online play, which is a rarity for the genre, and is just as good on Vita as it is on consoles.
DrinkBox Studios have already released two great titles for the PlayStation Vita (Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack and Guacamelee!), so it was only fitting that they would end up creating one of the system's last great games in Severed. The game, which is currently only available on Vita, builds upon the touch-based combat made popular by Infinity Blade and combines it with solid dungeon crawling & gorgeous visuals. Most impressive is the enemy design, which turns every encounter into a unique puzzle that the player has to solve not unlike Undertale.
The best 3DS game of 2015 is now even prettier on PlayStation 4 and Vita. Image & Form's SteamWorld Heist HD is one of the most impressive turn-based strategy games in quite some time. What makes it really special is how attacks rely not on dice rolls, but purely on player skill. Gamers need to line up the shots they take, and whether or not they are successful is entirely on them. It's thrilling, and one of the best games on both systems.
Mike Bithell's Volume isn't what anyone expected the Thomas Was Alone developer to do next, but thankfully it paid off. The gorgeous stealth game is an homage to Metal Gear Solid, and is just as fun to play on Vita as it is on PS4.
XCOM was one of the PlayStation 3's best games, and luckily for portable gamers it was ported to Vita earlier this year. XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus allows gamers to experience Firaxis Games' brilliant reboot on the go, and it's wonderful. If you haven't played the original, check it out and get ready for XCOM 2, which comes to PS4 later this year.
One of the greatest gaming trilogies of all time came to a close in the first half of 2016. The final chapter of Zero Escape, titled Zero Time Dilemma, was a fitting end to a journey that began with the cult DS hit 999. All of the loose ends that were brought on by Virtue's Last Reward are wrapped up nicely here, and it's one of the most satisfying stories in all of gaming.