It’s hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Having a game that looks great is one solution, but there are a lot of titles with striking 3D art and realistic animation. Trying to get ahead by having even more realistic visuals than one’s competitors is a painfully expensive strategy, even if it works.
Better instead, I would submit, to have distinctive visuals. Using good design and a sense of style, you can set your game apart.
Duelyst has relatively low-res sprite art; the lower resolution allows for lots of animation.