Our take on the indie games nominated for the IGF 2023 Awards

Every year in March, the Independent Games Festival celebrates the best indie games of the last twelve months. It’s one of the few celebrations where smaller games, made by smaller teams, aren’t overshadowed by massive blockbusters. And it always serves both as a great reminder of what’s been released and a way to highlight some of the excellent stuff we all may have missed.

With the nominations for this year’s IGF Awards being announced this year – it’s its 25th year, believe it or not – I thought I’d take the opportunity to wrap up our coverage of the nominees and recap. The IGF Awards will be and will be held on March 22nd at 6.30pm Pacific Time (March 23rd at 2.30am UK Time). streamed on Twitch.

So let’s start with the Biggie, the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. The nominees are Tunic, Immortality, The Case of the Golden Idol, Neon White and Not for Broadcast. I’ll discuss them game by game.

tunic needs little introduction. This Zelda-like treat was awarded an Essential by Eurogamer and took second place in our Game of the Year 2022 picks. “This is a game to enjoy,” wrote Christian Donlan in this GOTY post. “Odd, familiar, intricate and built with love.” Tunic is available on pretty much every platform if you haven’t played it yet.

immortality had caused similar excitement last year. It’s the latest game from Sam Barlow, creator of Her Story and Telling Lies, and it follows the same FMV investigation format. This time, however, it’s about Hollywood and the investigation of a woman, picking clues from movie clips and behind-the-scenes footage she was in or was involved in. Chris Tapsell really liked it, calling the game a “sophisticated, genius puzzler” in his Immortality review. It’s available on PC and Xbox (also on Game Pass) and on Netflix Games (accessible via Android or iOS).

Ian plays tunic while wearing a tunic. Okay, I made up the last part; one can only dream.

The case of the golden idol is less known. It’s a detective game set in a fictional 18th-century England, drawn in caricature and pixelated. The attraction is having the freedom to explore and deduce and come to your own conclusions. Apparently it’s getting pretty complicated. And Alexis Ong was impressed. “Witty, observational writing and a practical approach to reasoning make this excellent historical mystery a one-of-a-kind work,” she wrote in her review of Case of the Golden Idol. It came out on PC.

Betrayal at Club Low was also reviewed by Alexis for Eurogamer. It’s a dice-based storytelling game about finding multiple ways to complete undercover missions in a nightclub. “Betrayal at Club Low is already one of my favorite games of the year and one of my favorite Cosmo D games to date,” wrote Alexis.

neon white I’ve played. It’s a speedrunning FPS that brilliantly and unashamedly doesn’t try to be anything else. It’s not even an FPS; It’s all about distance, all about speed. And it’s energetic and stylish and fast. Oisin tested Neon White for us. “With airtight controls, fluid speedrunning, and a large dose of anime-inspired flair, few games can match the pace of Neon White,” they wrote. It is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.

Not for broadcast I’ve been playing too, although I tried it out in Steam Early Access a few years ago. Now it’s done and the story is complete. Not for Broadcast is a tongue-in-cheek game about directing a late-night TV news show in the 90’s. You decide which camera feeds you want to switch between while you do all sorts of other things such as: B. the selection and targeting of advertising, censoring of swear words and much more. It’s a game about really having too much to do and trying to do it all at once. We didn’t get to review this one, but it’s silly, satirical, and memorable. It is available on PC (steam).

These are the games in the race for the grand prize. That means the excellent Roadwarden – “one of the best historical fantasies you’ll play” – and Citizen Sleeper, which we also loved, have been left out and included as “honorable mentions” instead. However, Citizen Sleeper has competed for the Excellence in Narrative Award. Unfortunately, Roadwarden is not nominated for any.

This is not intended for broadcast, but this video is intended for broadcast. Just really.

There aren’t many games with multiple nominations. Tunic and Treason in Club Low have three, while Immortality has two, as does South of the Circle. South of the Circle is an illustrated-style interactive film that caused quite a stir on Apple Arcade a while back, but came to PC and Switch last year. And it’s rightly known for its narrative and sound, as it offers some of the best in-game performance I’ve come across.

Other nominated games we’ve covered are:

  • Norco – “a beautiful, surprising, human and absolutely magnetic debut”
  • Paradise Marsh – a “magnificent study of nature and solitude”
  • I was a Teenage Exocolonist – a game that explores the many ways in which our past experiences shape us
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker – a game in the Homeworld universe about shipwreck dismantling
  • Butterfly Soup 2 – a game that demands a higher standard of Asian representation in video games
  • We Are OFK – Foamy pop music meets likeable teen drama
  • Dome Keeper – a stylish base defense and excavation game

It’s also great to see Sokpop, the young Dutch quartet, get their card-based village simulation game Stacklands nominated for Excellence in Design. I spoke to Sokpop a few years ago and they are a very nice bunch.

It’s a shame to see that the arcade game Swordship, which we gave an Essential, only gets “honourable mention”. Also missing were Return to Monkey Island, The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow, Eternal Threads and Cult of the Lamb.

Zoe takes on Cult of the Lamb, one of the games that only gets an “Honourable Mention”.

Elsewhere there are a few mentions of the potion-making game Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator that Christian and I played last year; and the mention of Terra Nil, the world-changing simulation game that I checked out and absolutely loved. I can’t wait but it’s not out yet (not sure what the jury is up to?) – apparently it’s coming this year. There are a demo available.

For more information on the Independent Game Festival juries and nominees, visit the official website.

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • Tunic (Tunic Team)
  • The Fall of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games)
  • Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid)
  • Neon White (Angel Matrix)
  • Not for broadcast (NotGames)

Honorable Mentions: Tinykin (Splashteam), Terra Nil (Free Lives), RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.), Roadwarden (Moral Anxiety Studio), Hardspace: Shipbreaker (Blackbird Interactive), Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age )

Excellence in design

  • Against the Storm (Hermit Games)
  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • Mr. Sun’s Hat Box (Kenny Sun)
  • Neon White (Angel Matrix)
  • Stacklands (Sokpop collective)
  • The Fall of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games)

Honorable Mentions: Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age), Cursed to Golf (Chuhai Labs), Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator (Niceplay Games), Swordship (Digital Kingdom), Terra Nile (Free Lives), Tinykin (Splashteam)

excellence in narration

  • Butterfly Soup 2 (Brianna Lei)
  • Citizen Sleeper (Jump Across the Ages)
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist (Northway Games)
  • Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid)
  • Norco (geography of robots)
  • South of the circle (state of affairs)

Honorable Mentions: Eternal Threads (Cosmonaut Studios), Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg (Fuzzy Ghost), Roadwarden (Moral Anxiety Studio), The Case of the Golden Idol (Color Gray Games), The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow (Cloak and Dagger Games), The Wreck (The Pixel Hunt)

Excellence in Audio

  • Dome Guardian (Bippinbits)
  • Paradise March (LazyEti)
  • South of the circle (state of affairs)
  • The Forest Quartet (Mads & Friends)
  • Tunic (Tunic Team)
  • We are OFK (Team OFK)

Honorable Mentions: Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios), Cult of the Lamb (Massive Monster), Immortality (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid), Melatonin (Half Asleep), Neon White (Angel Matrix), Tinykin (Splashteam)

Excellence in Fine Arts

  • Afterglitch (Vladimir Kudelka)
  • How deep is the dark water? (Rhett Tsai)
  • Potionomics (Gourmet Games)
  • RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.)
  • To Hell With The Ugly (La Poule Noire, ARTE France)
  • Tunic (Tunic Team)

Honorable Mentions: I Was a Teenage Exocolonist (Northway Games), Melatonin (Half Asleep), NAIAD (HiWarp), Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator (niceplay games), Return to Monkey Island (Terrible Toybox), Swordship (Digital Kingdom), Terra Nile (Free Lives), Voodoo Detective (Short Sleeve Studio LLC)

Best Student Game

  • Gevaudan (Nicolas Bernard)
  • Mind Diver (indoor sunglasses)
  • Moderator slides (Mathias Schifter & Brin Žvan)
  • Shutter (ARTFX 2022)
  • Scale (Gustav Almstrom)
  • Slider (randomerz)

Honorable Mentions: A Mallard’s Song (Ducky Elford), Error143 (Jenny Vi Pham), Paper Planet (Doodlegames), The Longest Walk (Alexander Tarvet), Zenosyne (Ezra Szanton)

https://www.eurogamer.net/our-takes-on-the-indie-games-nominated-for-the-igf-2023-awards Our take on the indie games nominated for the IGF 2023 Awards

Fry Electronics Team

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