The weird time between finishing off games from 2014 and anticipating upcoming 2015 releases is here, and that time is probably better known as awards season. We've shared our own list of games that we felt flew under the radar amid all the hubbub of AAA releases, but now it's time for the International Games Festival 2015 to offer the spotlight to the smaller, weirder indie games that made their mark last year.
Last year's winners included Richard Hofmeier's retail simulator Cart Life, Subset Games' sci-fi spaceship simulator FTL: Faster Than Light and Cardboard Computer's dreamlike narrative game Kentucky Route Zero. Generally the IGF Awards are worth checking out to find some of the hidden gems that didn't get as much coverage as major titles, but are worth catching up on during the early months of the year, and this year's finalists are no exception.
The leading nominee is around the world adventure 80 Days, based on the novel by Jules Verne, in which players take on the role of Phileas Fogg and compete with others to be the fastest to make it around the world using limited resources and various modes of transportation. Gritty survival game This War of Mine scored two finalist positions, as did puzzle game The Talos Principle, exploration game Outer Wilds, anthropomorphized alphabet game Metamorphabet and tactical stealth title Invisible, Inc. Here's the full list of finalists.
Seumas McNally Grand Prize:
80 DaysInvisible, Inc.MetamorphabetOuter WildsThe Talos PrincipleThis War of Mine
Excellence in Visual Arts:
Donut Countyelse Heart.Break()Lumino CityMemory of a Broken DimensionMetamorphabetOquonie
Excellence in Design:
80 DaysFramedInvisible, Inc.Killer QueenOuter WildsThe Talos Principle
Excellence in Audio:
Ephemerid: A Musical AdventurePhonopathShovel KnightThe Sailor's DreamThe Vanishing of Ethan CarterThumper
Excellence in Narrative:
80 DAaysComing Out Simulator 2014Ice-Bound: A Novel of ReconfigurationPRYThis War of MineThree Fourths Home
Become a Great Artist in Just 10 SecondsBoundenDesert GolfingElegy for a Dead Worldhow do you Do It?Plug & PlayRooftop CopTetrageddon Games
The winners will be announced during this year's Independent Games Festival, which takes place from March 2nd to March 6th, 2015. Some of the games are currently playable for free online with no downloads, so we've provided links to those games above for readers who have a spare few minutes to try them out.
While some of the games have been available for a while (This War of Mine and Shovel Knight are definitely among the must-play games of 2014), many others are still in development or early access.
All the same, the IGF Awards are an interesting insight into some of the creative oddities that passionate indie developers are working on right now.