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2023 Independent Games Festival Awards Finalists Revealed

by Rainier on Jan. 24, 2023 @ 4:48 p.m. PST

The organizers of the 25th annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) have announced the finalists for the 2023 IGF Awards, which honors the most influential, innovative and exemplary projects in independent game development.

Informa Tech, organizers of the 2023 Game Developers Conference (GDC) have revealed the finalists for the 25th annual awards ceremony of the Independent Games Festival (IGF), the longest running festival, summit and showcase celebrating independent games and their creators. The IGF is part of the 2023 Game Developers Conference, which will be held in-person at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center from March 20 – 24. 

Two finalist titles share the distinction of having three nominations apiece. TUNIC by TUNIC Team is nominated for Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Visual Arts and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. TUNIC is an action adventure starring a heroic little fox who sets about exploring a foreign land brimming with colossal beasts, strange and powerful items, and long-lost secrets around every corner. The other three-time nominee, Betrayal At Club Low by Cosmo D Studios, is nominated for Excellence in Design, the Nuovo Award (the award that “makes the jurors think differently about games as a medium”) and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize. Set in the eponymous former coffin factory-turned-nightclub, Betrayal At Club Low is an indie-tabletop-inspired RPG with tactile dice-driving gameplay that gives players multiple ways to approach each undercover mission, and tense decisions (and consequences) at every turn. 

The other nominees for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize are:

  • The Case of the Golden Idol (also nominated for Excellence in Design) by Color Gray Games is a new kind of detective game that allows you to think and investigate freely. Discover clues surrounding 12 strange and gruesome deaths and build your own theory. Pick your suspect, deduce the motive, unmask the awful truth.
  • IMMORTALITY  (also nominated for Excellence in Narrative) by Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid Productions is a haunting new game from the creator of Her Story. Players use the cinematic ability to teleport from scene to scene via match-cut to explore a treasure trove of newly unearthed footage from the lost films of film actor Marissa Marcel, who has gone missing. Match cut your own path through the footage and solve the mystery: WHAT HAPPENED TO MARISSA MARCEL?
  • Neon White (also nominated for Excellence in Design) by Angel Matrix is a lightning fast single-player speedrunning FPS where you can sacrifice your guns for godlike parkour moves.
  • Not For Broadcast by NotGames puts players in control of the National Nightly News, as a radical government comes to power. In this immersive, high-pressure, propaganda sim, you control what the people see and determine what’s Not For Broadcast.

In addition to the categories listed below, the Audience Award is welcoming the GDC audience to weigh in on their favorite independent game of the year, and the public can cast their vote from the Audience Award ballot located here.

After an initial assessment completed by hundreds of judges, over 500 entries for the 2023 IGF Awards were distributed to a diverse set of expert jurors from across the games industry for final consideration. The juries for each individual category (Audio, Visual, Student, Nuovo, Design, and Narrative then selected the finalists after playing, discussing and meticulously evaluating them.

The winners will be announced during the Independent Games Festival Awards, taking place at the 2023 Game Developers Conference (GDC) on Wednesday, March 22 (with a simultaneous broadcast on GDC Twitch). The IGF Awards will be hosted by Marina Díez, CEO at Three of Cups Games, and principal game designer at BTF Games for The Berlin Apartment and the lead game designer of Dordogne at Un Je Ne Sais Quoi Studio. The IGF Awards ceremony immediately precede the Game Developers Choice Awards, which recognizes the best games of the year across all sections of video game development. All GDC 2023 pass-holders can attend both the Game Developers Choice Awards and IGF ceremonies in person at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. 

The full list of finalists for each category of the 2023 Independent Games Festival, along with "honorable mentions," is as follows:

Best Student Game

  • Gevaudan (Nicolas Bernard)
  • Mind Diver (Indoor Sunglasses)
  • Presenter Slides (Mathias Schifter & Brin Žvan)
  • Shutter (ARTFX 2022)
  • Skala (Gustav Almström)
  • 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)

Excellence in Audio

  • Dome Keeper (Bippinbits)
  • Paradise Marsh (LazyEti)
  • South of the Circle (State of Play)
  • 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 Design

  • Against the Storm (Eremite Games)
  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • Mr. Sun's Hatbox (Kenny Sun)
  • Neon White (Angel Matrix)
  • Stacklands (Sokpop Collective)
  • The Case 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 Nil (Free Lives), Tinykin (Splashteam)

Excellence in Narrative

  • Butterfly Soup 2 (Brianna Lei)
  • Citizen Sleeper (Jump Over the Age)
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist (Northway Games)
  • IMMORTALITY (Sam Barlow, Half Mermaid)
  • NORCO (Geography of Robots)
  • South of the Circle (State of Play)

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 Visual Arts

  • Afterglitch (Vladimir Kudelka)
  • How Deep Is the Dark Water? (Rhett Tsai)
  • Potionomics (Voracious 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 Nil (Free Lives), Voodoo Detective (Short Sleeve Studio LLC)

Nuovo Award

  • Afterglitch (Vladimir Kudelka)
  • An Outcry (Quinn K.)
  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me (Taylor McCue)
  • Queer Man Peering Into a Rock Pool.jpg (Fuzzy Ghost)
  • Sylvie Lime (Love♥️Game)
  • Time Bandit (Joel Jordon)
  • Titanic II: Orchestra for Dying At Sea (Flan Falacci)

Honorable Mentions:

  • Atuel (Matajuegos), Ib (kouri), Not For Broadcast (NotGames), Of Moons and Mania (Absurd Walls), RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (DeskWorks Inc.)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Betrayal at Club Low (Cosmo D Studios)
  • TUNIC (TUNIC Team)
  • The Case 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)

The Independent Games Festival has served as a springboard for breakthrough independent titles. Previous IGF prize winners include Umurangi Generation, A Short Hike, Return of the Obra Dinn, Quadrilateral Cowboy, Night in the Woods, Her Story, Spelunky, Braid, Castle Crashers, and many more critical and cultural hits.

For more information on the 2023 Independent Games Festival, including submission specifics and frequently asked questions, please visit the official Independent Games Festival website.

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