There’s a big celebration about to happen. Awards will be given. Corks will be popped. People who have worked long and hard on their dreams will finally get a little recognition. Of course, I’m talking about the Oscars of hard-working indie game developers. The Independent Games Festival started this week and there are some big awards to give away. You can keep your shiny gold little men. Give me something that says I made an awesome game. With some big games hitting the stage this year, it’s going to be a tough fight just to win any award.
Of course, we here at G4TV.com know that you have a gambling problem. You keep losing. If you kept winning, it wouldn’t be a problem. So how about some help?
We've picked out some of the best bets in each of the categories ranging from audio all the way up to the big prize: the Seumas McNally award. And just to cover all the bases, we’ve even thrown in a dark horse contender in the competition just to cover our butts. Of course, each one of these games beat out hundreds of other titles just to make it this far. When all is said and done, we are all winners to have so many great games in the competition this year. Just remember that if you happen to win any real money by betting on these titles, you’re required to give us 10% off the top. Or else. Read on for our Best Bets for the Independent Games Festival Awards this year.
Nuovo Award Finalists
Previous Winner: Tuning
Best Bet: Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (B.U.T.T.O.N.)
The Nuovo Award is all about finding what the French like to call that “I don’t know what” quality to a game. It’s all about finding something interesting, fresh, and new. When you’re looking at indie games, practically all of them fit that description. Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now (or just B.U.T.T.O.N.) stands out from the pack for a number of obvious reasons. In this game, all you have to do is press a button to win. Unfortunately, everyone else can win with a press of a button. And there’s the rub. How does anyone expect to win in a button pressing game? By cheating, of course.
B.U.T.T.O.N. is more about the game outside of the screen than what appears on it. You follow the instructions, sing songs, and do what ever it takes to win. Once the game tells you the winning condition (press a button, press a button X number of times, or don’t press the button) it’s up to you to come out on top. It’s rare for a game not to try to create a world for you to explore. B.U.T.T.O.N. lets you have fun in your world by moving your attention to the people beside you. Cover your button. Shove people out of the way. Push other buttons. When cheating is allowed, the sky is the limit.
Dark Horse: Hazard: The Journey Of Life
I’ve written about this game before but it bears repeating – Hazard lets you explore the world of video games through one element at a time. Like a viral museum without the cheesy gift shop and that penny flattening machine, you explore a world that’s seemingly based in reality but quickly find fake floors, hallways that double back, and every trick you can throw into a digital environment. After making your way through each of the tricks, you’ll find plaques on the wall describing what you’ve learned. And even though you’ll see the exit at the very beginning, Hazard creates a world you never want to leave.
Finally, we get to the student projects. These programmers gave up nights of heavy drinking for coding and chasing their dreams. The hard part comes when you’re facing eight games that are so unique and diverse that any one of them could easily be selected as the head of their class. So, I’m picking out one that I thoroughly enjoyed last year – OctoDad.
The description sells itself. You are an octopus disguised as a father who must get out of an anniversary dinner by combining items to create a dummy version of yourself. The controls fit the game and story perfectly. You control either the legs or arms at one time. The right and left mouse button corresponds to the appropriate side. Awkward, requires concentration, and completely appropriate; few games would willing put in such controls just to make you feel like an octopus out of water. Beyond that, the tasks and characters are actually rather clever. If nothing else, you should download this free title just to play one of the most appropriate final bosses in a game.
Dark Horse: PaperPlane
One of the first things you’ll think of once you pick up this title is Flower. Just as in Flower, you explore a world by flying around on gentle air currents. You progress through the game through exploration and finding certain objects in the environment. Starting out in a tree house, you see sketches of objects that you’ll need to find. Finding these objects brings the pictures and memories associated with them back to life. PaperPlane creates a world that you want to explore with soft colors, the gentle motion of the plane, and a story that unravels piece by piece as you find new clues to your past.