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IGF Awards’ 2018 nominees point to this year’s games to watch

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A mix of 2017’s favorites and 2018’s future hits

The Voxel Agents

The nominees for the 20th Annual Independent Game Festival are out, and the list contains a fascinating mix of some of 2017’s best indies — and what could be 2018’s future hits.

If you’re curious as to how that’s possible, this is how eligibility for the IGF Awards works:

State of Development: All Entered Games must either be currently released, or be substantially feature-complete. You must have intent, at the time of submission, to release the game within 12 months of the IGF Ceremony, if your game is not already released or publicly playable.

That’s why we’re seeing both some of our favorite games of 2017 up for the Seamus McNally Grand Prize (and in its honorable mentions) alongside indie games many of us may not have heard of. The complete list is below.

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

West of Loathing (Asymmetric Publications)

Into the Breach (Subset Games)

Heat Signature (Suspicious Developments)

Baba is You (Hempuli)

Honorable Mentions: Tacoma (Fullbright); Rain World (VIDEOCULT); Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (Game Grumps); Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry); Cuphead (StudioMDHR); Everything Is Going to Be OK (Nathalie Lawhead)

The majority of those launched last year, with some even attaining mainstream acclaim. (We were big fans of Getting Over It, Night in the Woods and Cuphead, in particular.) But the surprise appearance of Baba is You in the top six should immediately add it to your list of anticipated games of 2018. The PC game is an esoteric puzzle game that resembles an old MS-DOS title from the 1980s; it’s due in summer 2018.

Interesting inclusions are Nuovo Award nominee 10 Mississippi, which uses stop-motion animation to let players learn more about its young female lead; first planned for a fall 2017 launch, 10 Mississippi is still unreleased. There’s also Kids, which is described as an “experimental project” that looks extremely claustrophobic — players are lost in a gigantic crowd.

Other games of note are Celeste, the devilishly difficult follow-up to fan favorite TowerFall; and The Gardens Below, which we last saw during Sony’s Paris Games Week in October. Its appearance on the list is a nice reminder of how much this Q3 2018 puzzle game excited us when we saw its latest teaser.

The rest of the list is populated with some great titles you may have missed out on last year as well. Check it out below to find new additions to your gaming backlog. The winners will be announced on March 21 during this year’s Game Developers Conference.

EXCELLENCE IN VISUAL ART

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Echo (ULTRA ULTRA)

Luna (Funomena)

The Gardens Between (The Voxel Agents)

Chuchel (Amanita Design)

Honorable Mentions: Jettomero: Hero of the Universe (Ghost Time Games); Dead Cells (Motion Twin); AER - Memories of Old (Forgotten Key); Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games); Rain World (VIDEOCULT); Shape of the World(Hollow Tree Games); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry)

EXCELLENCE IN AUDIO

Tormentor X Punisher (e-studio)

Cuphead (StudioMDHR)

Vignettes (Skeleton Business)

Rain World (VIDEOCULT)

Uurnog Uurnlimited (Nifflas Games)

Celeste (Matt Makes Games)

Honorable Mentions: Tumbleseed (Benedict Fritz, Greg Wohlwend, Joel Corelitz, David Laskey and Jenna Blazevich); Hollow Knight (Team Cherry); Tacoma (Fullbright); Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games); Million Onion Hotel (Onion Games); Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN

Into the Breach (Subset Games)

Shenzhen I/O (Zachtronics)

Wilmot's Warehouse (Richard Hogg, Ricky Haggett, Eli Rainsberry)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Uurnog Uurnlimited (Nifflas Games)

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Honorable Mentions: Heat Signature (Suspicious Developments); Dead Cells (Motion Twin); Factorio (Wube Software); Space Pirate Trainer (I-Illusions); Battle Chef Brigade (Trinket Studios)

EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE

Tacoma (Fullbright)

Attentat 1942 (Charles University and Czech Academy of Sciences)

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Dim Bulb Games)

Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall)

Butterfly Soup (Brianna Lei)

Tooth and Tail (Pocketwatch Games)

Honorable Mentions: A Mortician's Tale (Laundry Bear Games); Lost Memories Dot Net (Star Maid Games); Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (Game Grumps); Bury me, my Love (The Pixel Hunt, Figs and ARTE France); Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm); West of Loathing (Asymmetric Publications); Rakuen (Laura Shigihara)

NUOVO AWARD

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy (Bennett Foddy)

Tarotica Voo Doo (TPM.CO SOFT WORKS)

10 Mississippi (Karina Popp)

A Mortician's Tale (Laundry Bear Games)

Cosmic Top Secret (klassefilm)

Everything Is Going to Be OK (Nathalie Lawhead)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Kids (Playables)

Honorable Mentions: Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Dim Bulb Games); IO Interloper (DANG!); The Norwood Suite (Cosmo D Studios); Cheap Golf (Pixeljam); Witchball (S.L.Clark); Million Onion Hotel (Onion Games)

BEST STUDENT GAME

IO Interloper (DANG!)

Don't Make Love (Maggese)

Penny Blue Finds a Clue (DigiPen Team Cactus Curse)

We Were Here (Total Mayhem Games)

Baba Is You (Hempuli)

Guardian of the Gears (DigiPen Team Studio 76)

Honorable Mentions: Crewsaders (Titan Squad); A.L.F.R.E.D. (Hugo Lefevre, Joseph Reichenbach, Romain Jaohar-Gaillard, Garance Royere Lebigre, Nicolas Tham, Marion Speiser, Delphine Migeot de Baran, Song Huang); MOLOCH(Seemingly Pointless); Kyklo's Code (Cube Factory); Membrane (Perfect Hat / Seth S. Scott); That Blooming Feeling(The Tots Team); Tell Me What You See (Pesky Bees)