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Return of the Obra Dinn wins the Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival Awards

Lucas Pope previously won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Papers, Please

Return of the Obra Dinn - a body on the deck Lucas Pope/3909
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The 21st annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards were held Wednesday night at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Top honors went to Lucas Pope, who received the Seumas McNally Grand Prize for his work on Return of the Obra Dinn. This is Pope’s second time winning the award, which he also received in 2013 for Papers, Please.

Obra Dinn is a supernatural murder mystery set on board a 19th-century merchant ship. Players must piece together the events of a journey that took place five years earlier, all with the help of an unusual time-bending artifact. In addition to its narrative, the game is notable for its art style, which recalls the monochrome era of early PC gaming. Polygon included the game in our Polygon Recommends program, and ranked it second on our Game of the Year 2018 list behind God of War.

Obra Dinn also took home the award for Best Narrative at the Game Developers Choice Awards, also held Wednesday in San Francisco.

The full slate of nominees, which were announced in January, is a who’s-who of the very best independent creatives in the industry. The awards presentation, which was broadcast live on Twitch, highlights the incredible diversity among its smallest and most vibrant teams. We’ve included a list of all the winners below.

Also awarded last night was the ID@Xbox Gaming Heroes Award. It was given posthumously to Jerry Lawson, the inventor of the first cartridge-based home video game system. Lawson died in 2011 at the age of 70.

Excellence in Visual Art

Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley)

Excellence in Audio

Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)

Excellence in Design

Opus Magnum (Zachtronics)

Excellence in Narrative

Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)

Nuovo Award

Black Room (Cassie McQuater)

Best Student Game

after HOURS (Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk, Abi Meekel)

Audience Award

ETHEREAL (Nonsense Arts - Nicolás Recabarren and Tomás Batista)

ID@Xbox Gaming Heroes Award

Jerry Lawson

alt.ctrl.GDC Award

HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck (Peter Gyory, Clement Zheng)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)