eGamer Awards 2012: The Indie Awards
In this write-up we’ll be giving you the breakdown of all the year’s highlights in indie gaming, which includes our Indie Game of the Year. It’s been a phenomenal year for indie, and we’ve actually had some of the best gaming experiences this whole year right here with these little games. In fact, some of these games had significant impacts on the entire gaming industry. But let’s not delay any further. Head on down to go through our indie game awards for 2012, and see which games made our highlights list.
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Nominees: Fez, Deponia, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Hotline Miami.
Winner: Dust: An Elysian Tail
Dust: An Elysian Tail was simply the stand-out game as far as amazing art direction was concerned, and it really was a beautiful game. With its great variety in environments that took players through snow settings, ice caverns, dead forests, mountain ranges and more, Dust always had a freshness to its visuals, and it always looked damn good. And when you add the fact that it featured stunning dynamic weather effects, great use of ambient lighting, and a unique sense of style, it really was stellar in this regard, especially more so when you consider that the entire game was made by just one person. It was like watching a painting at times, and it really impressed us continuously while we played it, wowing us on many occasions. This makes it our choice for the best indie art direction award of 2012.
Nominees: Hotline Miami, Deponia, Resonance, Dust: An Elysian Tail.
Winner: Hotline Miami
Arguably the best part of the incredible indie action game, Hotline Miami, was its memorable and distinctive soundtrack. While playing your murderous rampages were set to the backdrop of slow-tempo psychedelic grooves that all too quickly turned into fast electro tracks as the gameplay sped up, and this really nailed home the strong sense of mayhem that the game was trying to deliver. The music really did warp you into a world of its own, and made the game almost impossible to put down. It was mesmerising in many ways especially when coupled together with the extreme violence. The game’s soundtrack was dangerously intoxicating, and easily one of the best uses of sound not just in indie gaming, but in all games we’d dare say. It was perfectly fitting and masterfully executed, and significantly aided in making the entire experience one that lasted in your memory long after you finished the game. This makes Hotline Miami our choice for the best indie sound design award of 2012.
Nominees: Resonance, Deponia, Hotline Miami, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Dear Esther.
Resonance ended up being an outstanding game with credit almost entirely going to its extremely interesting and incredibly compelling narrative. With really great voice acting, highly likable and intriguing characters, and a well-structured plot that was as ambitious as it was thought-provoking, Resonance stood at the top in indie this year with regards to story. The game definitely surprised us with its story ambition and the scope of its mystery, and it certainly sought after heights you’d expect from a much larger game. It was just so admirable and impressive how dense the story was, and how it was full of life and emotion and suspense, and the cherry on top was that the grand mystery was brought to an end in a shocking finale that stayed with us for a long time. Resonance was a first-rate plot, with writing that could match some of the best games this year, and it was clever, thoroughly entertaining and managed to find a good mix of charm, humour, wit and seriousness, whilst maintaining high quality writing. Resonance was amazing, and is our choice for the best indie story award of 2012.
Nominees: They Bleed Pixels, Hotline Miami, Fez, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams, Stellar Impact, Trine 2.
Winner: Hotline Miami
Hotline Miami just had the most memorable gameplay we’ve had in indie this year, and it was hellishly fast, frantic, exciting, downright awesome, insanely gory, frustrating, unforgiving, sadistic and incredibly compelling. It was so many things, and made us experience so many emotions in a matter of seconds, that we absolutely had the most riveting time with it. This game was brutal, both in execution and difficulty, and it was a phenomenal amount of fun, delivering some of the best entertainment we had this year. The gameplay was just simple yet deep and varied, fast yet methodical, and potentially frustrating yet constantly pure blissful fun. This game made sure we would not forget it, and it just played brilliantly. This makes Hotline Miami our choice for the best indie gameplay award of 2012.
Nominees: Toxic Bunny HD, Primordia, Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes, Awesomenauts.
Winner: Toxic Bunny HD
We were really excited to play Toxic Bunny HD, especially because it was made here in South Africa and we personally interviewed the developers Celestial Games this year at rAge. However, the game itself just fell short in the end. It lacked in the gameplay department, which is the most important element of any platformer, and it really felt like a hit and miss to us. It had some great qualities, but at the end of the day the problematic mechanics, cumbersome gameplay, glitchy level design and lacking implementation of controller support really brought it down. It was a real pity because we could see the amount of passion and dedication put into the game, and that added to our disappointment. All of this makes Toxic Bunny HD our choice for the most disappointing indie game of 2012.
Nominees: Unmechanical, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Hotline Miami, Slender.
We’re sure that this comes as no surprise, excuse the pun. We don’t think anyone could have possibly anticipated that such a small game would create such a massive fuss, and really, we didn’t expect it to be such a compelling horror experience either. Slender really was a great game, and perhaps the most exciting thing about it was that it had so much potential it was downright scary in itself. Our review of it said as much, and behold as our predictions came true as throughout the year its influence was dangerously noticeable, and the concept was fantastically expanded. Slender itself truly surprised us, and it was an amazing advert for minimalism, showing us how you can do so much with so little, and that horror is simply all in the atmosphere, while a good game is all in the design and execution of ideas. All of this makes Slender our very easy choice for the most surprising indie game award of 2012.
Nominees: Cry of Fear, Day Z, Black Mesa, Underhell.
Winner: Day Z
It was pretty difficult to decide between this game and Cry of Fear, but in the end Day Z is our stand-out mod for 2012, and it’s just an amazing, technically deep and hellishly addictive experience. The concept of the game is simply fantastically well realised, and this really could blow into epic proportions when it releases as a stand-alone game. We’re really dying to see where it goes, and right now we can hardly pull ourselves away from this mod when we get into it. This game blew us away, and it really has the potential to be incredible. Right now it’s pretty damn awesome, and it can actually stand at the top in an ever-growing zombie-loving gaming world. And that, is seriously admirable. The talent and effort that went into this is commendable, and this makes Day Z our choice for the best mod of 2012.
Nominees: Dust: An Elysian Tail, Fez, Hotline Miami, Resonance, Slender.
Slender is undoubtedly the most influential game to come out of indie this year, and while some of you may scoff at this decision, there has been no indie game this year that has had quite the impact that this title has had. Not only has it spawned its own genre of games, which is hell of an impressive feat already, but it also marked the beginning of a much bigger game that is coming in early 2013, and yes, it’s the sequel called Slender: The Arrival. More significantly, Slender was the leading advert for minimalism in games, and showed us all how you can create so much with arguably so little, and that a great game comes down to design and execution of ideas. Furthermore, Slender also put the horror genre to shame, as it showed how other games, especially Triple A games, were doing it so wrong, and horror is all in the atmosphere, the unknown and the suspense. There is no one out there who doesn’t know what Slender is after this year, and no other game this year has managed to make such a powerful cultural impact on our gaming world. Hell, this game even managed to inspire a real movie into production. Slender is undoubtedly the most iconic indie title to release this year.
More than that, it’s just an excellent game, and many may argue that it has become the girlfriend game. Well, a very effective way to scare the pants off someone at least. But jokes aside, Slender was the beginning of the revival of the horror genre, and it truly was an inspirational and influential title. Back when we reviewed it, we spoke of how powerful the concept was and how scary it was that there was just so much potential here for expansion, and this year proved how right we were. This simple game truly showed that big, even great, things arguably have small beginnings. We are absolutely dying to play the official sequel when it releases early next year. Horror is back, the Slender Man is triumphant.
This makes Slender our choice for the indie game of the year for 2012.