This past Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, IndieCade 2019 showcased some of the best independent games developed this year at their international festival. Over a dozen titles were given top honors, demonstrating the creativity and innovation of developers within the indie game community.
Taking home the IndieCade Grand Jury award - the title that represents IndieCade’s “best of [the] best,” out of hundreds of submissions - was Dicey Dragons, a deckbuilding roguelike RPG from Terry Cavanagh, Chipzel and Marlowe Dobbe. Officially released on Aug. 13, 2019, Dicey Dragons features colorful graphics and cheerful music that complement a game that balances strategy and random dice rolls. Dicey Dragons is available on Steam and developer Terry Cavanagh’s itch.io page.
Grace Bruxner Presents: The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game received IndieCade’s Jury Prix Award, which is conferred on games that the jury wishes to honor for “separating itself from the pack through its craftsmanship, innovation, and/or design.” Created by Grace Bruxner, Thomas Bowker and Dan Golding The Haunted Island is a first-person 3D detective game where you play as a renowned frog investigator solving the mystery of a sloth haunted by a ghost. The Haunted Island was released Nov. 22, 2018, and can be found on Steam and developer Grace Bruxner’s itch.io page.
HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck by Peter Gyory and Clement Zheng won The Innovation in Interaction Design Award. Featuring unique controllers that can be reconfigured during the game, HOT SWAP is a two-player cooperative arcade survival game where players must swap out elements of their controllers during the game to defeat a horde of oncoming enemy ships. There is no information on whether the controllers and game will be officially released, however, HOT SWAP’s game code and information on how to create your own controllers can be found on the game’s github page.
Games that push the envelope by having a unique and curated experience are awarded The Innovation in Experience Design Award at IndieCade and the 2019 winner was Moncage by Dong Zhou and Yijia Chen. This visual puzzle game features a rotate-able cube with each side showing a different scene. By matching up elements from each scene that mirror each other, players can unlock the secrets of this creative puzzle’s world. Moncage has not been officially released, however, a demo can be found on developer Dong Zhou’s itch.io page.
The Performance Award is given to games with a “particularly sublime performance [in] motion capture, video, live and more.” The Occupation, created by White Paper Games and released on March 5, 2019, received this award at IndieCade 2019. Play as a journalist in 1987 North West England in this first-person, fixed-time, investigative thriller. There’s limited time to investigate an explosive event, make decisions and report events. Find more information on White Paper Games’ website. The Occupation can be found on PlayStation and Steam.
Winning The Narrative Design Award was Neo Cab by Chance Agency and Fellow Traveller. Dubbed an “emotional survival” game, Neo Cab players become a taxi driver and can choose passengers while balancing their driver rating and personal emotional well-being. Released on Oct. 3, 2019, you can find Neo Cab on Steam, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.
Games that interpret the world by adapting the experience of real-world systems can receive The Adaptation Award and this year’s winner was When the Rivers Were Trails by Elizabeth LaPensee and The Indian Land Tenure Foundation. When the Rivers Were Trails is an educational adventure game that follows an Anishinaabeg in the 1890s who is displaced to California due to allotment acts on Indigenous communities. Portraying a far more accurate narrative of United States’ history than The Oregon Trail, When the Rivers Were Trails is free and can be downloaded from the developers’ itch.io page.
The Location Based and Live Play Award focuses on “celebrating games that explore new forms of play and interactive experiences.” 2019’s awardee was Ama’s Memento by Awu C., Maryyann L., and Kevin K. This multimedia installation uses virtual reality to document the journey to create a “museum” that shares the stories of Awu C.’s grandmother. (Ama is Taiwanese for grandmother.) With the goal of immortalizing “the essence of Ama by shaping her stories into a virtual museum,” the production team has created a unique way of using video game technology to enhance the passage of personal narratives. For more information about Ama’s Memento, you can visit the project’s website.
IndieCade’s 2019 Tabletop Award was given to Inhuman Conditions by Tommy Maranges, Cory O’Brien and Mackenzie Schubert. Inspired by Blade Runner, this five-minute, two-person party game involves one player interrogating the other to decide whether they are a robot or a human. Inhuman Conditions does not have an official release date, but the developers provide frequent updates on their Kickstarter page.
Blabyrinth by Sleeping Beast Games won The Procedural Design Award, which “honors titles that leverage randomness and algorithmic content to create unique and innovative interactions.” Blabyrinth is a cooperative escape room game for mobile devices that can be played with 2-4 players. While there is not an exact release date, the game’s website states that Blabyrinth will be available at some point in 2019 and can be downloaded to both iOS and Android devices.
Winning The Cooperative Design Award, Tick Tock: A Tale for Two by Other Tales Interactive is a narrative adventure that requires players to use communication skills to unravel a mystery and escape a “magical clock world.” Tick Tock can be played on computers, tablets or mobile devices and is available on Steam, Google Play, and Apple Store.
Attendees of the IndieCade festival vote for the winner of The IndieCade Choice Award. This year’s winner was Kroma by Carol Mertz, Kai Karhu, Francesca Carletto-Leon, and Temitope Olujobi. This tabletop game allows 2-3 players to capture territory by layering transparent plastic pieces on a lightboard, resulting in creative artwork through competition. Kroma does not have a release date, but more information can be found on the game’s website.
The Developers Choice Award is voted on by IndieCade Festival Developers. Patrick’s Parabox by Patrick Traynor took home this award. Patrick’s Parabox is a puzzle game that involves pushing boxes into and out of each other as the player learns the world’s rules about recursion and infinities. There is no release date currently, but the developer’s website has more information about the game.
The Night Games Award is awarded to a game features at IndieCade’s Night Games, which occurred on Oct. 12, 2019. This year’s winner was Nightmare Temptation Academy by Lena NW and Costcodreamgurl. Nightmare Temptation Academy is a dating-simulation and Choose Your Own Adventure that is also a rap musical. Using “visual tropes from anime, videogames [sic] and early 2000’s digital culture,” Nightmare Temptation Academy explores the depression and anxiety that permeates Millennial’s online subcultures. There is no release date for Nightmare Temptation Academy but more information can be found on the game’s website.
It is exciting to see what groundbreaking techniques that independent game developers are using and the diverse array of gameplay options displayed at the IndieCade awards in 2019. To learn more about the festival and other featured independent games, visit the IndieCade website.