Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize for Best Independent Game at the 21st annual Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards tonight.
The ceremony, which honored some of the most innovative and excellent independent games of the past year, took place as part of the 2019 Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
In addition to the Grand Prize, Return of the Obra Dinn also received top honors for Excellence in Narrative. Return of the Obra Dinn is an innovative and uniquely stylized murder mystery from Lucas Pope, creator of 2013’s acclaimed Papers, Please, which took home the IGF Seumas McNally Grand Prize during the 16th Annual IGF Awards. The full presentation of the Independent Games Festival Awards (IGF Awards), can be viewed on the GDC Twitch channel.
Overall, the 2019 IGF Awards featured an eclectic and impressive group of winners. Excellence in Visual Art winner Mirror Drop, from developer Ian Lilley, is a psychedelic 3D puzzle game where players maneuver a reflective sphere in a world full of mirrors, over-saturated colors and infinities. The Excellence in Audio award went to Arbitrary Metric’s Paratopic, a horror-tinged adventure game that experiments with non-linear, fragmented storytelling. Opus Magnum by Zachtronics, the open-ended puzzle game where players design and build machines to carry out alchemical processes, earned the Excellence in Design award.
The Nuovo Award, which honors the title that makes jurors ‘think differently about games as a medium,’ went to developer Cassie McQuater for Black Room, a browser-based narrative game about falling asleep while on a computer connected to the internet. Players are put into the role of an insomniac on the verge of sleep, moving through shifting states of consciousness, joined by a cast of classic female video game sprites while they move through hallucinatory, pixelated landscapes.
The Best Student Game Award was given to Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk and Abi Meekel for their work on after HOURS, a full motion video (FMV) game about a night spent alone with a young woman suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and experiencing the world from her unique perspective. The Audience Award was given to the hand-crafted navigation puzzle game, ETHEREAL by Nonsense Arts developers Nicolás Recabarren and Tomás Batista.
The ID@Xbox Gaming Heroes Award was awarded posthumously to Jerry Lawson, inventor of the first cartridge-based home video game system, for his contributions to games and the industry. Finally, the alt.ctrl.GDC Award for the title nominated as the best from the GDC 2019 on-site showcase of alternative control schemes and interactions in games, went to the co-operative ship-sailing survival game, HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck by Peter Gyory and Clement Zheng.
All IGF titles, including both finalists and winners, are playable for any GDC pass holder at the IGF Pavilion located on the GDC Expo Floor in San Francisco's Moscone Center through Friday, March 22nd.
The winners of the 21st annual IGF Awards are:
Excellence in Visual Art ($3,000)
Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley)
Excellence in Audio ($3,000)
Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)
Excellence in Design ($3,000)
Opus Magnum (Zachtronics)
Excellence in Narrative ($3,000)
Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
Nuovo Award ($3,000)
Black Room (Cassie McQuater)
Best Student Game ($3,000)
after HOURS (Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk, Abi Meekel)
Audience Award ($3,000)
ETHEREAL (Nonsense Arts - Nicolás Recabarren and Tomás Batista)
ID@Xbox Gaming Heroes Award
alt.ctrl.GDC Award ($3,000)
HOT SWAP: All Hands On Deck (Peter Gyory, Clement Zheng)
Seumas McNally Grand Prize ($30,000)
Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
The IGF – which includes the two-day Independent Games Summit as part of GDC – was established in 1998 by the UBM Game Network to recognize the best independent game developers and encourage creativity and excellence in independent games.
Organizers would like to thank the generous supporters of this year’s IGF, including ID@Xbox (Platinum Sponsor), Valve (Platform Sponsor) and Gamasutra.com (IGF Media Partner).
For more information on the Independent Games Festival, please visit the official IGF website.
For more details on GDC 2019 visit the show's official website, or subscribe to regular updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.
Gamasutra and GDC are sibling organizations under parent company Informa