Return of the Obra Dinn leads the 2019 Independent Games Festival nominations

Another new year is upon us, and that means fresh starts, well-intentioned resolutions, gym memberships that will be gone before the snow, and a fresh batch of Independent Games Festival award nominees. This year's lineup of contenders is led by Return of the Obra Dinn, our pick for Best Puzzle Game of 2018, which has four nominations including one for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, followed by the "hilarious, horrifying wizard death experiment" Noita, and Hypnospace Outlaw, the inspiration for our October 2018 back page joke, with three each. 

Befitting the very broad definition of "indie," some of the games up for awards, like Unavowed or Genital Jousting, are relatively well-known, while others are considerably more obscure. (Interestingly, one of the biggest indie games of 2018, Subnautica, which we named the year's Best Survival Game, got three "honorable mention" nods but no actual nominations. Award shows, eh?) They were selected from an initial batch of over 500 entrants, winnowed to a more manageable number by "a diverse set of expert jurors from across the industry for final consideration." Here's what they came up with: 

 Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Minit (Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Jukio Kallio & Dominik Johann)
  • Opus Magnum (Zachtronics)
  • Noita (Nolla Games)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
  • Hypnospace Outlaw (Jay Tholen, Mike Lasch, Xalavier Nelson Jr., Corey Cochran)
  • Do Not Feed the Monkeys (Fictiorama Studios)

Honorable Mentions: Wandersong (Greg Lobanov & A Shell in the Pit); Subnautica (Unknown Worlds Entertainment); Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley); Moss (Polyarc); Unavowed (Wadjet Eye Games); Iconoclasts (Joakim Sandberg); Virtual Virtual Reality (Tender Claws); Beat Saber (Beat Games) 

Excellence in Visual Art  

  • Forgotton Anne (ThroughLine Games)
  • Alto's Odyssey (Team Alto)
  • Hypnospace Outlaw (Jay Tholen, Mike Lasch, Xalavier Nelson Jr., Corey Cochran)
  • Just Shapes & Beats (Berzerk Studio)
  • Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)

Honorable Mentions: Beat Saber (Beat Games); Wandersong (Greg Lobanov & A Shell in the Pit); Subnautica (Unknown Worlds Entertainment); Moss (Polyarc); Iconoclasts (Joakim Sandberg); Guildlings (Sirvo Studios); Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)

Excellence in Audio  

  • Ethereal (Nonsense Arts - Nicolás Recabarren and Tomás Batista)
  • Hypnospace Outlaw (Jay Tholen, Mike Lasch, Xalavier Nelson Jr., Corey Cochran)
  • Moss (Polyarc)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
  • Alto's Odyssey (Team Alto)
  • Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)

Honorable Mentions: Creaks (Amanita Design); Holedown (grapefrukt games); Pikuniku (Sectordub); The Messenger (Sabotage); Distance (Refract Studios); Wandersong (Greg Lobanov & A Shell in the Pit); Wattam (Funomena) 

Excellence in Design   

  • What the Golf? (Triband)
  • Do Not Feed the Monkeys (Fictiorama Studios)
  • Noita (Nolla Games)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)
  • Dicey Dungeons (Terry Cavanagh, Chipzel, and Marlowe Dobbe)
  • Opus Magnum (Zachtronics)

Honorable Mentions: Subnautica (Unknown Worlds Entertainment); Carto (Sunhead Games); Black Room (Cassie McQuater); JUMPGRID (Ian MacLarty); Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley); Hypnospace Outlaw (Jay Tholen, Mike Lasch, Xalavier Nelson Jr., Corey Cochran); Beat Saber (Beat Games)

Excellence in Narrative  

  • \Wandersong (Greg Lobanov & A Shell in the Pit)
  • Genital Jousting (Free Lives)
  • Unavowed (Wadjet Eye Games)
  • Seers Isle (Nova-box)
  • Watch Me Jump (Jeremy Gable)
  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope)

Honorable Mentions: Do Not Feed The Monkeys (Fictiorama Studios); The Hex (Daniel Mullins Games) Speed Dating for Ghosts (Copychaser Games); after HOURS (Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk, Abi Meekel); Fortune-499 (AP Thomson); Marie's Room (like Charlie); Tango: The Adventure Game (Gualicho Games)

Nuovo Award   

  • Circle0 (yesyes)
  • eCheese Zone (Seemingly Pointless)
  • Noita (Nolla Games)
  • Mirror Drop (Ian Lilley)
  • Black Room (Cassie McQuater)
  • Paratopic (Arbitrary Metric)
  • Do Not Feed the Monkeys (Fictiorama Studios)
  • Nth Dimension[al] Hiking (Zachariah Chandler)  

Honorable Mentions: All Our Asias (Sean Han Tani); Hypnospace Outlaw (Jay Tholen, Mike Lasch, Xalavier Nelson Jr., Corey Cochran); Cyberpet Graveyard (alienmelon); levedad (solimporta); Subserial Network (Aether Interactive); macdows 95 (gamebra.in); The Norwood Suite (Cosmo D); Nerve Damage (Dennis Carr) 

Best Student Game   

  • It's Paper Guy! (Paper Team)
  • Grace Bruxner Presents: The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game
  • (Grace Bruxner)
  • After HOURS (Bahiyya Khan, Claire Meekel, Tim Flusk, Abi Meekel)
  • En Garde! (En Garde! Team)
  • levedad (solimporta)
  • Sole (Gossamer Games)

Honorable Mentions: We Should Talk (HeartBeetStudio); Coffin Rot Brewing Co. (Rosser-McGraw Studio); Fling to the Finish (SplitSide Games); Indecision. (Bilge Kaan); Seasons (David Su and Dominique Star); supertype (Philipp Stollenmayer); Atlas' Fate: Between Light and Darkness (Baby Robot Games); Marbloid (Supyrb)

The winners will be announced at the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 20, just ahead of the Game Developers Choice Awards, which will be livestreamed on Twitch and other platforms. You can get a look at what's coming at igf.com.