Sure, it might be the big budget AAA blockbusters that grab a lot of the headlines and get to demand such a price premium at tills, but it’s been proven time and again this year that indie games can come out of nowhere to capture the imaginations of millions.
Games like Among Us, Fall Guys and Phasmaphobia all made big splashes this summer, the ludicrously catchy Bugsnax announcement trailer stood shoulder to shoulder with Sony’s first party PS5 game announcements, The Peaky Blinders TV series was adapted into video game form by Futurlab, and on and on and on. Where big budget games can often feel safe and conservative, independent developers can hone in on wild ideas, perfect a peculiar niche, create new genres and blends of ideas that other follow.
Our winner is from one of the better known indie developers out there, a team that’s arguably at the height of the powers…
It’s not all that surprising that Hades is the winner here. After all, it’s from Supergiant Games, the creators of the excellent Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre, all of which have been gems in their own right. Hades somehow manages to feel like not only an evolution of everything the studio has done to date, but also of the roguelite genre in general.
The way it masterfully weaves in the story into each run, each success, and each failure is something that’ll undoubtedly influence the genre going forwards. On top of that, it happens to have some of the tightest gameplay, some of the prettiest artwork, and some of the slappingest music around. It’s simply excellent, and it very much deserves this award.
– Jason C
Runner Up – Spiritfarer
Spiritfarer might be a game that’s all about death and dying, but where most video games would have this be at the end of your sword, Spiritfarer means to deal with death on a more emotional level. As the newly appointed ferryman of the River Styx, your job is to meet various lost souls trapped between worlds and shepherd them on to the afterlife, bonding with them, catering to their needs as you build and manage your ship, and helping them come to terms with the end of their life.
It’s a bittersweet experience that takes the inevitable, the scary unknown of life ending and handles it with a soft and caring touch.
Also, there’s a cute fluffy cat called Daffodil.
Runner Up – Lair of the Clockwork God
One thing that games rarely manage to get right is humour. Well…. intentional humour, that is. Lair of the Clockwork God is one that gets it absolutely spot on, as Dan Marshall and Ben Ward’s witty banter runs back and forth between their in-game characters.
Their latest outing together, their first since 2009, isn’t just a loving homage to point & click adventures though, as Dan is insistent on becoming an indie darling platformer. You’ll hop back and forth between the two genres, solving puzzles with Ben’s inventory, while Dan gets to gad about and do outrageous things like jumping (to plenty of aloof derision from Ben), and trying to save the world from all the apocalypses. There’s some ingenious head-scratchers and great narrative twists on what is one of the most enjoyable indie games of the year.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Fall Guys
- Monster Train
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remaster/Remake
Let us know which indie games really stood out for you in 2020. Was is a game from a well established studio, such as Hades? Or perhaps something out of the blue like the fun and quirky Fall Guys?