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Inscryption and Unpacking lead nominations in this year's Independent Games Festival

Also Loop Hero! Overboard! Sable!

Inscryption and Unpacking lead the nominations at this year's Independent Games Festival.

Established in 1998 - that's 24 years ago and yes, thanks, that does make me feel very, very old - the Independent Games Festival was established to "encourage innovation in game development and to recognise the best independent game developers", kind of like a Sundance for indie games.

Cover image for YouTube videoLet's Play Unpacking - Lo-fi Games to Relax to

As well as a heavy presence from Unpacking and the excellent - and surprising - card game Inscryption, there are also nominations for Loop Hero, Overboard, and Sable. Here's the full list, including the honourable mentions:

Best Student Game

  • Cai Cai Balão (Look Up Games)
  • Abriss - build to destroy (Randwerk Games)
  • Letter Lattice (Ethan Zarov)
  • Smalllife (Yueqi Wu)
  • Nainai's Recipe (Fan Fang and Mai Hou)
  • Live Adventure (Live Adventure Team)

Honourable Mentions: Astreia's Gift (Femy Nassirou and Hervé Blanchot), There You Are (Funky Dango), The Bleeding Tree (No Input Interactive), Dumpling Love (Parks Staff), Lysfangha (Baptiste Marsac and Daphne Pauchet-Deloffre), Jivana (Team Jivana), Hook Up (Team Hook Up), Come with Me (Xin Ye)

Excellence in Audio

  • Toem (Something We Made)
  • Unpacking (Witch Beam)
  • Jett: The Far Shore (Superbrothers and Pine Scented)
  • Mini Motorways (Dinosaur Polo Club)
  • Sable (Shedworks)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games)

Honourable Mentions: Severed Steel (Greylock Studios), A Musical Story (Glee-Cheese Studios), Death's Door (Acid Nerve), The Vale: Shadow of the Crown (Falling Squirrel), Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab), Overboard! (Inkle), The Wild at Heart (Moonlight Kids)

Excellence in Design

  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games)
  • Unpacking (Witch Beam)
  • Overboard! (Inkle)
  • Strange Horticulture (Bad Viking)
  • Webbed (Sbug Games)
  • Midnight Protocol (LuGus Studios)

Honourable Mentions: Loop Hero (Four Quarters), Unsighted (Studio Pixel Punk), Mini Motorways (Dinosaur Polo Club), Card Shark (Nerial), KeyWe (Stonewheat and Sons), Sunshine Heavy Industries (Daisyowl Games)

Excellence in Narrative

  • Last Call (Nina Freeman and Jake Jefferies)
  • Neurocracy (Playthroughline)
  • Closed Hands (Passenger)
  • Overboard! (Inkle)
  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games)
  • Unpacking (Witch Beam)

Honourable Mentions: Card Shark (Nerial), Norco (Geography of Robots), The Big Con (Mighty Yell), Tux and Fanny (Ghost Time Games), Opus: Echo of Starsong (Sigono), Sable (Shedworks), Blackhaven (Historiated Games)

Excellence in Visual Art

  • The Eternal Cylinder (ACE Team)
  • Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery (Silver Lining Studio)
  • Papetura (Petums)
  • Fuzz Dungeon (Jeremy Couillard)
  • The Wild at Heart (Moonlight Kids)
  • Jett: The Far Shore (Superbrothers and Pine Scented)

Honourable Mentions: Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games), A Musical Story (Glee-Cheese Studios), Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab), Saturnalia (Santa Ragione) Stonefly (Flight School Studio), Cris Tales (Dreams Uncorporated and Syck)

Nuovo Award

  • Memory Card (Lily Zone)
  • Okthryssia and Saturnia's Bureaucratic Adventures (Outlands)
  • Space Hole 2020 (Sam Atlas)
  • Tux and Fanny (Ghost Time Games)
  • Cruelty Squad (Consumer Softproducts)
  • Sparkles and Gems (Resnijars)
  • Fuzz Dungeon (Jeremy Couillard)
  • Cuccchi (Fantastico Studio)

Honourable Mentions: Last Call (Nina Freeman and Jake Jefferies), The Shape of Time (Xpaidia Studio), The Under Presents (Tender Claws), Song of Homunculus (Diamond Ace (Lily Zone and Zoë Sparks), Card Shark (Nerial), The Vale: Shadow of the Crown (Falling Squirrel)

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

  • Inscryption (Daniel Mullins Games)
  • Unpacking (Witch Beam)
  • Loop Hero (Four Quarters)
  • The Eternal Cylinder (ACE Team)
  • Cruelty Squad (Consumer Softproducts)
  • Unsighted (Studio Pixel Punk)

Honourable Mentions: Toem (Something We Made), Norco (Geography of Robots), Overboard! (Inkle), Saturnalia (Santa Ragione), Dodgeball Academia (Pocket Trap), Webbed (Sbug Games), Fuzz Dungeon (Jeremy Couillard)

The results will be announced during March's Games Developers Conference, where winners can scoop up a prize worth between $10,000 and $2000, and all finalists receive $1000.

"Unpacking is an irresistible thing," we said in our round-up of the best games of 2021, of which Unpacking came out on top. "Here's a puzzle game, at surface, about tidying things away, a premise that's compelling enough alone. There's something soothing about the fundamentals of neatly folding away t-shirts and socks while proudly stacking books on once empty shelves.

"Match that with the melancholy of a life packed away in cardboard boxes, the slight voyeuristic thrill of poking through someone else's possessions and the potency of a life's story told through the objects one person chooses to carry with them through the years and you have something truly potent. I've never played anything quite like Unpacking: I've never come across such human storytelling in a game that's remarkably absent of them. What an achievement this is."