Games that don’t need the budget of a AAA blockbuster to be impactful, fun, or enthralling. Independent games can do what no big-budget game can do: be anything they want.
Introduced last year replacing Most Surprising Game, this award is now all about celebrating indie games. The weird. The wild. The interesting. And the fascinating games that can be made when you go indie.
These days, however, there are more and more indie publishers around, some are associated with AAA publishers. And then there are also the “B-tier” publishers- not necessarily indie but their games can be in-between indie and AAA, both in terms of scope, scale and budget. So the term “indie” here can now be loosely interpreted. For us here, as long as it has an “indie spirit”- the game tackling something not seen in the AAA space and are doing so with a noticeably lower scope, scale and budget.
Best Indie Game Nominees
- Chinatown Detective Agency
- Citizen Sleeper
- Vampire Survivors
How The Winner Is Decided (Deliberations Summary)
Link to the full podcast episode featuring the deliberations will be added soon
More than half of our Top 30 games of 2022 are classified as indies. 17 games. Narrowing down that selection to our arbitrary five-nominee limit, then picking the winner, is expectedly a long drawn-out conversation.
What we settled for the top 5 was a selection of indies that are doing something that is radically different and unique. For bringing new ways of play, or for bringing an old idea of play with a new spin. That meant some upsets- no Roll7 games make the cut here, for example.
Chinatown Detective Agency brings a new spin to the point-and-click adventure. This year did see some big appearances of the point-and-clicks, heck Monkey Island made a Return. But this game’s main trick- requiring you to look up real-world information to progress through this globe-trotting investigation- makes it stand out.
In a similar vein, GigaBash brings back another old idea- kaiju battle games. Its simple but decently deep combat and extravagant presentation keep it here despite the technical issues and bugs early at launch.
Citizen Sleeper keeps the dice rolling for non-combat RPGs. The strength of its writing (as evident in winning Best Story) isn’t the only thing carrying this game.
Teardown does what gamers dream of AAA games doing (and possibly a nightmare for the devs to accomplish this)- complete and utter destruction as a system. And the fact that the main game is actually a heist puzzle/speedrun game makes it even more fascinating, and something no big game would dare to.
But the choice of a winner is easy. A trailblazer that sets off a new genre of games. A satisfying experience with limited button presses. And idle game but with extra steps. As cathartic as mowing down the lawn. As rewarding as winning the jackpot.
Numbers go up. Numbers go up. Numbers go up.’
Best Indie Game Winner
Congratulations to Vampire Survivors for winning Best Indie Game!
Check out the GM GOTY Awards 2022 hub for the rest of the categories and winners. The page will be updated as we announce the winners every day until December 31.