First Indie Prize Showcases: Everything We Know about Them

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First Indie Prize Showcase

The very first Indie Prize (IP) was quite original. A small number of indie developers have gathered here, but what games they show will be the envy of even modern authors. Many of them have been undeservedly forgotten. Today we’ll dive into the immersive universe of unique indie projects from the beginning of the IP. You’ll find out everything about three major events, what exactly they are so remarkable for and what imprint those titles left on those Showcases. So, ready to dive into a new world and redefine what gaming means to you?

Kyiv 2013

The first Indie Prize event was in 2013 in Kyiv. Then there was no such colossal and epic that we will see only in the future, but the event surprised us with its quality and the games shown. At that time, there were only a couple of sponsors, namely Tango and Playfirst Studio, who gave guidance to beginner developers and cash prizes. Let’s take a look at the projects!

The Inner World: Breathing Life into Handmade Worlds

With an art style that harks back to the golden era of animation, “The Inner World” is a point-and-click adventure that mesmerizes with its intricate hand-drawn environments. The game propels players into the surreal world of Asposia, a universe located in the hollow space of a seemingly infinite wind tunnel. Your journey as Robert, a naïve court musician, unfolds in the beautifully crafted cityscape, with puzzles and witty dialogues bridging the gap between the fantastical and the relatable. 

The project’s plot is not only riveting but also filled with poignant social commentary, giving it a profound depth seldom seen in the genre. Largely due to this, “The Inner World” became a critical darling at the IP, acquiring the “Best in Show” prize and winning the gamers’ love, thanks to which a sequel was later released.

Speedrunners: Where Velocity Meets Versatility

“Speedrunners” is a fast-paced multiplayer project published by Tiny Build, perfectly encapsulating the thrill of the chase. With its accessible mechanics and high skill ceiling, it has carved out a niche among competitive platformers.

Players navigate a side-scrolling environment intending to outrun their opponents. Obstacles, power-ups, and level design blend to create a dynamic experience, which tests your reflexes and strategy. The visual style is vibrant and exciting, matching the pulsating energy of the gameplay. 

“Speedrunners” successfully captures the essence of speed, competition, and accessibility, making it a standout indie title. During the IP itself, the game gathered little love from the public. But in the fall of 2014, “Speedrunners” became a real hit, thanks to the YouTubers who played it. In honor of some of them, special in-game skins were even made, and such lucky ones turned out to be Markiplier, Peanut Butter Gamer, Cinnamon Toast Ken, PewDiePie, and more.

Riot Runners: A Dynamic Spin on Endless Running

“Riot Runners” takes the familiar endless runner genre and adds an intriguing dystopian layer to it. Players find themselves in a world overtaken by a robotic uprising. They must continually run, dodge, and fight their way through a ceaseless stream of challenges.

This project transforms a simple concept into an exciting and visually rich experience. Incorporating platform elements and combat mechanics into the classic endless runner formula, “Riot Runners” broadens the genre’s possibilities, making each run a unique test of skill and strategy.

Gamers liked it so much that this project won the “Audience Choice Award.” This small success of Room 8 Studios has led them to where they are today — a big support studio that contributed to Deathloop, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Returnal, Age of Empires IV, Halo Infinite, and even more AAA games.

Nihilumbra: The Art of Survival in a Painted Universe

“Nihilumbra” is a 2D puzzle platformer that pushes the boundaries of narrative and aesthetic innovation in gaming. As players traverse through five different worlds, they manipulate the environment using colors, each bestowing a unique property, thereby offering a new perspective on puzzle-solving.

Each stage of “Nihilumbra” echoes with profound existential questions, seamlessly merging the gameplay with a reflective narrative. The beautiful hand-painted art style, coupled with the game’s somber atmosphere, offers a unique gaming experience beyond mere entertainment. Event hosts were surprised by the concept of such an unusual title, which served as an award for Best Innovation.

The Silent Age: Time Travel and Tense Thrills

“The Silent Age” is a point-and-click adventure that brings a riveting sci-fi narrative to the forefront. Players follow the story of Joe, a janitor living in the 70s, who stumbles upon a dying man from the future and a device, which allows him to travel through time. In this title, the silent protagonist navigates through a desolate future landscape, solving puzzles and piecing together the story of humanity’s downfall. 

The project’s time-travel mechanic, minimalist visual style, and immersive narrative make “The Silent Age” an engaging experience and a testament to the potential of indie storytelling. And it is obvious that it didn’t pass the critics and got the “Best Narrative Award” during the Indie Prize Showcase.

Haunt the House: Terrortown — Spooky Fun with a Purpose

“Haunt the House: Terrortown” turns the tables on the traditional ghost story. Players take control of a ghost tasked with scaring away the inhabitants of various locations in a charmingly rendered ghost town. 

With its simple mechanics and charming art style, “Haunt the House: Terrortown” is a delightful game that ingeniously uses its ghostly premise to create an engaging puzzle-solving experience. This title beautifully encapsulates a lighthearted, spooky aesthetic from its whimsical animations to its eerie soundtrack.

The title got an award for best Art at the IP, and we can still confirm the victory on its page on Steam. Not so long ago, the studio released Tangle Tower, which is no less surprising with its approach to visuals.

USA 2013

Thanks to the first financial successes and the emergence of new investors, the Indie Prize reached the United States of America territory, where no less intriguing projects were shown.

Guns of Icarus: Aerial Combat Like No Other

“Guns of Icarus” is an online multiplayer project, and it shines with its cooperative gameplay centered on steampunk airship combat. Players are grouped into crews, each person taking on a specific role, including Pilots, Gunners, and Engineers. The title focuses on teamwork and communication, setting it apart from typical competitive shooters. On release, the project managed over a hundred thousand players, becoming one of the most significant projects on the platform.

The uniqueness of “Guns of Icarus” lies in its real-time strategy elements and the immersive experience of manning an airship. Every battle becomes a test of coordination, strategy, and quick decision-making. This title is a standout example of the potential of cooperative multiplayer experiences and the exciting possibilities of steampunk aesthetics. The event’s judges also liked it, which led to the developers receiving the “Best Desktop Game Award.”

Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams: The Power of Transformation

“Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams” is a platformer in which the power of transformation wields to deliver a unique gaming experience. Players switch between two parallel dimensions, each featuring different versions of the game’s protagonist and distinct environmental variations.

Giana’s character transformation isn’t just an aesthetic change — it dramatically impacts gameplay. Depending on her form, she can either twirl over obstacles or dash through them, introducing a new layer of strategy to platforming. These dual dimensions extend to the title’s stunning art and sound design, which change to match Giana’s form. For the latter technology, the title won the IP Award, impressing critics and gamers alike.

8bitMMO: Create, Collaborate, and Conquer

“8bitMMO” is an indie construction sandbox game, and it lets players shape the world around them pixel by pixel. Its retro aesthetic and interactive features are reminiscent of classic MMOs while incorporating elements of open-world sandbox projects.

What sets “8bitMMO” apart is its player-driven economy and the freedom to build almost anything, from humble houses to grand cities. Players can collaborate or compete, fostering a dynamic community within the game. The blend of nostalgia and innovation makes “8bitMMO” a one-of-a-kind sandbox experience. Back in the day, this title took the gaming industry by storm with its power and imagination. And at the Indie Prize, this project was able to win the Director’s Choice Award easily.

Amsterdam 2014

And the final surviving records are about the last quarterly event in Amsterdam in 2014. Already here, you can see the success of thriving shows at the Indie Prize because there are dozens of times more sponsors, among which we can even mention PS Vita (as Sony), Facebook, Everyplay, Plantronics, and more.

Reus: The Power of Creation and Destruction

“Reus” is a game about becoming a world god that captivates players by offering control over nature itself. Players can mold the planet to their will, creating mountains, oceans, forests, and more in a beautifully rendered 2D world.

One aspect that sets “Reus” apart is its delicate balance between creation and destruction. Each decision impacts the world’s ecosystems and inhabitants, leading to complex strategic gameplay. This approach has not gone unnoticed, earning “Reus” the “Best Desktop Game Award” in IP Showcase in 2014. The project’s artful depiction of environmental dynamics, wrapped in a package of lush visuals and a soothing soundtrack, provides a thought-provoking experience and is pleasing to the senses.

Icycle on Thin Ice: A Journey of Heart and Humor

“Icycle on Thin Ice” is a unique platformer that uses humor, surreal landscapes, and a touching narrative to create an unforgettable journey. The title revolves around the adventures of Dennis, a naked hero navigating a frozen world on his small bicycle.

“Icycle on Thin Ice” is famed for its extraordinary art style, blending stark minimalistic landscapes and wacky, surreal elements. The BAFTA-nominated designer, Damp Gnat, manages to take players on a heartwarming journey full of humor and unexpected turns, all the while challenging them with inventive-level design and clever puzzles. “Icycle on Thin Ice” exemplifies how a game can be both visually stunning and emotionally resonant. The judges were impressed by the title’s minimalist and quirky art style and couldn’t resist giving an award for it during the IP.

Detective Grimoire: Unraveling Mysteries with Style

In the realm of point-and-click adventure titles, “Detective Grimoire” shines with its unique take on the detective genre. At the Indie Prize, the authors of “Haunt the House: Terrortown” showed their next project, which in the future served as a prototype for Tangle Tower. And it was once again a finalist for Excellence in Narrative, reinforcing its reputation as a standout title in the indie scene.

Players take on the role of the eponymous Detective Grimoire, tasked with solving a murder mystery in a secluded tourist attraction, the marshes of Boggy’s Bog. “Detective Grimoire” is recognized for its compelling storytelling, unique character interactions, and intricate puzzle designs. Combined with its charming hand-drawn art style and voice acting, these elements immerse players in a mysterious world ripe for exploration. 

Concluding the Indie Exploration

Every single title from this list provides a unique gaming experience that differentiates them from mainstream titles. They champion creativity, innovation, and storytelling, redefining our perceptions of what video games can offer. Their appearance at the first Indie Prize Showcases made the event noticed by other developers and even large investors. And even to this day, returning to these projects, you can see how large studios and publishers were born.

Thanks for reading! Owl is flying away.

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