Debug Announces 2024 Indie Game Awards Show Nominees

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The Debug Indie Game Awards, sponsored by Press Engine, is a brand new award show starting in 2024. It is taking place in Nottingham, UK on February 2nd and features an exhibit floor, developer talks and the awards themselves. Debug are a group dedicated to shining a light on indie games and the people that make them. As well as sponsored shows, such and the awards, another way they do that is by releasing a quarterly magazine. It is absolutely packed with previews, reviews, interviews, and nods to loads of games. And is set to become 16 pages bigger from Issue 4 later this month. If you’re not a subscriber but love indie games, check them out.

Bug Gets Excited For The Debug Awards

Leading up to the show, Debug have announced the nominees for 16 of the award categories. Let’s take a look at who made the cut!

Safe in our World Award for Mental Health

First up is one of two sponsored awards. Safe in our World are a charity whose mission it is to foster mental health awareness, and eliminate any stigma around the topic, within the games industry. Fittingly, this award is focused on highlighting games that have positive representations of mental health.

Nominees

  • Fall of Porcupine
  • The Last Worker
  • A Space For The Unbound
  • Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
  • Videoverse
  • The Wreck

Everyone Can Award for Accessibility

Another sponsored award next, this time from Everyone Can; a charity helping disabled people to live independently and have fun. Thankfully we’re seeing accessibility become an increasing priority in video game development and these next games have been nominated to recognise their work in making game more accessible in 2023.

Nominees

  • C-Smash VRS
  • Cocoon
  • The Forest Cathedral
  • Stories of Blossom
  • Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
  • Videoverse
Videoverse – Developer: Kinmoku – Publisher: Kinmoku

Best Soundtrack

I always love when I can extend my experience with a fantastic game after playing it by having the soundtrack on repeat for a few weeks. Although not nominated here, two games I reviewed in 2023 received this honour; Goodbye Volcano High and Laika: Aged Through Blood. Seems I have 6 more games to track down as per the nominees below!

Nominees

  • Alien Hominid Invasion
  • Cocoon
  • El Paso, Elsewhere
  • Loddlenaut
  • Tchia
  • Wildfrost

Best Sound Design

Recognising not the soundtrack but instead the audio effects, voice acting and/or atmospheric sound design, we have the Best Sound Design Award. This is always a good area to highlight achievements in as if done well, sound design should almost be unnoticeable to the player, maintaining their immersion in the world of the game.

Nominees

  • Beyond The Long Night
  • Cocoon
  • Everspace 2
  • Tchia
  • Teleforum
  • Tin Hearts

Best Art Direction

Moving on now to celebrating the visual design of games that released in 2023. If there’s one thing you can count on indie games for it’s their strong sense of visual character. From Minit to Sayonara Wild Hearts, Ghost Bike to A Highland Story, and many more, indie games are known for running the gamut of design styles.

Nominees

  • Cocoon
  • El Paso, Elsewhere
  • The Last Worker
  • Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
  • Wildfrost
  • World of Horror
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical – Developer: Summerfall Studios – Publisher: Humble Games

Best Gameplay

Gameplay! We could debate whether or not it is the most important ingredient of a video game, but it’s certainly very near the top. These nominees have been chosen based on having a fun and engaging gameplay loop.

Nominees

  • C-Smash VRS
  • Cassette Beasts
  • Cocoon
  • El Paso, Elsewhere
  • Everspace 2
  • Pizza Possum

Best Narrative

I love a game with a good story to dig in to, whether it’s the primary focus or something to be teased out little by little. The following nominees appear on the merit of their story-telling chops.

Nominees

  • American Arcadia
  • Goodbye Volcano High
  • The Last Worker
  • Teleforum
  • This Bed We Made
  • Videoverse

Best VR Game

A late edition to the Debug Indie Game Awards categories, owing to popular demand. Best VR Game showcases some of the best examples of titles available in this ever-growing technologic area.

Nominees

  • C-Smash VRS
  • Colorway Antics
  • Elysium Trials
  • Gazzlers
  • The Last Worker
  • Noun Town: VR Language Learning
C-Smash VRS – Developers: Wolf & Wood, RapidEyeMovers – Publisher: RapidEyeMovers

Innovation & Creativity Award

Indie games regularly push the boundaries of gameplay and express a creative freedom that is sometimes difficult for bigger, established studios to try. With that in mind, next up we have an award for games that demonstrate trying something special in their design that elevates the way we play, interact with or view them.

Nominees

  • Cocoon
  • Death Unphased
  • Direct Drive
  • Make Way
  • Noun Town: VR Language Learning
  • Slay The Princess

Free Play Award

Developers that create and release games that are free to play and not littered with ads and microtransactions are literal angels. Even if you’re short on money you needn’t necessarily be short on entertainment with the games below. The platform on which you can find these titles is listed alongside their name below, so go grab yourself a bargain!

Nominees

  • An Arcade Full of Cats (Steam)
  • Blooddome Classic (Steam)
  • Iron Guard: Homecoming (Meta Store)
  • The Mountain Is As It Always Was (itch.io)
  • Teleforum (Steam)
  • Time Survivors: Chapter 0 (Steam)

Physical Release of the Year

This category is close to my heart, despite me not owning any of these nominees. Physical media, in games and otherwise, is deathly important for preservation and longevity. It’s an unfortunate trend that we’re heading further into a digital only age with discless consoles and streaming services – but that’s a conversation for another day. Let’s see the nominees for best Physical Release of the Year.

Nominees

  • Cuphead: Collector’s Edition
  • Everspace 2: Stellar Edition
  • Full Void: Special Edition
  • The Last Worker: Jüngle Pronto Edition
  • Sword and Fairy: Together Forever
  • Tchia: Oléti Edition
A render of the items included in the physical product for Sword and Fairy: Together Forever - Premium Collector's Edition by Serenity Forge. This includes the physical game, SteelBook, chipboard character standees, a soundtrack CD, plushie, playing cards, postcard set and deskmat.
Sword and Fairy: Together Forever – Premium Collector’s Edition by Serenity Forge

Retro World Award

The retro revival is real. More and more often we’re seeing new software released for older, unsupported systems such as the NES and GameBoy.  These nominees are available on older systems, whether by being the original release version or subsequently being ported to them.

Nominees

  • Chew Chew Mimic
  • Doodle World Redrawn
  • Driving Strikers
  • Mr. Run and Jump 2600
  • Skatecat
  • Super Block’em Sock’em

ICYMI Award

As this is the first year of the Debug Indie Game Awards, many great indie titles have come and gone without the chance to win an award. Fear not, Debug has it covered with this publicly nominated award for any game that released prior to 2023.

Nominees

  • Kombinera
  • Lucy Dreaming
  • Outer Wilds
  • Rain World
  • The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow
  • Xeno Crisis

Best New Studio

This award is for the best studio that released their first game in 2023, regardless of when the studio was set up. I’ve listed out the game title the studio released in 2023 in parentheses next to name so you can see at a glance what they are.

Nominees

  • Critical Rabbit (Fall of Porcupine)
  • Galaxy Grove (Station to Station)
  • Geometric Interactive (Cocoon)
  • Monumental Collab (Teleforum)
  • Pixelpogo (Super Catboy)
  • RapidEyeMovers (C-Smash VRS)
Cocoon – Developer: Geometric Interactive – Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Subscribers’ Choice Award

As alluded to in the award name, this set of nominees, and eventual winner, is decided by Debug magazine subscribers.

Nominees

  • Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
  • Cocoon
  • Full Void
  • Pizza Tower
  • Sea of Stars
  • Viewfinder

Most Anticipated Award

An absolutely mammoth category closes things out for us in this list. Showcasing 24, yes twenty-four, indie games due to release this year or later. If you’re checking these out, make sure you wishlist them wherever you can to help the developers with those silly store algorithms. Also, please forgive me for not bullet pointing these, I’m running out of screen!

Nominees

Alaloth: Champions of the Four Kingdoms | Aloft | Boss Fighters | Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles | Copycat | DarkWebStreamer | Doggy Don’t Care | Flea! 2 | Flintlock: The Siege of Dawn | Foolish Mortals | Heir of the Dog | Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends | Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island | Nowhere Manor | Parcel Corps | Please, Touch the Artwork 2 | Sleepytime Village | Space Boat | Spirit City: LoFi Sessions | Still Wakes The Deep | Stories From Sol: The Gun-Dog | The Wandering Village | World of Goo 2 | Yes, Your Grace: Snowfall

That’s Not All Folks

Alongside those listed above, there are 2 further awards; Unsung Hero Award and Debug Game of the Year. Winners of both these awards are chosen solely by Debug staff. The Unsung Hero Award will be given to an individual or team that has improved the world of indie gaming, with little or no public recognition for their efforts. Examples of this could be something like developing an open-source game engine or providing accessibility tools etc.

If you’re wanting to watch along on the night, the Debug Indie Game Awards show will be livestreamed on YouTube via Debug’s channel here. Thumb Culture will be in attendance at the exhibit and show and we’ll endeavour to bring you news of the winners and any cool games we get hands-on with. Thank you for reading and best of luck to all the nominees – we’re very excited to see you all on the day.

 

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About Author

Dad, Coder, Gamer, Millennial. aka MillennialBug My favourite games include Hollow Knight, Celeste, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Hades, FFVII, Life is Strange, Shadow of Modor and many others!

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