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Road To The IGF Part 2: The Stories Behind 2022'S Top Indie Games

The Independent Games Festival Awards are coming up, and Game Developer is highlighting every nominee in the annual "Road to the IGF" series. Here is the second batch of interviews—including Inscryption, Cruelty Squad, and Papetura

Organizers of the 2022 Game Developers Conference are gearing up for the 24th annual IGF Awards—part of the longest-running festival, summit, and showcase celebrating independent games and their creators. Be sure to check out these interviews with the folks behind this year's amazing crop of games.

Breaking the results in ABRISS - build to destroy

"ABRISS - build to destroy is a game about destruction, having you build up structures only to knock them down in some spectacular fashion. And usually in such a way that you have to hit certain targets. How do you blow up a building in such a way that you hit that little target over there?"

Cooking with love in Nainai's Recipe

"Nainai's Recipe is a cooking experience that will have you learning how to cook from your grandma through texts. You'll grab ingredients from the fridge, chop them up and prepare them, all while sending messages to your grandma about the recipe and learning some of the family history behind each one."

Interpreting family, politics, and bureaucracy in Okthryssia and Saturnia's Bureaucratic Adventures

"Okthryssia and Saturnia's Bureaucratic Adventures follows a pair of siblings as they navigate their differing views on their family lives while also navigating the strange bureaucracy that stands between them and their inheritance. Players will take on an array of actions to help the siblings through, using trust, gameplay, stream of consciousness writing, and miming to make their way through the game."

Capturing small, slice-of-life moments in SmallLife

"SmallLife explores an interactive city base on Shenzen, China, hiding playful puzzles as players wander a slice out of everyday life here."

Hearing the music of a sprawling desert world in Sable

"Sable, which was nominated for Excellence in Audio at the 2022 IGF Awards, takes players to a sprawling desert world to help the title character with a rite of passage. As they explore this world of ruined spaceships and blowing sands, their hoverbike will be their constant companion and travel aid."

Crafting the web-browsing, murder-solving tools of Neurocracy

"Neurocracy is a murder mystery that plays out over a series of Wikipedia-like articles, with players able to follow a complex storyline and futuristic world as it's described on each page. As players follow links, read articles, and delve into story threads, they'll steadily unravel the sinister plot that threads through the game's events. They just have to start by grabbing a random article and seeing where it leads."

Capturing the two-sided action of Live Adventure's dual protagonists

"Live Adventure follows a pair of siblings on a platforming adventure. Players control the hopping and grappling of one character while also guiding the camera that's being held by the other character. The player will need to position their cameraman to frame the dangers their platforming sibling will face, having the pair work together to overcome any challenges they run into."

Handcrafting environments for the paper world of Papetura

"Papetura takes players to a handcrafted world made entirely out of paper, following a character that is trying to make sure its house doesn't get burned down."

How a game jam on "sacrifices" became Inscryption

"Inscryption is a compelling card game played with mysterious strangers in a house filled with puzzles and further oddities. To claim victory in these games might require an unpleasant sacrifice from your in-game character, though..."

Finding the right plant for the job in Strange Horticulture

"Strange Horticulture, which was nominated for IGF Excellence in Design, is a game of identifying and making clever use of plants to solve a town's woes (and the greater mystery surrounding it). Through finding the right plants, and then giving people the right plant for the job (or the wrong one, depending on where you want the story to go), players will steadily unravel the strange events of this gloomy place."

Exploring meaningful consequences in Unsighted

"Unsighted asks you to save yourself and your friends, but unfortunately, you're on a strict time limit. Without advance knowledge of what to do, you're going to lose some people along the way. However, you can go back and play through the game again, using what you've learned to find new shortcuts, tools, and secrets that you couldn't know before, hopefully letting you save everyone this time."

Balancing playfulness and sincerity in the "chill beats" of Toem

"Toem takes players to whimsical place of cheerful, quirky neighbors and lovely photo shoots. Using your camera skills, you'll be able to capture the silly events and happy lives of the people here, all while offering a bit of help when they're in need. A task made undeniably more appealing by the game's delightful soundtrack and audio design."

Taking a colorful journey through time in Space Hole 2020

"Space Hole 2020 is a vibrant journey through space and time, manifested through sumptuous colors and swirling visions. Distortions, surreal shapes, and brilliant lights abound as the player move through this vision, finding their own path through this beautiful existence."

Examining the amoral world of big business in Cruelty Squad

"Cruelty Squad, nominated for the Nuovo Award and Seumas McNally Grand Prize at this year's IGF Awards, puts the player to enacting nasty corporate violence in a world of lethal liquidations. Colorful, fast, and brutal, it offers surreal deaths, vicious weapons, and a look at the amoral world of big business."

Painting connections in Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery

"Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery, which was nominated for Excellence in Visual Arts in the IGF Awards, follows the life of a painter, immersing the player in their ordinary days to see their inspirations and the processes involved in creating their final work for a gallery submission."

Head here for the previous batch of interviews, and bookmark the "Road to the IGF 2022" tag on Game Developer for the latest interviews. 

Winners will be announced during the IGF Awards ceremony, taking place at the Game Developers Conference on Wednesday, March 23 at 6:30pm PT (with a simultaneous broadcast on GDC Twitch). The IGF Awards will immediately precede the Game Developers Choice Awards, which recognizes the best games of the year across all sections of game development. Both the GDCA and IGF ceremonies are available to watch for all GDC 2022 pass-holders.

GDC returns in-person to San Francisco, March 21-25—registration is now open! For more information on GDC 2022, including our virtual options, be sure to visit our website and follow the #GDC22 hashtag on social media.

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