Her Story Wins Big At IGF Awards

The 18th Annual Independent Games Festival Awards have just wrapped up, with the 16th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards to follow shortly. I was at the ceremony, which took place in a preposterously large ballroom within the conference centre in San Francisco. You can find a full list of the winners, nominees and my thoughts on the outcome below.

Seumas McNally Grand Prize

Darkest Dungeon

Her Story – WINNER

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Mini Metro



Six excellent nominees and they’re a varied bunch as well. I adore Her Story so no arguments from me. It’s a smart and unusual game from a fascinating designer.

Excellence in Visual Art


Darkest Dungeon


Mini Metro



I love Mini Metro’s minimalism but OXENFREE is a very handsome game.

Excellence in Design

Her Story


Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – WINNER


Mini Metro


I did not expect Keep Talking to win but I am absolutely delighted that it did. It’s an incredibly clever game that is built around dialogue in a way that I generally associate with boardgames.

Excellence in Audio

Darkest Dungeon


Mini Metro – WINNER


That Dragon, Cancer


I was rooting for Darkest Dungeon because I wanted to hear the narrator’s voice through these massive speakers. But Mini Metro’s procedural sounds are gorgeous.

Excellence in Narrative

Black Closet

Her Story – WINNER

That Dragon, Cancer

The Beginner’s Guide

The Magic Circle


No arguments from me, although UNDERTALE or The Beginner’s Guide wouldn’t have surprised me. Her Story is a game about playing with narrative structure in such a specific way that this makes a lot of sense.

Nuovo Award

Cibele – WINNER

Fantastic Contraption

Her Story

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

orchids to dusk



The Beginner’s Guide

If this hadn’t been either Cibele or orchids to dusk I would have been surprised. Poor Her Story though. Only two.

Best Student Game

Ape Out

Beglitched – WINNER


Circa Infinity

orchids to dusk

Pitfall Planet

I confess to ignorance aobut some of these but Beglitched looks SPECTACULAR.

Audience Award

UNDERTALE. It’s only win. Judging by the crowd reaction in the room, it might have won several audience awards if the people here could have voted live tonight. Of course, the internet, which is an audience, has already decided that UNDERTALE is the best game ever.

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  1. Earl-Grey says:

    It’s funny how some folks zealous praise of Undetale makes me want to play it less.
    I’m still going to when I have the time, I just wish the Internet could dial back the hyperbole. Fucking enthusiasm, sit down and shut up already.

    • Geebs says:

      Undertale is a very good game, from about a quarter of the way in until right before the end. You do have to slog through a lot of rather tiresome in-jokes to get to the good bit, but that only takes an hour or so.

      I wouldn’t begrudge people on the internet getting far, far too enthusiastic about their new thing, really, and it’s not as if they’re not pretty easy to ignore. I will admit, though, that the hype did contribute to me spending that first hour of the game wondering when all of that hilarious fun I’d heard so much about was actually going to start.

      • aoanla says:

        Yeah, I think the problem the hype causes is that it raises wholly unrealistic expectations for Undertale, which it can’t really meet.
        (Certainly, I’ve not bothered to play past the demo, and watched about an hour of someone playing past the end of the demo without feeling particularly excited to engage in what it showed myself. But part of that might be because of the lauding of Undertale building an expectation that it should be wowing me from the start, and it simply doesn’t. Objectively, it seems to be, well, mildly amusing by about 2 hours in?)

    • Arkayjiya says:

      I can’t understand how anyone can be so susceptible to other’s opinion that they would be turn off by “zealous praise”

      Not even going into the fact that this zealous praise doesn’t even exist. It’s just praise. Because you praise what you like, and you praise a lot what you like a lot. You know, the normal way praising works. Unless you meant “zealous dismissing of critics” which is a thing that actually happens.

      • Unsheep says:

        I do think fandom can devalue a game in a person’s mind.

        If you as an outsider view a particular fanbase as overly obsessive or aggressive, it can turn you off the game simply because you do not want to be associated with this group of people.

        The games we choose to buy and play is a reflection of our self-identity or personality, as with music and clothes. If a game’s fanbase is a particularity bad match with the person you are, its rational to distance yourself from their object of adoration.

        If these people were invisible to you, for example if you don’t read reviews or visit forums, there would be no issue. However if you wish to take part in the gaming community its impossible to avoid these kind of fans, people that cluster-bomb the internet with their latest romanticized and rather juvenile obsessions.

        • Distec says:

          I don’t know why people act shocked that one’s opinion can be affected by the wider context of a product or creative work.

          Personally, I get irritated by the repetition of the experience.

          For an example from another medium: I went and saw the Deadpool film. I quite liked it. And now I am so done with the endless Chimichanga jokes and “DEADPOOL SO AWESOME” memes that still cross my social media feeds to this day.

          See also: Star Wars TFA for a while. You could enjoy the film perfectly fine and still be absolutely sick of all the Star Wars shit that was being vomited up everywhere. That’s a sentiment I’ve seen expressed by a number of RPS commenters, and I’m sure a few of the staff would empathize with that given some of their previous statements regarding this particular media phenomenon.

    • Frank says:

      It reminds me of the praise attached to Spec Ops: The Line (which I also have not played). From the outside, it sure looks like the enthusiasm is derived from how the game serves as commentary on a genre I loathe (JRPG for Undertale, and modern on-rails shooter for The Line). I’m sure it’s a healthy and/or interesting step for the genre, but that doesn’t make it a good game.

      So yeah, the *way* it is being praised is stopping me from becoming more interested.

  2. Unsheep says:

    A disappointing range of games. None of them appeal to me.
    My personal selection would include games like Blackguards 2, Kerbal Space Program, Galactic Civilizations III, Sorcerer King, Shadowrun Hong Kong, Satellite Reign, The Age of Decadence, Anno 2205, Hard West and Underrail.

  3. borvid says:

    Her Story is great but you do have a lot of fascinating stuff listed there that was seemingly not considered. Hm.

  4. killingbutterflies says:

    Some cool games there, but were only 10 games released in the last 12 months?

  5. Troubletcat says:

    I feel like Darkest Dungeon got robbed for the visual art award.

  6. Monggerel says:

    Quick reminder that Her Story was a brazen re-telling of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the writing, like in the SH game, was awful, and the lady (Viva Seifert, I think?) is not very good at acting.
    I can’t deny the actual gameplay mechanic was refreshingly unique. I just wish it was used by an otherwise decent game.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      It’s not even close to being a retelling of Shattered Memories.

      • Monggerel says:

        I suppose I could go into story details and spoil the ending of both games (THE TIGER IN SPACE!), but what’s the point.
        I just made something up and then lied through my teeth. The two games have nothing to do with each other and are in fact completely different, and furthermore, brilliant and nuanced in their own way.

        • ChrisGWaine says:

          I’m familiar with both Shattered Memories and Her Story and I suppose you are referring to the way that (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) in both the story is framed by a twist at the end as being the child of a man who had a failed marriage and then died trying to come to terms with events in relation to that (END OF SPOILERS), but while that’s an unusual similarity, you’re deluded if you think you have any kind of point in claiming Her Story is a retelling.

    • Pulstar says:

      Psst, you think it would have won anything if it had been “His” Story? :P

      • Smaug says:

        And if the main character had been a dog the title “its story” would really not have made much sense.

  7. Rince says:

    Black Closet lost… I’m sad.

  8. cheesyboy says:

    Bit odd that Mini Metro and Keep Talking also appeared in the 2015 awards honorable mentions.

  9. anHorse says:

    How the fuck did it win narrative? That’s the area of the game where Her Story totally falls apart

    • Pulstar says:

      Because it’s “her” story.

    • Oozo says:

      Emily Short mentioned the inherent problem when awarding the “narrative” award in a blog post in which she explained how she tries to judge games: depending on your take on it, it’s both awarded for formal aspects (how does the game tell a story, how does it use the potential of the medium in that regard etc.) and the content (what story is actually being told).

      I’d absolutely agree that the game has its problems in the latter category — it’s definitely more pulp than it can get away with, IMHO. It is formally inventive, though, and the judges for this category did not necessarily know that the game would get a bunch of other, maybe more appropriate awards.

      Also, the game lays its narrative cards on the table at once, something which is always an advantage when it comes to judges and their limited time.