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Sam Barlow's Her Story is an interactive fiction tale utilizing full-motion video clips of an actress portraying characters that offers players hints and tips about a much larger crime. The game has been universally praised by most mainstream critics and has even managed to walk away with the grand prize IGF award.
In the press release it's revealed that the Independent Games Festival – a side-event that runs alongside the Game Developers Conference each year – awarded Sam Barlow with $30,000 for the game Her Story. It walked away with the grand prize for indie games released in 2015. The title was quickly adopted by a lot of curious gamers who found the taped confession method for unraveling the story to be a unique approach to storytelling and character development. The Game Awards also found the story and design approach unique enough to hand out a few awards to the game during last year show.
Her Story wasn't the only game recognized and awarded at the IGF this year. Several other notable games also managed to get a nod from the organization as well, including the Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which received an Excellence in Design award. The title is an inventive little multiplayer game where players must work together to disarm a bomb before it blows up. It's a hilarious and unique approach to cooperative gameplay and it's not surprising that it would win the Excellence in Design award.
Night School Studio's Oxenfree also managed to walk away with some award season recognition, receiving the Excellence in Visual Art award for the point-and-click adventure game about teenagers who go on a little getaway only to find themselves trapped in a paradoxical time rift where unimaginable horrors take place. Part of its charm was in the fact that the dialogue flows very naturally in Oxenfree, almost as if the conversations are actually happening in real life. It's a very different approach to the sometimes slow and disjointed dialogue sequences in some of Telltale games like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones.
One of the more popular indie games released in 2015 was the highly talked about Undertale from indie dev Toby Fox, which received the Audience Award after being voted for as the best indie of 2015 by the general public. The game really set a huge standard in how battles, friendships and enemies unfold over the course of a game. Players are put in a position where they don't have to kill any of the enemies they encounter in the RPG. Instead, Undertale allows players to befriend those they fight and eventually deal with the consequences of those they let live and those they kill over the course of the game. The appeal of Undertale is all about the choices players can make and the consequences that spawn from those choices.
It's kind of a real shame that more games don't explore the kind of choice-driven options that were present in Undertale. To a lesser extent we see that play out in games like Mass Effect, The Witcher or Baldur's Gate, but the point of those consequences was really driven home in Fox's Undertale.
Nevertheless, the main winner from this year's IGF was Her Story and the game managed to not only take home the grand prize but also an additional Excellence in Narrative award where Barlow managed to add an extra $3,000 on top of the $30,000 that was received for landing the Grand Prize at the IGF. You can learn more about the winners and the entrants by visiting the official IGF website.