As we waved goodbye to the now older generation of hardware, all the big publishers were bustling about trying to give their consoles the swansong game that they deserved.
Yet in between all those blockbuster games, it was the indie studios that really carried us through 2020. The budgets might have been smaller but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less deserving of the kudos given to them because let’s be honest, independent game studios are important. More than you realise even.
They keep the industry alive and create innovative experiences that AAA developers aren’t allowed to do. The indie scene is still great and it’s growing every year but right now, let’s celebrate those smaller games that really made a splash before we crown our champion. Those honourable mentions are:
BPM: Bullets Per Minute
And the winner is… Spiritfarer!
Spiritfarer is something special, the kind of game that doesn’t come along often enough. Every part of Spiritfarer worked together to create the most tangible feeling of melancholy and wonder that I just couldn’t pull myself away. Ensuring the passengers are comfortable and happy before sending them off into the world isn’t the only mechanical hook but it feels right. Developer Thunder Lotus crafted multiple stories and characters that I still reflect on today, the memory still rebounding in my head as if there were actual people that had died in my real life. That’s the point of the game, making a statement on not only the terrible sadness of death but celebrating memories and the freedom that it so often brings to people.
Not to get into spoilers (maybe it’s not a spoiler, I’ve seen quite a few big names in the industry discuss the moment) but anyone who has played Spiritfarer will no doubt remember the hedgehog passenger struggling with dementia. One of my favourite moments of the year, it was handled in a way that felt both genuine and respectable rather than the shock, in-your-face approach so many games take with this difficult subject matter. For that moment alone, Spiritfarer deserves the win, even if you don’t consider the gorgeous visuals, sound design, and writing. Spiritfarer truly is something special.
Last Updated: December 4, 2020