In November of 2020, I had the opportunity to announce the beginning of a brand new indie competition called Unfold Games Awards. You can read about it here. It was organized by Wlad Marhulets, creator of the hit title DARQ, which was nominated and won numerous awards competing with triple-A titles such as Borderlands 3, Death Stranding, The Last of Us Part II, and others. Since the initial release of DARQ's, Unfold Games has become a well-known studio with a strong fanbase. It's impressive to see how quickly Unfold Games has grown in the last few years. During the short lifespan of Unfold Games, the company has already made its mark on the industry.
Amid the pandemic, which hopefully will end soon, Unfold Games teamed up with Intel, Unity, Pixologic, and other sponsors to organize the largest (as far as we’re aware) free-to-enter competition for indie game developers. With a total prize value of over $170,000, Unfold Games Awards attracted the attention of nearly half a thousand developers. The idea is simple: to help fellow indie developers with what they need the most (funding, exposure, hardware, software, legal services, and getting a little bit of love from the influencers and the press). The entries were judged by an esteemed panel of industry veterans, influencers, and media members. As a juror for the Unfold Games Awards, I was able to play numerous games by talented, often first-time, developers. Now that the voting period concludes, I’m excited to share the list of winners with you.
Unfold the sponsors
Every winner will receive a NUC computer (courtesy of Intel), a 2021 ZBrush License (courtesy of Pixologic), a Unity Asset Store discount code (courtesy of Unity). Additionally, the Best Game Award winner will receive one US federal trademark application service (courtesy of the McArthur Law Firm). Also, the winners of the Best Sound Design and the Best Music awards will receive $2,500 in cash (courtesy of FMOD). The $150,000 funding prize will go to a developer of an unreleased game (courtesy of Integral Capital). I'm happy to report that one developer is currently negotiating a funding deal with the sponsor. Last but not least, all games that were nominated for an award will be gifted a copy of the critically acclaimed audiobook by Wlad Marhulet's "GAMEDEV: 10 Steps to Making Your First Game Successful,"narrated by YongYea - a famous YouTube personality and a talented voice actor.
Unfold the winners
The entries were judged in 12 categories. Each category ended up having five nominees, out of which one winning title was selected, while the rest became "honorable mentions." The only exception was the Audience Award. As the title suggests, it was chosen by the audience through a voting period that started on May 1st and lasted for two weeks. The most significant honor of all was to win the Best Game Award, as it represents excellence in every aspect of game development. For this reason, I'll review the winner of the Best Game Award in a separate article.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
Congratulations to 'GoodbyeWorld Games' for your title Before Your Eyes for winning the Best Game Award!
This indie gem is the only entry to win not one but four awards. The game won the Best Game Award and the Best Debut Game Award, the Innovation Award, and the Best Narrative Award. This has to be one of the unique games I have played in a long time. The narrative reeled me in, and the original ability to control the game with the blinks flawlessly detected by a webcam kept me immersed in the story throughout. The experience left me speechless. This indie gem pulled my heartstrings, unlike not many other games. I didn't cry playing this game….okay, maybe a little bit. You can watch the trailer here.
Audience Award Winner: Tadpole Tales
The 2D Hand Drawn Clean 'em Up Tadpole Tales is about a tadpole cleaning rivers while fighting pollution and other bugs. In this 2D adventure, you get to play in three different froggy forms based on your health, with wave-like patterns of enemies. It is a short yet pleasant experience that anyone can pick up and put in their library for free. You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Andrei Zi Zhen Cretu, Giacomo Autili, Tomer Barnea
Publisher: Pinnical Studio
Best Art Direction: The Falconeer
Soar through the skies aboard an all-powerful Warbird known as a Falconeer. Uncover secrets lost to the sea in a fast-paced open-world air combat game as you join or oppose different factions and clans scattered throughout The Great Ursee in an incredible fantasy world. Take advantage of multiple Falconeer classes with individual stats, weapons, and warbirds that can be upgraded through completing quests, winning battles, completing quests, applying Mutagens, Chants, and discovering secrets. Use ocean thermals and energy for diving, dodge, barrel-roll, and twist to gain an advantage. You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Tomas Sala
Publisher: Wired Productions
Best Game Design: Gem Wizard Tactics
A turn-based strategy game and randomly generated maps among funky asymmetrical factions is just the beginning for Gem Wizards Tactics! Designed around endless single-player play, Gem Wizards Tactics has three factions, each with their own exclusive abilities, combining within factions while also picking up units from other factions and combining them into your army to create unheard-of new strategies! You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Keith Burgun Games
Best Level Design: Time Loader
Time Loader is a physics-based and story-driven puzzle platformer with a new take. You are a small robot; you’ll travel back to the 90s to prevent a tragic accident as you explore the house of your creator, acquire unique and powerful upgrades, solving brain-teasing puzzles from commonly used household items in a new perspective! You can watch the trailer here.
Publisher: META Publishing
Best Character Design: Grime
Grime is set in an unknown world; an alien in its familiarity must have you survive what terrors arise before you. Delve into surreal surroundings, absorb the hellish creatures you encounter while you gain new abilities doing so. Move through various environments, discover the source of madness and all this game's unique inhabitants. You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Clover Bite
Publisher: Akupara Games
Best Animation: Guinea Pig Parkour
Guinea Pig Parkour is an entirely hand-drawn 2D platformer with adventure elements, drawing heavy inspiration from '90s animated cartoons and games. It is animated and wholly developed by one artist, Jeff Mumm, and features music and SFX by Fat Bard.
Run, jump, swing, flip, vault, climb, crawl, and parkour through classic platformer-inspired levels. Talk to, interact with, help, and annoy a host of funny characters as you progress through a "lost '90s cartoon episode." You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Jeff Mumm
Best Sound Design Award: Broken Pieces
An action-packed adventure with investigative take set in France is where your investigation begins in this indie title, Broken Pieces. This Resident Evil-style game immerses you in the shoes of Elise, a young woman in her mid-thirties living in the village of Saint-Exil. Elise is stuck in a time loop and is alone, as you encounter unexplained paranormal phenomenon, as you relive the same day over again. Your investigation begins here. You can watch the trailer here.
Developer: Elseware Experience
Best Music Award: Good Night, Knight
Become the one and only - courageous, honorable, and an exhausted Knight of the Holy Divers. Your story begins when the ancient evil has been overturned, the princess has been rescued, and the knight is now retired. You awaken from the top of the mysterious underworld spire after falling to your death. Go forth, Holy Diver, it's - definitely - all up to you to regain your memories and save the world, again. You can watch the trailer here.
Publisher: No Gravity Games
Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions of the first annual Unfold Games Awards. What an experience this has all been! Countless hours were spent playing your creations among myself and the other judges. As for all who submitted their solo or small studio developer entries, don’t give up! There were many entries that didn’t end up getting a nomination yet were of extremely high quality. My fingers are crossed for the second edition of Unfold Games Awards next year. Let’s all thank the generous sponsors and the esteemed judges for making the first edition of the Unfold Games Awards possible. Last but not least, a thank you to Wlad Marhulets, who made all this happen, CEO and Founder of Unfold Games. If you would like to watch the announcement for all the winners for the first annual Unfold Games Awards hosted by Trisha Hershberger, click here.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.