30 independently developed video games across a collection of genres have been filtered down from the hundreds of eligible games.  The juries have announced the finalists for the 15th Annual Independent Games Festival.  Highlights of the chosen few are Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami, the ultra-violent, retro-synth twitch out, Subest Games’ FTL, the space-sim adventure with old-school tendencies, and cardboard Computers’ Kentucky Route Zero, a magical-realist, blue-grass adventure.

Most if not all of these games are developed with the passion, commitment, and talent of only a few individuals.  It’s always refreshing to see these dedicated developers get recognition, especially in an industry which can so easily be distracted by high-budget spectacles like the Spike TV VGAs.  Although these titles lack some of the more graphic heavy content of today’s major AAA releases, they more than make up for it in unique gameplay, captivating stories, and exquisite worlds that both delight and immerse the player.  Comprised of gameplay motivated by tone and theme and originality, these games often find an emotional or intellectual connection unique to the indie circuit.  That they do it with little to no funds is just another reason you should keep these games and their respective developers on your gaming radar (game-dar?).  I urge you to find these games and play them.  They deserve your attention and money, and they only cost a fraction of most blockbuster releases.  Besides, they are all a blast to play.

Here is a complete list of the nominated games from the Independent Games Festival website:

Seumas McNally Grand Prize
Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games)
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)

Nuovo Award
[Designed 'to honor abstract... and unconventional game development'.]
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Spaceteam (Henry Smith)
Dys4ia (Auntie Pixelante)
Bientot l’ete (Tale of Tales)
7 Grand Steps (Mousechief)
MirrorMoon (SantaRagione + BloodyMonkey)
VESPER.5 (Michael Brough)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)

Excellence In Visual Art
Incredipede (Northway Games and Thomas Shahan)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Guacamelee! (Drinkbox Studios)
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base)
Year Walk (Simogo)

Excellence In Narrative
Thirty Flights of Loving (Blendo Games)
Cart Life (Richard Hofmeier)
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Dys4ia (Auntie Pixelante)
Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)

Technical Excellence
StarForge (CodeHatch)
Perspective (DigiPen Widdershins)
Little Inferno (Tomorrow Corporation)
Intrusion 2 (Aleksey Abramenko)
LiquidSketch (Tobias Neukom)

Excellence In Design
Samurai Gunn (Beau Blyth)
FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
Starseed Pilgrim (Droqen & Ryan Roth)
Super Hexagon (Terry Cavanagh)
Super Space ______ (David Scamehorn & Alexander Baard/DigiPen)

Excellence In Audio
Kentucky Route Zero (Cardboard Computer)
Bad Hotel (Lucky Frame)
140 (Jeppe Carlsen)
Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games)
Pixeljunk 4AM (Q-Games)

The winners will be announced on March 27th during the Independent Games Summit and Game Developers Conference 2013 in San Francisco.  $60,000 worth of prize money will be awarded to the best of the independent best, with $30,000 going to the winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.    The finalists will also be offered a distribution deal on digital gaming platform, Steam.