Indie Hell Zone: Game of the Year 2021 Nominations

Folks, we’re approaching that season of the year: Game of the Year season, where outlets and institutions declare what was the best of the best. Here at Indie Hell Zone, I refuse to make a list because besides the few paid contributions from other people, this is a one-person show and I couldn’t focus on things that were released only this year.

That said, my top three in ascending order is Super Auto Pets, Cruelty Squad and OMORI, thank you.

So, the Game of the Year list is up to you, the readers! Or whoever else wanders onto this site, I guess.

In the past, Indie Hell Zone’s game of the year lists were decided by write-in votes and the results kept ending up in multiple tie-breakers. So this year, I’ll do something a bit different. Until December 1st, everyone casts a write-in nomination. Anything that gets at least three nominations will then be put into a multiple-choice poll that will run from December 1st to December 24th, and hopefully, this system will give much clearer results compared to the last times I did this.

So obviously, only indie games that released this year counts for this poll; though, ones that came out so late to not be considered by 2020 stuff like OMORI and stuff that got big updates that essentially redefine the game like the second chapter of Deltarune also counts. You may ask, “does Inscryption count as indie? Could anything published by Devolver Digital be considered indie anymore considering that they’re now a public company worth almost $1 billion?” Please don’t stress me out. I am barely keeping myself together. Just let the votes decide or just refer to this tweet as reference:

Also, last year, I banned Hades from getting voted on because it was too good of a game and would have swept everything. I’m not going to do such a ban this year! Because 1, a few people thought it was too mean and 2, because I show off stuff that’s in 2nd and 3rd place, a clean sweep wouldn’t feel as disappointing as it would be in any other awards thing.

I can’t believe The Last of Us 2 won so many things from The Game Awards for something that’s failed to leave a lasting impression.

So, for a brief overview, the categories will be as follows:

  • Best Gameplay: For some people, gameplay is strictly what defines their experience with a game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Whether it’s a unique experience or something familiar that’s really well-polished, this is all about the fun you have playing something.
  • Best Story: There are many ways for a game to tell a story, whether through a visual novel experience or something conveyed through Environmental Storytelling(TM). Regardless of how a story is expressed, I wanna hear what you consider to be the best story this year.
  • Best Art Direction: Best Art Direction doesn’t just mean how good a game looks, but also how well the art is integrated with the game experience as a whole. You know, stuff like Limbo’s monochrome art style helping establish the game’s oppressive tone.
  • Best Soundtrack: Who doesn’t like nice jams? Cowards. Remember the last several times when The Game Awards just relegated their best music category as something to mention in-between other categories with little fanfar? Fucked up.
  • Most Interesting: So, this is a more wild card category that can overlap with others. Something that is “interesting” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “good.” It could be a game with unique gameplay ideas that aren’t necessarily implemented well. It could cross over a bit with the Story category in that it can be an experience that’s absolutely boring to play through while offering a genuinely engaging narrative that makes playing it worth it.
  • Best Overall: You know, the game of the year that’s just The Best.

So, with that out of the way, please submit your nominations! I do not ask for e-mails or whatever because privacy is important. Also, I guess there’s nothing stopping people from stuffing the nominations, but also, I don’t see why you would. I have no legitimacy and in fact I’m pretty sure I’m blacklisted over getting mad at Kotaku’s irresponsible coverage of Nathalie Lawhead so (shrug). Let’s all have fun.

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