It is once again time for the P2 crew to dish out those big awards at the end of an eventful year. As always the team can’t come to any sort of mutual agreement so we just let them pic their favourites to save the arguing. Now it is time for the Indies of the year to take the stage.
The P2 Awards 2022 - Best Indie
Matt Hewson - Weird West
The old west speaks to my personal tastes in a way that very few settings do. Add to that some intriguing occult and monster flavours and you have a recipe for a winner. Enter Weird West, an ARPG from a whole host of ex-Arkane devs, a wild isometric romp with a fantastic story, world interactivity that is second to none and some of the most thought-out choice consequences in game history. It is in many ways a game we have seen before but in many ways, something genuinely unique. There is so much to do and explore in this living and breathing world you would think this was a game built by a massive AAA company, not a small indie team. Some minor issues with the camera were hardly enough to dampen my enjoyment of this game and I can’t wait for what’s next from this talented crew.
Sarah Ellen - Dorfromantik
Don’t follow my Twitter profile, because every time that I have the opportunity to talk about Dorfromantik I shout it from the heavens. It is a sublime, cozy, gratifying, addictive tile placement game with a points system that rewards you for perfect tile placement and achieving certain missions (hey who feels like creating a forest with exactly 514 trees today? This girl does!). To either embolden or shrivel your heart, this game has a Classic Mode, Creative Mode, Quick Mode, Hard Mode, Monthly Mode, and Custom Mode. Toukana Interactive also had the audacity to announce this is going to be a board game and I am rage-squeeing at this very concept. Dorfromatik is on PC and recently released on Switch and it is just a necessary addition to your collection before 2023.
Shaun Nicholls - Sifu
Sifu blew a lot of people away with its slick Kung Fu movie feel and very difficult learning curve. A game where patience and perseverance get you a lot further than button-bashing ever will, Sifu was a true fight for every bit of progress. With a unique respawn system where your character ages with each death, it truly felt unique. Thankfully in the time since release developers, Sloclap has added in a ‘Student’ difficulty level to allow those who may not have the hours needed to master everything to make their way through the game. If you are a fan of Kung Fu movies then this is a game that you need to experience for yourself.
Paul James - Cult of the Lamb
In a year littered with excellent independently developed titles, there’s one that sheepishly pokes its head out above the sea of other superb titles, and that is Cult Of The Lamb. What Massive Monster have managed to craft is nothing short of stellar, with a tightly wound gameplay loop, gorgeous visuals, and a deadly sense of humour. The launch day bugs were even quickly swept away as well, leaving the product to put its best foot forward, and it does so with aplomb. The moment-to-moment action is extremely well balanced, from the short but sweet combat to the management of the cult – it’s all a masterclass, and pushes Cult Of The Lamb above the rest of the pack
Jess Zammit - Tunic
Even in a year filled with indecision about which games I was going to pick for these awards, this category was the hardest – but there’s one game that I played early in the year that I haven’t stopped thinking about, so it’s taking out the title. Tunic was a little game that I didn’t know much about before I jumped in, other than the fact that it was clearly incredibly aesthetically charming, and that it seemed – like Death’s Door last year – to be “Zelda but make it animal-themed”. Honestly, even though I’m probably going to keep calling it Fox Zelda, Tunic has definitely carved out its own space in the gaming landscape by managing to evoke those nostalgic feelings of truly embarking on a heroic journey with nothing to guide you but the game’s booklet and a sense of adventure. The gameplay could be punishing if you wanted it to be, but if it got too hard, the option to turn off damage was always there to allow you to experience the story and solve puzzles at your own pace, which I also deeply appreciated. Tunic encourages you to explore, drip-feeding you morsels of guidance while deliberately turning away from holding your hand too much as you progress. This game is so much deeper than I expected and made me feel so many things without using any language that I could understand. It’s beautiful. I also have to give an honourable mention to Escape Academy, which was so very nearly my choice here, and to Stray and its dedicated meow button that stole all our hearts.
Stephen del Prado - TMNT: Shredders Revenge
I’m not ashamed to admit that this is very much a guilty pleasure pick from someone who has had my love of TMNT rekindled through my son. A throwback to side-scrolling beat-em-ups of the late 80’s and early 90’s with plenty of modern concessions, Shredder’s Revenge is something no fan of the original animated series should miss, faithfully recreating many elements in a format that takes me right back to lazy Saturday mornings spent in front of a CRT television in my pyjamas. Being able to relive that with my son as we gleefully team up to take down Shredder is well worth the cost of entry, alongside the expansive story mode which provides plenty of replayability.
Rob Carporetto - Return to Monkey Island
I struggled as to whether this could be considered an indie game, but with how things fared in 2022, Return to Monkey Island certainly strikes the indie vibe for me ever so well.
Like everyone else, I was gobsmacked when this was announced a few months before its release, and on release day, just like everyone else, I rushed out to download it and be reunited with good old Guybrush.
It offers a great mix of the old, and the new – not just because of the talent involved, but also in how it goes for a distinctive art style, and a more modern approach in its gameplay.
This went a long way into making many of the puzzles far more logical to solve, instead of relying on some unorthodox approaches to taking care of them, as was a rare occurrence in the earlier games.
Ultimately, Return to Monkey Island felt like a nice warm gaming hug – offering a trip back to somewhere familiar, yet able to acknowledge that we’ve all changed since we last visited and being all the better for it.