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Fans surprised by SXSW Game Award winners!

The SXSW Games Awards was this weekend, and it showcased many incredible titles that, in some instances, surprised audience members.

South by South West’s (SXSW) eighth annual Gaming Awards has just happened to celebrate the last year of gaming and to recognise some of the most influential titles, groups and individuals within the industry.

It is an event celebrated by fans as, in previous years, the event has been cancelled, and while there were some crowd favourites, some winners took the audience by surprise. Let’s wrap it all up right now!

SXSW 2022
Image: SXSW 2022 / SXSW

The SXSW Video Game of the Year
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker — SQUARE ENIX

This title is awarded to the game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres. The other nominees included Resident Evil Village, It Takes Two, and Psychonauts 2, but it is clear why Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker won.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is the final expansion of Final Fantasy XIV, an MMO RPG released all the way back at the end of 2010. When it was originally released, there was huge player and review push back with several issues, including performance and gameplay.

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker boss
Image: Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker / Square Enix

This resulted in the game being rebuilt from the ground up and re-released in 2012. Continued updates based on player feedback and administrative reshuffling gave Final Fantasy XIV a second life, and it has absolutely climaxed with Endwalker.

Not only did Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker walk away with Video Game of the Year from SXSW but also the award for Excellence in Original Score and Excellence in Narrative for their incredible work on music and storytelling.

Final Fantasy XIV raid party
Image: Final Fantasy XIV raid party / Square Enix

The SXSW Indie Game of the Year
Kena: Bridge of Spirits — Ember Lab

Awarded to the independently-developed game that exemplifies overall excellence and creates a distinct gaming experience across all platforms and genres, Kena: Bridge of Spirits is an action-adventure video game that follows the protagonist Kena as she explores a magical world aided by a growing team of adorable spirits called the Rot.

This new title is one that everyone needs to get their hands on as it sets the bar for what indie games can be.

The SXSW Tabletop Game of the Year
Dune: Imperium — Dire Wolf Digital / Dire Wolf Digital

This is awarded to the game that exemplifies the overall excellence and ingenuity of any tabletop game in any genre. Though it might not be the first Dune board game to come out in the last couple of years, it is definitely one of the more impressive.

If you’re a tabletop fan and have a week’s spare with friends, then this is something you need to check out.

The SXSW VR Game of the Year
Resident Evil 4 VR — Armature Studio / Oculus Studios

Awarded to the VR game that exemplifies overall excellence in gameplay and design across any VR platform, Resident Evil 4 definitely ticks the right boxes when it comes to VR games and is one of the best PS4 games of all time!

VR Games can have come a long way in the last couple of years, with some competitive models and titles joining the scene, inadvertently increasing insurance claims too. So if you’ve got an Oculus Quest 2, and you have a VR safe space set up, then jump on it.

The SXSW Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award
Unpacking — Witch Beam / Humble Games

The objective of this game is odd but equally satisfying, hence winning this award. The award is given to the game that best challenges the “norm” of everyday gaming and offers a culturally innovative view of a game world, character, or gameplay.

You might ask what is that objective, simple; you have to unpack and organise a room. That’s it. If you are very particular about where you put things, then this might be the game where you get to flex those skills to their entirety.

The SXSW Excellence in Animation, Art, & Visual Achievement
Forza Horizon 5 — Playground Games / Xbox Game Studios

This is awarded to the game with the most well-designed and stunning visuals, including animation effects and graphics. Forza titles have always been beautiful games, and this is an aspect of gaming that they continue to showcase well, especially with next-gen consoles.

If you’re a car fanatic and want to get lost in thought while cruising the countryside from your sofa, then this is a title for you.

The SXSW Excellence in Game Design
Inscryption — Daniel Mullins Games / Devolver Digital

Awarded to the game with the best overall design concept, gameplay mechanics, and best execution. This particular award surprised audiences as it was a heated bracket as the other nominees included Deathloop, Returnal, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.

Inscryption is a roguelike deck-building game where players need to utilise all of their skills to escape a mysterious cabin by beating an unknown demonic force in a card game.

The SXSW Excellence in Multiplayer
It Takes Two — Hazelight / Electronic Arts

If you are looking for a title to play with a significant other or close friend, go no further than It Takes Two. It received this award entirely because it had the best player-to-player interaction experience of any game last year.

The overall story is of love, divorce, and family as two parents on the edge of ending their relationship are transformed into clay-like dolls at their daughter’s wish. They now must explore their home from this new perspective and work together to try and get back to what they were.

The SXSW Excellence in Audio Design
Resident Evil Village — Capcom

This is awarded to the game with the most outstanding and impactful sound effects, and it is these said sound effects make Resident Evil Village terrifying. Try playing this at night alone. I dare you.

Follow Ethan Winters as they brave a village governed by mutant creatures and fearsome beings as they search for their missing daughter. I can’t play this game. I get too scared.

The SXSW Excellence in Technical Achievement
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart — Insomniac Games / Sony Interactive Entertainment

Awarded to the game that pushed the capabilities of technology and programming furthest or most effectively. I remember seeing the trailer for this title and being in absolute awe. I had to watch it a couple of times to take the whole trailer in!

This is the 16th title from the Ratchet & Clank franchise, and the expectations of such a long-lived series are 110% met in Rift Apart.