Whew! This year the Nordic Indie Sensation had almost a hundred game submissions. The jury included CPHGC members, past winners as well as game thinkers and critics; their task has been to evaluate each entrant on its own merits. When selecting for a category as nebulous as “Indie Sensation”, even without taking the diversity of submitted games into account, that has been a challenge. An exciting one.

Just like every year, we have no intention of promoting our shortlist  as “The Eight Best Nordic Indie Games”. We have instead tried to celebrate the diversity that we found in the submissions – you’ll find larger and smaller projects, made by newly established as well as experienced studios, released and in development. In this competition, we are not looking for what is on top of the ladder, rather we go digging for the creamy filling which sits at the core of exactly what Nordic indie games are to us. Common to all of them is that they have a hearty experimental core, that they try for something out of the ordinary, be it a novel aestethic, a twist on an old mechanic, a fresh narrative, or are just so plain well-tuned that they bowled us over.

They all do what they set out to do, and they do it well. Common to all of them is that they are worth showcasing and celebrating.

Now, as for the submissions that didn’t make the nominees list, we have no doubts that we’ll see quite a few of the teams or games in the regular Nordic Game Awards in the years to come. Time may yet prove that we missed some real sensations – but we’ll gladly be proven wrong.

As the dust is settling, it’s obvious to us that Nordic indie games are alive and well, and that there exists a healthy diversity in geography, scope, budgets, target demographics, development methods and company structures. Not to mention stuff like game design sensibility, genre (or not), aesthetic goals and artistic intent.

Again, thanks for all the submissions!

The 2014 Nordic Game Indie Sensation Award Nominees:

Among The Sleepby Krillbite (Norway)

Chronologyby osao games (Denmark)

else { Heart.break() }, by Erik Svedäng, Niklas Åkerblad, Tobias Sjögren, Oscar Rydelius (Sweden)

Future Unfolding, by Spaces Of Play (Sweden)

Goat Simulator, by Coffee Stain Studios (Sweden)

ORBITby 4Bit Games (Norway)

Savant – Ascentby D-Pad Studio (Norway)

Shiftlings,  by Rock Pocket Games (Norway)

The eight selected games will be showcased Wednesday May 21st from 18.00 at Slagthuset, Malmö. One of the games will be selected by public voting during the night to receive the “Indie Sensation Award” at the Nordic Game Awards May 22nd. The evening is free and open to the public and will features inspirational and experimental speakers. We will release more information about the program for the evening in the following weeks, stay tuned.

Here’s the list again, with some screenshots, links and descriptions by some of the judges:

Among The Sleepby Krillbite (Norway)

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Among The Sleep is dark and surreal first-person survival horror in which you play a two year old child. In this fairly disturbing atmospheric game, you get fully immersed inside a child’s limitless and scary imagination. To make the experience even more real and and intense, Killbrite will showcase the game with the Oculus Rift.

Chronologyby Osao Games (Denmark)

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Puzzle platformers are still alive and well, which Osao Games has shown us with their game Chronology. Similar to The Silent Age, one of the finalists from last year, your character possesses a device which he can use to travel through time. The main difference is that in Chronology, it is used as an action mechanic as well as a narrative one. Add an armored snail sidekick, gorgeous transitions and … a fez, and you’ll want to see this through to the end.

else { Heart.break() }, by Erik Svedäng, Niklas Åkerblad, Tobias Sjögren, Oscar Rydelius (Sweden)

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This ambitious coming-of-age adventure is still in development. In its present state, we already see the groundwork for a gorgeous, highly interactive world complete with characters to speak to and point, click, inventory puzzling. What’s more unusual, though, is the way objects in the world have part of their actual scripts exposed to the player. In-game hacking, (finally!) is not handled with some irrelevant minigame.

Future Unfoldingby Spaces Of Play (Sweden)

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One of the things that games do so well, is create spaces that we can play in. Spaces Of Play’s Future Unfolding is exactly this: it takes you to a magical world of enchanted fauna, leaving you nothing but your wits to figure out what it is you should do here. You’ll explore a forest full of elegant creatures, that could be hostile, and when you do get attacked, the mossy ground just swallows you whole.

Goat Simulatorby Coffee Stain Studios (Sweden)

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A terrible idea, executed to perfection. It’s already been well covered in the press, but we did not want to pass on the opportunity of giving Coffe Stain Studios some recognition. We look forward to the puzzled faces and hysterical outbursts of laughter when you play this game in the NGIN expo.

ORBITby 4Bit Games (Norway)

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ORBIT by 4Bit Games has enough particle physics for 10 other games, but the way they use them to indicate trajectories and impact fully redeems it. Orbit is a careening local multiplayer game that pushes your maneouvering and aiming skills. Learn to take the orbiting trajectories into account when you shoot and use them to launch sneaky attacks in this fast moving and sometimes infuriatingly tricky game. The developers call this the ultimate couch experience, but it wouldn’t do too badly at a party like the Nordic Game Indie Night. It’s a game that has a definite depth and can be fun with a bit of drink in you, but also interestingly open to much skilled play, and seems bound to inspire some friendly competitiveness among players!

Savant – Ascentby D-Pad Studio (Norway)

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Possibly one of the most intense games that were submitted, Savant – Ascent meshes bullethell, dubstep and a style that’s reminiscent of V for Vendetta. The tight collaboration between indie studio D-Pad studio and the dubstep producer Savant is something we hope to see happen more in the future.

Shiftlings,  by Rock Pocket Games (Norway)

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There’s nothing like a coop platformer like Shiftlings by Rock Pocket Games to create meaningful relationships between players. They might be built on frustration, but the game is silly enough to make sure nobody takes anything it does too seriously. We hope you’ll grab a random stranger at the expo, and embark on this platform physics puzzle adventure together.