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Fans Surprised by SXSW Game Award Winners!

The SXSW Games Awards took place over the weekend and featured a lot of amazing titles that in some cases surprised audience members.

The eighth annual South by South West (SXSW) Gaming Awards just celebrated the past year of gaming and recognized some of the industry’s most influential titles, groups and individuals.

It’s an event celebrated by fans as in previous years the event was cancelled, and while there were a few crowd favorites, some winners took the audience by surprise. Let’s end it all now!

Image: SXSW 2022 / SXSW

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. Other nominees included Resident Evil Village, It takes twoand Psychonauts 2, but it’s clear why Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker won.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is the latest extension of Final Fantasy XIVan MMO RPG released in late 2010. Upon its initial release, there was huge player pushback and revisions with several issues including performance and gameplay.

Chief Endwalker from Final Fantasy XIV
Image: Endwalker from Final Fantasy XIV/Square Enix

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

Not only Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker walk away with SXSW’s Video Game of the Year as well as Excellence in Original Music and Excellence in Storytelling for their incredible work on music and storytelling.

Final Fantasy XIV Raid
Image: Final Fantasy XIV/Square Enix Raid Party

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 protagonist Kena as she explores a magical world aided by a growing team of adorable spirits called Rot.

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

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

This award is given to the game that exemplifies the overall excellence and ingenuity of any tabletop game in any genre. While this may not be the first Dune board game to be released in the past couple of years, it’s certainly one of the most impressive.

If you’re a table fan and have a free week with friends, this is something you need to check out.

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 on any VR platform, Resident Evil 4 definitely ticks the right boxes when it comes to VR gaming and is one of the best PS4 games of all time!

VR gaming may have come a long way in the past couple of years, with some competitive models and titles joining the scene, also inadvertently increasing insurance claims. So if you have an Oculus Quest 2 and have set up a VR safe space, jump on it.

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

The objective of this game is strange but equally satisfying, thus winning this award. The award is given to the game that best challenges the “norm” of everyday play and offers a culturally innovative take on a game world, character, or gameplay.

You might ask what this goal is, simple; you need to unpack and organize a room. That’s it. If you are very picky about where you put things, then this game might allow you to develop those skills in full.

SXSW excellence in animation, art and visual production
Forza Horizon 5 – Playground Games / Xbox Game Studios

This award is given to the game with the most well-designed and stunning visuals, including animation effects and graphics. Forza titles have always been great games, and it’s one 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 couch, then this is a title for you.

SXSW excellence in game design
Registration —Daniel Mullins Games/Devolver Digital

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

Registration is a roguelike deck building game where players must use all their skills to escape from a mysterious cabin by defeating an unknown demonic force in a card game.

SXSW Excellence in Multiplayer
It takes two — Hazelight / Electronic Arts

If you’re looking for a title to play with a significant other or close friend, look 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 overarching story is one of love, divorce and family as two parents about to end their relationship are turned into clay-like dolls at the behest of their daughter. They must now explore their home from this new perspective and work together to try to become who they were.

SXSW Excellence in Audio Design
Resident Evil Village —Capcom

This award is given to the game with the most outstanding and impactful sound effects, and it is these sound effects that make Resident Evil Village creepy. Try playing alone at night. I defy you.

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

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 efficiently. I remember seeing the trailer for this title and being in absolute awe. I had to watch it several times to take in the whole trailer!

This is the 16th title in the Ratchet & Clank franchise, and expectations for such a long series are 110% met in Flaw apart.