The time has finally come. The new year is almost upon us, we’ve teased you with our nominations for the past five days, it’s finally time to tell you who won in this years Indie Haven Game of the Year Awards.

Enough stalling, time to get on with announcing who won in our prestigious new award ceremony.

Puzzle Game of the Year – Winner – The Swapper

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The Swapper won the Indie Haven staff over with its impressively immersive world, great soundtrack and visual identity and wonderfully balanced puzzles to come out on top in our Puzzle Game of the Year category. Starting with a simple and easy to understand puzzle mechanic, creating a number of clones that you can swap your consciousness between, the game gradually introduced additional layers to this core idea until the game became incredibly challenging, but all at a very natural pace. It never throws you unprepared into a puzzle, instead always making sure that the clues to progress have been laid out for you already, just begging to be remembered.

Nominees: Surgeon Simulator 2013, The Swapper, Guacamelee, Antichamber.

Puzzle Game of the Year – Honorable Mention – Antichamber

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Antichamber made it onto our Nominations list for Puzzle Game of the Year on the merits of its brilliant and mind bending spacial design. Antichamber is a brilliant exercise in forcing players to be attentive and pushing their spatial reasoning to its limits. Antichamber required a lot of lateral thinking that, if you’re not used to doing, can become an insurmountable obstacle to progress and eventually force players to become frustrated and avoid finishing the game. With that said, Antichamber still gets our Honorable Mention in this category and is well worth a shot, even if some of you will struggle to complete it.

Nominees: Surgeon Simulator 2013, The Swapper, Guacamelee, Antichamber.

Shooter of the Year – Winner – Assault Android Cactus

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Assault Android Cactus is possibly the most polished and complete feeling early access game many of us have ever played, so much so that several of our writers didn’t initially realise it wasn’t out of early access yet. Put simply, it’s the most finely tuned, visually stunning and hellishly challenging shooter we have played all year.

A top down twin stick bullet hell shooter can live or die on its controls and AAC controls so well it’s a constant delight for to play. Assault Android cactus is a blast to play, well balanced, hard as nails and full of fascinating character and enemy designs that all have their own unique combat styles, strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be put off by the fact it’s in Early Access still, it’s our favourite shooter of the year.

Nominees: Gun Monkeys, Resogun, Assault Android Cactus, Paranautical Activity.

Shooter of the Year – Honorable Mention – Gun Monkeys

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Gun Monkeys was the first game the Indie Haven staff played together online and  goodness we had a blast. You play as brightly coloured time travelling monkeys sent to the future with guns to collect energy cubes and send them back to the past: ’nuff said. The game is fast paced, visually stunning and handled well on a controller (unfortunately, the default keyboard controls left a little to be desired).

While it initially suffered issues of empty servers we still had a blast playing against each other when we were all online. The matchmaking woes were somewhat mitigated when the developer started giving free codes out in game, but unfortunately without a single player mode this game somewhat relied on having an online community that never quite picked up enough. Still, it was our favourite multiplayer shooter to play together this year and a game we will be coming back to together for quite some time.

Nominees: Gun Monkeys, Resogun, Assault Android Cactus, Paranautical Activity.

RPG of the Year – Winner – Ittle Dew

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Ittle Dew pays homage to Zelda in all the right ways. It takes all the wonderful item collection, puzzle solving dungeon exploration and combat cues that made traditional top down Zelda games great, and adds in a protagonist who, rather than being an empty shell for the player to fill, is well defined and consistently amusing.

The combat and world traversal are fluid and feel responsive. The world design is colourful and has a well defined identity all of its own. Ittle Dew has thrill of exploring the unknown and conquering everything in your path, like the Zelda of old. Ittle Dew is well worth a try if you’re a Zelda fan, it pays homage to a wonderful series without relying on it too heavily. It’s an amazing game in its own right, but learns just enough lessons from Zelda to feel comfortingly familiar to fans.

Nominees: Ittle Dew, Shadowrun Returns, Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain.

RPG of the Year – Honorable Mention – Rogue Legacy

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Rogue Legacy is an incredibly fun and challenging Rogue-Like RPG with a unique trick up its sleeve: when your character dies, their children live on and continue the quest in their place. With an ever shifting dungeon to explore, huge amounts of skills to level up, mountains of gold to mine and a multitude of children with different positive and negative traits to experiment with, Rogue Legacy has a huge amount of content to fight your way through and offers a huge challenge to overcome over the weeks and months.

Nominees: Ittle Dew, Shadowrun Returns, Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain.

Indie Developer of the Year – Winner – The Fullbright Company

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The Fullbright Company took a huge risk and made it pay off unbelievably well. Fleeing the triple-A development scene, they all decided to work together in a single house, working on a moody and atmospheric game set in a teenage girl’s family home in the 90’s. It was a game with no combat and very little in the way of traditional gameplay, but it told a story so moving it brought them to the attention of the whole gaming world. It was a risky debut for the group, but one that without a doubt paid off. Thank you for taking that risk to bring us something beautiful The Fullbright Company, for your courageous act you win out Indie Developer of the Year Award.

Nominees: The Fullbright Company, Dan Marshall, The Tall Trees, Saleem Dabbous and KO-OP Mode.

Indie Developer of the Year – Honorable Mention – The Tall Trees

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Castles in the Sky is notable for many of the same reasons Gone Home above is. The first game from a multi person studio, Castles in the Sky’s launch campaign was so perfectly orchestrated that everyone covering indie games stopped and took notice of them. A short little  game a little under 10 minutes long, it sees you play a young boy jumping up through clouds, enjoying beautiful music and gorgeous art while being treated to a very touching bedtime story. Usually something like this would have gone largely unnoticed by the masses, but for managing to demand the attention of the whole games press at once, The Tall Trees get our Honorable Mention. Well done on making a name for yourselves with your pre-launch plans, the games press are now watching you with eagle eyes.

Nominees: The Fullbright Company, Dan Marshall, The Tall Trees, Saleem Dabbous and KO-OP Mode.

Game of the Year – Winner – Gone Home

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Gone Home. A game made by a team of Bioshock 2 DLC veterans living together in a single house, making a non combat first person exploration game set in a large sprawling abandoned home in the 90′s. Who could have predicted just how special this game would have been to so many people. At just a few hours long the game saw us meet a cast of characters whose lives all intertwined in beautiful, touching and often heartbreaking ways. Gone Home may have been short on traditional gaming elements, but the world it created, the story it told and what it gained in the immersion granted by gameplay interaction made it the piece of media this year that had the largest lasting impression.

Gone Home inspired people to talk about their childhood growing up in the 90′s, to talk about teen love and their own experiences learning who they are. It got people to open up about very personal aspects of their own lives, it got people to feel connected. It was a shared experience that affected a huge number of people, spilled out of our little indie bubble.

Here’s some links to things people wrote after playing the game, just to give you an idea what it inspired in its players. Beware Spoilers.

Indie Haven’s Gone Home Review

Just Take Me Seriously – A Personal Slice of Gone Home 

Gone Home – A Game of Self Reflection

The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 9 – Gone Home Spoilercast (Special Guests Danielle Riendeau, Steve Gaynor and Leigh Alexander)

Polygon – Finding someone like me in Gone Home

I’m dying my hair because of a video game.

Gone Home touched so many of the Indie Haven writers in so many different ways, I don’t think any other game deserved our Game of the Year award quite as much as this one. Congratulations on a well deserved win.

Nominees: Gone Home, The Stanley Parable, Papers, Please.

Game of the Year – Honorable Mention – The Stanley Parable

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The Stanley Parable is a fascinating look at video games, gamers and the way we make choices in our lives. It is incredibly subtle and nuanced in the way it plays on player expectations. It’s a brilliant piece of criticism on the state of gaming and a wonderful experience we highly recommend to anyone interested in the weird and bizarre mind bending side of video games.

The only thing holding it back from the top spot this year was that while an amazing piece of gaming culture and critique, its influence remained squarely within the realm of gaming. Where Gone Home was able to impact on many of our lives on a personal level outside of our gaming lives, The Stanley Parable was strictly an experience that effected one specific facet of our lives.

Nominees: Gone Home, The Stanley Parable, Papers, Please.

And there you have it, our 2013 Game of the Year Winners and Honorable Mentions. I’m sure some of you out there will have opinions one way or the other on our choices so let us know in the comments if you agree, disagree, what you thought about our winners and so on.

Congratulations to every winner, every Honorable Mention, every nominee and every game we loved this year that didn’t quite make it this far. 2013 has been an insanely positive and competitive year in the indie scene and we’re honored to have been able to cover every game and developer we covered this year. Thank you so much for an amazing year everyone, we look forward to what you have to show us in 2014.