SXSW Gaming Awards Final Nominees: Ember Lab’s ‘Kena: Bridge Of Spirits’ Leads 2022 List

EXCLUSIVE: The final nominations for the 2022 SXSW Gaming Awards are in. Indie game developer Ember Lab boasts a strong showing with its debut title Kena: Bridge of Spirits leading the final nominees list.

Now in its ninth year, the annual SXSW Gaming Awards seeks to celebrate the wide reach of gaming across art, design, music, gameplay and more across a total of 12 categories. The 2022 virtual SXSW Gaming Awards are produced by Georgia-based Peach Maria Productions and executive produced by Laurie Lockliear. The awards ceremony will be offered digitally as part of SXSW Online on March 12, 2022 at 7 p.m. CT, during the festival’s run from March 11-20.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits nabbed a total of four nominations for the annual ceremony. The 2021 action adventure game, which follows its titular young woman’s journey to help spirts transition to the after life and her quest to return her land to peace, is up for Indie Game of the Year, Excellence in Animation, Art, & Visual Achievement; Excellence in Narrative and Excellence in Original Score.

Following Kena with three noms apiece are Deathloop, Inscryption, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, Forza Horizon 5 and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Additional nominees are Death’s Door, Psychonauts 2, Resident Evil Village and Halo Infinite. In 2021 Supergiant Games’ Greek mythology action game Hades won Video Game of the Year.

“In a year where the convergence of the gaming and entertainment industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, SXSW is proud to showcase the most creative and innovative titles,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer for SXSW. “For a second year, SXSW is excited to bring the awards digitally to a global audience with our new partners Peach Maria Productions.”

Added Lockliear: “Having attended and participated in SXSW programming for many years, we are excited and honored to produce this year’s SXSW Gaming Awards show, which emphasizes the ever-increasing convergence between gaming and the rest of the entertainment industry. Our goal is to make this year’s Awards fun, accessible and memorable for casual fans, hard-core gamers, industry insiders, game makers, producers and more.”

Members of the SXSW community can cast their vote through 11:59 p.m. CT Tuesday, Feb. 8. Winners will be determined through a weighted total of public voting, advisory board and SXSW staff input.

See the full list of final nominees below.

SXSW Game of the Year

  • Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker SQUARE ENIX® SQUARE ENIX®
  • It Takes Two Hazelight Electronic Arts
  • Psychonauts 2 Double Fine Productions Xbox Game Studios
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Insomniac Games Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Resident Evil Village Capcom Capcom

Indie Game of the Year

  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale Greg Lobanov Finji
  • Death’s Door Acid Nerve Devolver Digital
  • Inscryption Daniel Mullins Games Devolver Digital
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits Ember Lab Ember Lab
  • Loop Hero Four Quarters Devolver Digital
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page Sketchbook Games Modus Games
  • The Medium Bloober Team Bloober Team
  • The Wild At Heart Moonlight Kids Humble Games
  • Unpacking Witch Beam Humble Games
  • Valheim Iron Gate Studio Coffee Stain Publishing

Tabletop Game of the Year

  • Cascadia Randy Flyn, Beth Sobel, Flatout Games
    Dylan Mangini, Molly Johnson,
    Robert Melvin, Kevin Russ, and
    Shawn Stankewich
  • Dune: Imperium Dire Wolf Digital Dire Wolf Digital
  • Oath: Chronicles of
    Empire & Exile Cole Wehrle Leder Games
  • Roll Camera! The Filmmaking Malachi Ray Rempen Keen Bean Studio
    Board Game
  • That Time You Killed Me Peter C. Hayward, Jeff Fraser, Pandasaurus Games and Alex Cutler

VR Game of the Year

  • After The Fall Vertigo Games Vertigo Games
  • Demeo Resolution Games Resolution Games
  • Lone Echo II Ready at Dawn Oculus Studios
  • Resident Evil 4 VR Armature Studio Oculus Studios
  • Song in the Smoke 17-BIT 17-BIT

Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award:  Awarded to the game that best challenges the “norm” of everyday gaming and offers a culturally innovative view of a game world, character, or gameplay.

  • Before Your Eyes GoodbyeWorld Games Skybound Games 
  • Chicory: A Colorful Tale Greg Lobanov Finji
  • Life is Strange: True Colors Deck Nine Games Square Enix
  • Lost Words: Beyond the Page Sketchbook Games Modus Games
  • Unpacking Witch Beam Humble Games

Excellence in Animation, Art, & Visual Achievement

  • Deathloop Arkane Lyon Bethesda Softworks
  • Exo One Exbleative Future Friends Games
  • Forza Horizon 5 Playground Games Xbox Game Studios
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits Ember Lab Ember Lab
  • The Wild At Heart Moonlight Kids Humble Games

Excellence in Game Design

  • Deathloop Arkane Lyon Bethesda Softworks
  • Inscryption Daniel Mullins Games Devolver Digital
  • Loop Hero Four Quarters Bethesda Softworks
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Insomniac Games Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Returnal Housemarque Sony Interactive Entertainment

Excellence in Original Score

  • The Artful Escape Beethoven & Dinosaur Annapurna Interactive
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker SQUARE ENIX® SQUARE ENIX®
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits Ember Lab Ember Lab
  • The Medium Bloober Team Bloober Team
  • Wytchwood Alientrap Games Whitethorn Games

Excellence in Multiplayer

  • Back 4 Blood Turtle Rock Studios Warner Bros. Games
  • Halo Infinite 343 Industries Xbox Game Studios
  • It Takes Two Hazelight Electronic Arts
  • Riders Republic Ubisoft Annecy Ubisoft
  • Valheim Iron Gate Studio Coffee Stain Publishing

Excellence in Narrative

  • Deathloop Arkane Lyon Bethesda Softworks
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker SQUARE ENIX® SQUARE ENIX®
  • Marvel’s Guardians of the
    Galaxy Eidos-Montréal Square Enix
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits Ember Lab Ember Lab
  • Lost in Random Zoink Games Electronic Arts

Excellence in Audio Design

  • Forza Horizon 5 Playground Games Xbox Game Studios
  • Hell Let Loose Black Matter Team17
  • Inscryption Daniel Mullins Games Devolver Digital
  • Resident Evil Village Capcom Capcom
  • Twelve Minutes Luis Antonio Annapurna Interactive

Excellence in Technical Achievement

  • Before Your Eyes GoodbyeWorld Games Skybound Games 
  • Hell Let Loose Black Matter Team17
  • Forza Horizon 5 Playground Games Xbox Game Studios
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart Insomniac Games Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Returnal Housemarque Sony Interactive Entertainment
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