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2015 Independent Games Festival Awards finalists include both the familiar and the new

The 2015 Independent Games Festival released its list of finalists, all of which will be playable on the convention floor of of the 2015 Game Developer’s Conference in March when the winners are announced.

Nearly 650 nominees were whittled down by expert committees of industry professionals into the list of almost 40 finalists and a selection of honorable mentions in each category. The nominees include a number of games that have already caught our attention here at Digital Trends, and plenty of other interesting sounding pieces we haven’t been able to check out yet.

The Talos Principle, from Serious Sam developer Croteam, is up for the Suemas McNally grand prize, as well as the award for Excellence in Design. This first-person puzzler combines head-scratching environmental puzzles with a philosophical and introspective narrative, promising to keep your brain firing on all cylinders late into the night. That is, unless you stole the game, in which case it promises to lock you in an elevator.

Invisible Inc. is a turn-based stealth/strategy game from Klei Entertainment (Don’t Starve, Mark of the Ninja), also in contention for both the grand prize and Excellence in Design. Think XCOM, but with spies instead of marines. Steadily rising alert levels encourage you to get in and get out as quickly as possible in the game’s espionage and infiltration missions, but the promise of greater rewards to be found if you stick around and explore creates a delicious risk/reward tension.

80 Days, an innovative mobile game from the small, British Inkle Studios, is also up for both the grand prize and Excellence in Design. This twist on Jules Verne’s classic novel combines resource management with choose-your-own-adventure storytelling into a race around the world that plays out very differently each time, depending on your choices. The action plays out in real time, with the travails of other players around the world showing up on your map to drive you forward in this steampunk race.

Elegy for a Dead World, from Dejobaan Games and Pop Cannibal, is up for the Nuovo Award that honors games that stretch our notion of what games can be. A vistor from Earth on distant, alien worlds, you are tasked with exploring their ruins and speculating about the secrets of the civilizations that once flourished there. The fascinating twist is that throughout your exploration you are prompted to write about your journey and share your ideas about what you find. These are then shared with the world, making the game a platform for communal storytelling and player creativity.

The full list of nominees and honorable mentions is available on the IGF website. Winners will be announced on March 4 in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference 2015, preceding the Game Developers Choice awards.