Less is more in the case of the immersive Stone Story RPG, an imaginative game composed of punctuation marks and coding symbols and winner of the top prize at Tokyo Game Show's 2019 Sense of Wonder Night.
Stone Story RPG, which launched for Mac, PC and Linux computers in August, clinched the US$3,000 (RM12,557) Grand Audience Award at Sense of Wonder Night 2019.
With some of the world's biggest video game publishers exhibiting at the annual Tokyo Game Show, its Sense of Wonder Night casts a spotlight on some of the most innovative and enjoyable titles from small, independent developers.
In place of the photorealism driving TGS big draws like Death Stranding or Final Fantasy VII Remake, for example, Stone Story RPG leans no less elegantly upon curved and straight line punctuation – parentheses, brackets and underscores; bars, slashes, stops and so on.
As well as reversing graphical expectations, it also casts players in an atypical role.
Instead of controlling the main character's movements and actions – a task ably handled by an AI protagonist – players combine items to create new and more effective weapons, equipment, and potions in order to cleave through the game's unfolding challenges.
Over from California, game developer Gabriel Santos received a US$3,000 cheque for winning the event's Grand Audience Award, scooping the ceremony's Best Art award to boot.
Santos had received the Edamame trophy from giant Japanese publisher Square Enix earlier in the expo.
SOWN 2019 named seven other finalists for its showcase ceremony, with four of them receiving category prizes.
Unheard, from Shanghai, China team Next Studios, won Best Experimental Game for its crime-solving experience in which the most vital information is conveyed through sound. It's available on Steam for Mac and PC.
Also majoring on sensory innovation was Uplight, a custom controller with a cuboid display unit mounted on top; the project, made by the iMedia Lab at Tokyo's University of Electro-Communications, won Best Technological Game.
A deck-building card game with fast-moving combat, One Step From Eden, won Best Game Design. Though not due for release until January 2020, Pennsylvania-based developer Thomas Moon Kang has a free demo available in both Steam and Game Jolt.
Finally, 冒険者ギルドへようこそ！ ["Welcome To The Adventurers Guild!"] rounds out 2019's SOWN prize-winners, taking the Best Presentation Award. The Android and iOS game lets players create and share quests for and with each other.
Three other titles were likewise elevated to the SOWN 2019 showcase stage: driving dare Bravoon, which uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor to tell if players' eyes are open or shut; QuestNotes, a massively multiplayer, tabletop role-playing game; interactive graphic novel and Polish collaboration Liberated, expected on PC through Steam this year.