Bafta Games Awards 2022: Sci-fi survival game Returnal is big winner

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Image source, Housemarque
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Returnal's astronaut Selene must fight for survival on an ever-changing planet

Sci-fi horror game Returnal was the big winner at this year's Bafta Games Awards, scooping four prizes.

They included the top honour - best game - for the Playstation 5 shooter.

"It feels wonderful of course and we're so proud for the team that made it," Housemarque studio head Ilari Kuittinen told BBC News.

Jane Perry won best leading performer for playing Returnal's Selene, an astronaut who gets stuck in a time loop after crash landing on an alien planet.

In her acceptance speech at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the actress thanked Bafta for "recognising the artistry and the incredible talent in the games industry".

She also thanked the game's makers for "bringing to life - and several deaths - the person who became Selene".

Perry continued: "Performers dream of having a role like that to sink our teeth into. She is a middle-aged woman, she's a single mom and she is courageous and strong. And despite her considerable loss and trauma, she never gives up.

"She hopes for a better future and I think given the very serious state of the world right now that we can all take inspiration from Selene."

Image source, Hannah Taylor/Shutterstock for Bafta
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Tim Dawson and Wren Brier won two Baftas for Unpacking

Other winners at Thursday's ceremony included It Takes Two, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Unpacking, which won two Baftas each.

Unpacking, a puzzle game in which a woman's life unfolds as the player unboxes her possessions over a series of house moves, was conceived when Wren Brier and partner and co-creator Tim Dawson moved in together.

"It's incredible to have our little weird game recognised," Brier said when accepting the narrative award.

"We're not telling a complicated story in Unpacking but the way we tell it is different, and it's nice to see that that's appreciated and resonates with people."

The Brisbane-based couple were more shocked when it was named winner of the EE game of the year, the only category voted for by the public.

"Wow. We really, really didn't expect this one. Like, there was no chance," Brier said.

This is the 18th year that Bafta has honoured the best of the gaming world.

Image source, Hannah Taylor/Shutterstock for Bafta
Image caption,
It Takes Two creators Josef Fares (left) and Oskar Wolontis also won two Baftas

Gaming boomed in popularity during the pandemic. Last week, it was revealed that Brits spent a record £7.16bn on games, hardware and accessories in 2021 - up 32% compared with 2019.

Thursday was the first time the industry had got together in person for the Bafta Games Awards since 2019. The past two ceremonies have been staged virtually because of Covid.

And many of this year's winners had worked on their creations during lockdown.

The award for best British game went to racing title Forza Horizon 5, set in Mexico but made in Leamington Spa by Playground Games.

Studio head Trevor Williams said: "I'm really honoured and proud. It wasn't the easiest game to finish, I'll be honest.

"We shipped it in the middle of the pandemic and it was just truly inspiring working with a team that not only tried to ship the game but at every turn tried to ship the best game that they could. You truly are masters of your craft."

Accepting It Takes Two's trophy for best original property, Hazelight Studios' Swedish founder Josef Fares said: "This is a surprise. We're super happy and proud."

When he returned to the stage to pick up the multiplayer prize, Fares joked: "This one was expected, actually."

Bafta Games Awards 2022 winners:

  • Best game - Returnal
  • Best British game - Forza Horizon 5
  • Performer in a leading role - Jane Perry as Selene Vassos in Returnal
  • Performer in a supporting role - Kimberly Brooks as Hollis Forsythe in Psychonauts 2
  • EE game of the year - Unpacking
  • Narrative - Unpacking
  • Evolving game - No Man's Sky
  • Original property - It Takes Two
  • Multiplayer - It Takes Two
  • Debut game - Toem
  • Game beyond entertainment - Before Your Eyes
  • Family - Chicory: A Colorful Tale
  • Animation - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Game design - Inscryption
  • Artistic achievement - The Artful Escape
  • Technical achievement - Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Audio achievement - Returnal
  • Music - Returnal

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