While the casual and mainstream audience have opened up new doors for developers, the hardcore gaming enthusiasts remain among the most lucrative consumers. The Game Connection Development Awards has a category dedicated to devs targeting this market.
Popular business and networking event Game Connection America will once again run alongside GDC in San Francisco next week, and will be highlighting some of the most promising upcoming titles with its own awards ceremony.
Previously known as Selected Projects, the Game Connection Development Awards are designed to reward some of the most innovative titles from studios big and small, across various platforms and in various states of development.
All this week, Develop will be rounding up the finalists in all ten categories. You can find out more about the awards at www.game-connection.com.
Here are the finalists for Best Hardcore game:
Studio: Active Gaming Media
Platforms: PC, PSN
With its emphasis on quick reflexes, dexterity and skill, the 2D shooter genre is one of the most synonymous with hardcore gaming. Astebreed satisfies the needs of this genre's fans with its quick pace and relentless enemies.
Epic of Kings
Studio: Dead Mage
Country: United States
Platforms: Tablets and smartphones
Stage: Playable Demo
Aiming at bringing console-quality gaming to smart devices, Epic of Kings' emphasis on battles with intimidating monsters and bosses makes Dead Mage's adventure much more appealing to traditional gamers than casual ones.
Studio: Blindflug Studios
Platforms: Tablets, smartphones and PC
First Strike's focus on intense strategy and the pressure of its time limit to defeat other superpowers as quickly as possible makes this a game not for the faint of heart. Only those accustomed to in-depth strategy titles will be able to triumph in a global war and unlock the game's true ending.
Country: United Kingdom
Platforms: PC, Xbox One and PS4
Stage: Playable Demo
While it appears colourful and welcoming, Hue's tricky puzzles require players to constantly shift the background colour to reveal hidden objects and pathways. Its clever use of this mechanic should ensure it stands toe-to-toe with some of the most complex puzzle games available.
Studio: Guru Games
Platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
This first-person horror game is set in Ancient Greece. Players explore ancient temples and catacombs filled with terrifying monsters, where stealth is the often the best way to avoid death. The complete absence of a HUD also heightens the terror.