“We are thrilled to announce that the Infestari team has won the Best Artistic Achievement award at Level Up 2023,” said Video Game Design & Development Program Director Jean-Paul Amore, noting that this year marked Toronto Film School’s first year participating in the event, which took place April 19 at the Westin Harbour Castle.
“With over 100 games submitted from post-secondary schools across Ontario, the competition was tough, and we are incredibly proud of our team for rising to the challenge. Infestari stood out from the crowd with its impressive artistry and unique gameplay.”
Infestari Art Director Vanessa Taylor and Programmer Alex Adams were on hand at the Level Up event to collect their award for Best Artistic Achievement in person in front of the dozens of other college and university teams from across Ontario in attendance. A panel of game industry professionals selected the ultimate winners from amongst the 100+ showcased games in the categories of Artistic Achievement, Technical Innovation, and Best Overall Game.
For Taylor and Adams, Infestari’s big win marked the culmination of the many hours of hard work and sleepless nights that their entire team put into getting the game ready for its big debut in front of the 2,000+ game enthusiasts and industry leaders who flock to the Level Up Showcase each year.
“When we were called for first place it was a huge, ‘Heck yeah!’ It meant a lot that our game won,” said Taylor.
“There were plenty of us in the capstone that stayed up many nights to get it to that point, many people who took on more when they could. We were a very art-driven team, so for us to get the art award was amazing. It was nice to know the team’s hard work meant something and it meant a lot that I was able to help direct it.”
Described as an isometric tactical stealth shooter game set in a dark dystopian future, Infestari follows ex-military commander Juno, as she returns to Earth years after an alien infestation has overtaken the planet, mutating its insects and forcing humanity’s retreat to the safety of space. The game features a “vacant and isolated” atmosphere, “intense” stealth and combat, and a “chilling” environment.
Taylor said she and the Infestari team threw around many different ideas when it came to narrowing down the game’s art style – drawing inspiration from such games as Diablo, Skyhill and Starcraft, and movies including Castlevania and The Edge of Tomorrow.
“We all definitely wanted a moody, dark, spooky atmosphere,” she said. “The style we chose was a semi-realistic style as it’s much easier to do in a short amount of time than a fully realistic game. I had a lot of fun trying to think of the environments and creatures.”
Founded and run by digital media faculty from 17 colleges and universities across Ontario, the annual Level Up Showcase invites students from programs in digital media, game design and development, and animation to come together to show off their work and talent to the world.
For Taylor, the highlight of the event was getting to network with other students and see their games.
“It was very enjoyable talking to them and learning about what went into their games,” she said. “I also got to talk to a few people in the industry and I got some solid advice.”
Learn more about Toronto Film School’s participation in the 2023 Level Up Showcase here: