Watch Kena, 12 Minutes, Harold Halibut, And Other Tribeca Games Gameplay

Tribeca Games just made its contribution to the E3 season – eight games were spotlighted as the first-ever Tribeca Games Official Selections. These games span genres, platforms, and ideas to deliver unique experiences. But what truly elevates them is a film-like quality to their visual style and storytelling. That’s not to say that these are the usual “games trying to be movies,” but rather that the creators are being very specific in choosing oft-unseen art styles and presentation techniques. From Harold Halibut‘s stop-motion look to 12 Minutes’ top-down time loop, see what makes these games worth Tribeca Games’ inaugural badge of honor.

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits

As one of 2021’s most anticipated games, Kena has already been on the radar of potential fans. Many were quick to point to The Legend of Zelda and Ghibli/Pixar as inspirations. According to Josh Grier, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Ember Lab, those guesses are pretty on point.

“We were inspired by many of the adventure games that have come before us, most notably, Zelda. Additionally, our time living in Japan exposed us to the works of Miyazaki and other cultural influences that have shaped the themes of many of our independent projects,” he told TheGamer.

Harold Halibut

Harold Halibut is one of those games that looks like a playable movie, but not in the usual way. To go along with its bizarre setting of an alternate Cold War future, developer Slow Brows aimed for iconic stop-motion rather than a photo-realistic style. Art Director Ole Tillmann said:

“Harold Halibut had so many influences, from stop-motion in general, ranging from the classical Czech animation films, Aardman Animations’ Wallace & Gromit, Wes Anderson, 90’s sci-fi-fantasy films like E.T. or The Abyss, Pixar, Wong Kar-wai, Japanese cinema and animation, including Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Otomo, Mamoru Oshii etc.”

Lost In Random

As a Dungeons & Dragons fan, Lost in Random’s emphasis on dice and the element of chance intrigued me. But rather than D&D, Creative Director Klaus Lyngeled says that “The macabre, beautiful, and highly visual Kingdom of Random was inspired by the works of those such as Shaun Tan, Tim Burton, and Alice in Wonderland.”


Introduced by an oddly-framed Norman Reedus, Norco has its roots in both the American South and old-school text adventure games. You can see how its environments ooze mood with the way they blend color and pixels.

Developer Geography of Robots said that “NORCO draws from a wide range of sources: Southern Gothic authors such as William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, or Cormac McCarthy, and many urban theorists and environmental justice scholars including Robert Bullard, Eyal Weizman, and Mike Davis. Additional influences include New Orleans-based visual artists Max Seckel, Hannah Chalew, and Pippin Frisbie-Calder, the early visual text adventures of Hideo Kojima, many sound artists and musicians including Laurie Spiegel, Coil, Ghost Box Records, Bohren and Der Club of Gore, and Plone. And we can’t forget the beautiful indie games by developers like Sonoshee, Yames, or Jessica Harvey.”


Sable looks like a living cartoon, and the image of a lone rider speeding through a vast desert conjures many iconic movies. In particular, Creative Director Gregorios Kythereotis said that “French and Belgian artists using the clair ligne style from the 80s/90s and movies created by Studio Ghibli like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” were inspirations.


Signalis has the look of sci-fi, but brings a quiet, existential survival horror atmosphere. To that end, it was several famous movie directors that gave the team their inspiration.

Developer rose-engine said” “Nothing can be created in a vacuum free of inspiration – naturally, many artists and their bodies of work have left strong impressions on us and subtly influenced the way we approach our own work. For Signalis, the works of Tsutomu Nihei, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Mamoru Oshii have been a strong influence.”

The Big Con

“In making The Big Con, we were heavily inspired by the ’90s including Nickelodeon, Ghost World, Monkey Island, Toejam & Earl, and movies like The Wizard, Blank Cheque, Matchstick Men,” said game director Dave Proctor. You can tell, as the game looks like a Nick advertisement given new life. Too bad they don’t make carpets like that anymore.

12 Minutes

We can always count on Annapurna Interactive to put out bangers, and Luis Antonio’s 12 Minutes looks to be no exception. Antonio revealed in an interview that the game does not actually take 12 minutes to beat, but that the main characters (played by James McAvoy and Daisy Ridley) are stuck in a time loop. The situation gets increasingly complex as the player must figure out how to do and re-do events to actually survive 12 minutes and return to the normal timeline.

With that being the case, Antonio said that “Twelve Minutes pulls inspirations from films including Memento, Rear Window and The Shining.”

Those who wish to learn more about the Tribeca Games selections can head over to the official site, where some demo opportunities are available.

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