The Tribeca Festival’s full-feature games contingent – Tribeca Games – spotlight event opened well with its showcase of its first Official Selection of eight intriguing indie games on Friday – giving gamers and viewers a proper look at the official selection announced last month. All are eligible for the inaugural Tribeca Games Award.
Celebrating “the convergence of games, entertainment and culture, highlighting the storytelling, art and innovation of games” the Official Selection comprised of a heady mix of narrative-driven adventure games that featured impressive art styles and techniques – from the top-down, time loop mystery (featuring the voices of Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy, and Willem Dafoe) of 12 Minutes; to a pixel art near future Southern Gothic tale in Norco; to a heavily Moebius-inspired desert explorer in Sable; to a stop-motion tale set aboard a stranded retro-futurist space ship in Harold Halibut; to a 90s cartoon-inspired teenage grifting in The Big Con.
The advisory board for Tribeca Games is a surprisingly impressive one – featuring a number of standout names in film and gaming spaces. Jon Favreau and Hideo Kojima join filmmaker Nia Dacosta; EA co-founder Bing Gordon; Game Awards and Summer Game Fest head honcho Geoff Keighley; creative director of Remedy Entertainment Sam Lake; and Halo Transmedia & Entertainment head Kiki Wolfkill to define and, according to the website, “champion Tribeca’s power in shaping the future of games as a powerful form of storytelling.”
There was a definite sense of the international in the selection with teams in Canada, Sweden, Germany and the UK joining those from the US. There were admittedly no games from Asia, Africa or South America in the Official Selection, but one hopes that this would be remedied should Tribeca Games continue in future years.
Tribeca Festival has had games-related programming under the Tribeca Games tag for a number of years but this is the first in which games would be fully included in the festival selection, and be eligible for the newly introduced Tribeca Games Award.
Signalis (rose-engine, Germany)
A survival-horror mystery game. The synopsis,
Stranded on a desolate world, a lone Replika must explore the ruins of an abandoned reeducation facility in search of answers – and a way to escape. Solve puzzles, fight nightmarish creatures, and navigate through dystopian, surreal worlds as Elster, a technician Replika looking for a lost dream.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits (Ember Lab, USA)
First debuted via a PlayStation presentation in June 2020, this game still looks fantastic. The Tribeca presentation was also interesting as the developers talk about their background in Hollywood special effects and animation before engaging on this project.
NORCO (Geography of Robots, USA)
A point-and-click southern gothic mystery set in the near-future “sinking suburbs and industrial swamps of Louisiana’s petrochemical hinterlands”.
Harold Halibut (Slow Bros., Germany)
This game has been made using a mix of stop-motion and digital animation to give it a unique look and feel. Set aboard a retro-futurist vessel long-stranded on an inhospitable planet, it looks like a very unconventional piece.
Sable (Shedworks, UK)
If the first thought that goes through your mind when looking at this game is “This looks like Moebius”, you aren’t wrong. The developers at Shedworks mention the respected French artist’s name as an influence on their game. It looks gorgeous.
Lost in Random (Zoink!, Sweden)
Zoink! is unlike many of their fellows on this list as Lost in Random is not their first game. The developer has multiple games under their belt including 2018’s Fe, Flipping Death, and 2019’s VR-game Ghost Giant. Lost in Random has a style reminiscent of stop-motion animation and – like Kena – will definitely have mainstream appeal.
12 Minutes (Luis Antonio, USA)
A time-loop mystery with an all-star voice cast. James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe lend their voices to this top-down view, point-and-click drama.
The Big Con (Mighty Yell, Canada)
Heavily inspired by 90s cartoons, the game’s concept artist Saffron Aurora freely cites shows like Hey Arnold!, Doug and The Simpsons as an influence on this 90s set cross-country tale of a teenage grifter trying to save her mom’s video rental store.
If you missed out on the full stream, you can check it out here: