Kena: Bridge of Spirits and Twelve Minutes cite Zelda and The Shining as gameplay influences


We learn what the driving force is behind some of this year’s upcoming games as developers speak out about their game inspirations.

On the run-up to the much-anticipated Tribeca Film Festival from June 9 to June 20, 2021, we learned that eight titles would be making their first-ever appearance for the festival’s 20th anniversary.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits – State of Play Trailer

Kena: Bridge of Spirits – State of Play Trailer

Along with a special outdoor live concert at NYC’s The Battery that includes The Songs of Red Dead Redemption 2 being played by the original soundtrack producer for the game Daniel Lanois, fans will also get to experience exclusive gameplay footage online at The Tribeca Games Spotlight that will comprise of this year’s Official Selections.

As we near closer to the festival, we take a look at the eight announced games and how iconic movies and games like E.T, Zelda, The Shining, Alice in Wonderland, Monkey Island and many more have helped inspire these today to what we will see and play this year.

Harold Halibut

Harold Halibut is a beautifully handmade narrative game about friendship and life on a city-sized spaceship submerged in an alien ocean. Ole Tillmann, Art Director at Slow Brows, discusses where the developers got the inspiration from.

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.”

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

The game that has captured everyone’s hearts that includes those adorable rot creatures, is about a young woman called Kena who travels to an abandoned village in search of the sacred mountain shrine.

Josh Grier, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Ember Lab said this when it came to how Kena: Bridge of Spirits was created.

“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.”

Lost in Random

You don’t have to look too far to see where Lost in Random got some of their inspiration from. The stunning and quirky title certainly gives off Tim Burton vibes but you may be surprised that the developers also got their motivation from an Australian artist, writer and filmmaker.

Klaus Lyngeled, CEO and Creative Director at Zoink has this to say on Lost in Random.

“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.”


A game about set in the decaying suburbs of South Louisiana, Norco is a sci-fi Southern Gothic point and click adventure that explores the industrial swamplands.

Developers Geography of Robots had this to say about Norco:

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 takes players on a hoverbike adventure across deserts and landscapes littered with fallen spaceships whilst unearthing mysteries.

Gregorios Kythereotis who is the Creative Director at Shedworks spoke briefly about how Studio Ghibli played a part in creating the game.

“French and Belgian artists using the clair ligne style from the 80’s/90’s and movies created by Studio Ghibli like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.”


A classic survival horror experience with a unique aesthetic, Signalis will allow players to investigate a dark secret, solve puzzles, fight off nightmarish creatures and navigate dystopian, surreal retrotech worlds as Elster, a technician Replika searching for her lost dreams.

Developer rose engine cited Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch as inspirational undercurrents for their unique title.

“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

If you live for all things the 90s inspired, you just might dig The Big Con. As a run-away teen artist, players will learn how to live on the mean streets as a pick-pocket and a master of disguises.

“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 and Matchstick Men” said Dave Proctor, Game Director at Mighty Yell.

Twelve Minutes

This is most certainly a game many gamers have been looking forward to getting their hands on. An interactive narrative that has already received praise. Twelve Minutes tells the tale of a man stuck in a time-loop where he relives the same terror again and again.

Luis Antonio, Creative Director of the game states that “Twelve Minutes pulls inspirations from films including Memento, Rear Window and The Shining.”

The 20th Tribeca Film Festival is currently scheduled to take place from June 9 to June 20, 2021. For more information, you can check out the Tribeca Film website right here.

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Rachael Fiddis

Rachael, who is Deputy Editor, has been gaming for many years. Some of her favourite video games include The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us but also loves a good indie title. Gaming Culture is where her heart lies and spends many hours sieving through gaming fan art and cosplay displays. Other than gaming, Rachael is a book nerd and music lover.

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