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You’ll want to wish-list all 7 of these games we saw at Tribeca Fest

A baby levitates a bunch of scientists in Goodnight Universe.
Skybound Games
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

Usually after an event as busy as Summer Game Fest, I’d crawl into my bed and sleep for a week straight before thinking about another video game. I didn’t have that luxury this year. As soon as I returned home to New York City, I was eager to head over to Tribeca Fest to see even more games. While the media festival is most known for films, it expanded into video games over the past few years that appear as official selections. Some of those games go on to become award-winning hits and critical darlings, like Immortality, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Venba, and more.

This year, the festival featured seven games, which were playable for attendees. This year’s crop included several anticipated indies that have been on our radar for years. Though I may have been exhausted from a full week of demoing games at Summer Game Fest, I was excited to see what the festival had on top this year. It did not disappoint. The seven games on display all represent a bright future for the independent game scene. Trust me: You’ll want to add all of these to your Steam wish list.

Goodnight Universe

A baby levitates a bottle in Goodnight Universe.
Skybound Games

Goodnight Universe won this year’s Tribeca Games Award, and I could immediately see why as soon as I played it. The unique project comes from Nice Dream, the studio behind the fantastic and innovative Before Your Eyes. That game used eye-tracking technology that let players control its story just by blinking. Its follow-up continues that trend but goes even further. Goodnight Universe stars an infant named Isaac who realizes he possesses psychic powers. During my demo, I’d blink to change a TV’s channels, hold my eyes shut to levitate objects, and swipe my mouse to toss my far-off toys into a cabinet. The web camera could even pick up my smiles and frowns, allowing me to answer some questions with my face. It’s a wildly creative project that is already earning praise.

Skate Story

The player skates toward the moon in Skate Story.
Devolver Digital

There are a lot of skateboarding games out there (including the upcoming Skate revival), but I promise that you’ve never played any quite like Skate Story. The upcoming Devolver Digital release is deeply weird, sinister, and full of head-bopping tunes. On its surface, it’s a skateboarding game where players can ride and perform tricks. It’s also a game about wanting to eat the moon, all while stone philosophers try to thwart your forbidden skating. The demo I played was unnerving, as my polygonal hero skated through a wasteland of crystal spikes and deep blacks. I have no idea where its surreal story is going, but I’m very much along for the ride already.

Neva

A girl approaches a wolf in Neva.
Devolver Digital

In 2018, developer Nomada Studio made a name for itself with Gris. The atmospheric platformer was most notable for its watercolor art style that immediately turned heads as soon as it was revealed. The studio’s next game, Neva, doesn’t just build on that art style but it expands its gameplay too. This time, players control a woman running through a corrupted landscape with a wolf cub. Together, they work to rid caves and forests of black sludge and monsters. With a bigger emphasis on platforming, as well as a simple combat system that gives players more to do, I’m already enjoying Neva more than Gris. It’s a more active gameplay experience, but one that doesn’t get in the way of its emotional, minimalistic storytelling. And yes, you can pet the dog.

Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure

A player navigates a town in Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure.
Furniture & Mattress LLC

I’m sure you’ve played plenty of top-down adventure games at this point in your life. Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure is a little bit different, though. The hook here is that every piece of ground its hero walks on is part of a sliding tile puzzle. You don’t pick up a sword and slash an enemy; you find a tile with a sword on it and then move it toward that enemy by carefully sliding it over. In my hour with it, I could already see that Arranger has a lot of ideas for that mechanic. I’d shave wool off of weirdo creatures by sliding scissors into them, line up three bells so I could ring them all at once to open a door, and even vanquish a snake-like boss by pushing its spiky tail into its eye. It’s an inventive hybrid of a puzzle and adventure game, and I’m eager to see where else it goes in the full release.

Blue Prince

A magnifying glass hovers over a clue in Blue Prince.
Raw Fury

Blue Prince has been on my radar ever since I played it at this year’s Game Developers Conference, and my anticipation has only grown coming out of Tribeca Fest. The setup here is that players inherit a dead family member’s mysterious estate; however, they can only finalize the deal by finding its secret room. To do so, players move through a unique roguelite structure where they need to draw rooms like cards and place them on a board, allowing them to then navigate them. Players need to be mindful of where they place rooms, making sure not to block doors. Crossing rooms also drains energy, which limits how far they can get in one day. It’s an imaginative premise that does something with the genre that I’ve never seen before. If it’s not already on your radar, it should be now.

Thank Goodness You’re Here!

A street fight breaks out in Thanks Goodness You're Here.
Panic

If you love a good comedy game, Thank Goodness You’re Here! is worth keeping an eye on. The adventure game has players controlling a tiny guy through a series of absurd vignettes in a northern English town. When I demoed it at a Day of the Devs event last year, I was tickled as I wandered through an ice box full of fish and cigarettes, and helped townies fix their tangled hoses. It plays like a sillier Untitled Goose Game, delivering that same brand of small-scale slapstick and light-hearted laughs. You won’t have to wait long to play it yourself. Thank Goodness You’re Here! launches on August 1 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Darkwebstreamer

A computer interface shows creepy text and a moth in Darkwebstreamer.
We Have Always Lived In The Forest

The deepest cut at this year’s Tribeca Fest is a game I happened to catch at an Indie Mix event during this year’s Game Developers Conference. Darkwebstreamer is a creepy horror game where players take on the role of a Twitch streamer. They aren’t just trying to manage their audience growth and retain viewers; they’re also dealing with a host of supernatural occurrences that take a toll on their sanity. It’s a strange project that plays like a classic PC text adventure all localized in a computer interface. For those who love “creepypastas” and modern internet horror of that stripe, it’s the kind of freaky experience you’ll want to try for yourself when it launches.

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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