Archives: Tamas Kemenczy




Brandon Boyer

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[It’s no secret that I count Kentucky Route Zero as one of my favorite videogames of all time, and one of my highest recommendations particularly for people who haven’t dipped their toes in the videogame waters in a while, and so seeing artist Tamas Kemenczy was a top priority at this year’s Game Developers Conference.

His talk (linked below) was a fantastic account of how theater and film staging influenced the game’s visuals & transitions, made doubly valuable by loops of those pieces playing independently as Kemenczy talked. I was particularly entranced by Burton’s face in Equus, as below, which I didn’t recognize, and snapped a quick photo to have him identify it later.

Having then subsequently watched & been blown away by Equus, I asked Kemenczy to ID all the films in his repertoire of influences, which he’s written up in full after the jump, and to which I’ve added streaming/DVD/Blu-ray links, where available. I hope you find it as valuable a resource as I already have!]

I gave a talk this year at GDC about the scenography of Kentucky Route Zero, the theatrical and cinematic influences on the game, and how we go about designing for performance. Some folks asked about the films shown during the talk, so here’s a list of them, but I thought I’d include some that were on the shortlist but didn’t make it onto slides, and some of these were shown in the KRZ talk the year before as well.

(Not included in this list is David Lynch, who we admire and most people are already familiar with.)


Equus (1977)

I really like the long take of Dysart’s (Richard Burton’s) face, totally stressed out about the chaotic moment that brought about Alan’s personal horse-god. There is a literary connection in KRZ to this play, but also the film by Sidney Lumet has dramatic flourishes that we took to heart.

[Available on DVD & Blu-ray.]




Brandon Boyer

6 Replies

Kentucky Route Zero was one of the first best surprises of 2011 (as well as one of the first Kickstarter projects I had zero hesitation in donating to), a “magical realist” bluegrass adventure game pitched by Chicago-based indie Cardboard Computer that was as gloriously close to approaching the work of the Coen Brothers and Jeunet & Caro as games can probably come (see its initial trailer below and the references should become a bit more clear).

Still deep in development over the past two years, the game’s raised its head just above the surface only a rare handful of times, while Cardboard Computer head Jake Elliott let loose a small flurry of similarly abstract & haunting micro-adventure games like Balloon Diaspora, Ruins and M83-collaboration We Were You.

Cut to today, when Elliott has finally officially revealed the latest look at the game (at top), with a new and frankly completely jaw-dropping aesthetic overhaul by new collaborator Tamas Kemenczy, that should perfectly illustrate why this re-instantly became one of my most anticipated games.

Elliott says the new plan is to break up the game into five more-manageable acts to be released throughout 2013 after an initial drop in December. While you wait, do as I do on those cold & solitary half-drunken nights, and loop the soundtrack clip above ad infinitum, a washed-out version of bluegrass standard What Would You Give (In Exchange for Your Soul) by in-game band, The Bedquilt Ramblers, who elsewhere in the game’s score go even more amazingly ambient — and every bit as infinitely repeatable — thanks to remix work by the Ramblers’ Ben Babbitt. Keep an eye on the game’s official website for more upcoming information.