Y’all like eyeballs and bizarrely erotic macro shots of snakes? Heavily artifacted videos of burning buildings? Upside-down legs gently navigating big tanks of water? Who doesn’t! Those are like the top four Google search queries on any given weekday afternoon. Surely knowing this, FMV auteur Sam Barlow and his newly funded development studio Half Mermaid today unveiled Project A, a mysterious new video game about the player’s relationship with cinema.
As you can see from the game’s heavily redacted Steam page, Project A features all four of these popular concepts, as well as others such as “mask,” “window,” “gun,” “mirror,” and “lips.” There’s not a lot to go on other than these teaser videos and images, but the text that wasn’t blocked out indicates that the game is set in 2022, and that Sam Barlow (or someone named after him) is involved in whatever lore this universe has.
“All I can say about Project A is it’s unlike anything else,” said friend of the site, Keyblade Master and Half Mermaid associate producer Natalie Watson on Twitter. “I can’t wait for you all to experience it.”
In an interview with PC Gamer, Barlow says that Project A is partly a response to the perception of his previous FMV games, Her Story and Telling Lies, as interactive movies.
“Her Story and Telling Lies were made up of realistic found footage, but people still call them interactive movies. So in this next project, let’s tackle movies,” Barlow said. “Let’s deconstruct what a cinematic visual is.”
Barlow also said that Project A will allow for the sort of creative freedoms that his work on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories gave him in the late 2000s. “It [horror] also unlocks a lot of fun ideas, and a chance to interrogate the relationship between the game and the player,” Barlow said. “I don’t want that to be adversarial, but with some push and pull. I want to see what happens when you put constraints on the player, or when you push them in a direction that isn’t entirely comfortable.”
Project A‘s full title might be Project Ambrosio, as that’s what’s listed on the game’s Steam Community page, but until Barlow says that aloud somewhere, we can only assume. It’s also possible that Barlow and company will only ever refer to the game as Project A███████, because auteurs be like that sometimes.
Speaking of Barlow’s company, you may have noticed that its name has changed from Drowning a Mermaid (bad, weird, uncomfortable), to Half Mermaid, which is far better, though not without its own set of questions. If a mermaid is a half woman half fish creature, would that make a half mermaid three-fourths of a woman and one quarter fish? When I hear the words “half mermaid,” I imagine a normal woman except with one of those fin legs that a lot of the background fish characters have in Spongebob Squarepants. The official Half Mermaid website shares no explanation, nor does the studio’s official Twitter account, so maybe the answer will be hidden within Project A‘s inscrutable machinations.