Down In The Burroughs: Tangiers

By Adam Smith on May 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

If Tangiers were an art project, a slice of multimedia world-building rather than a game, it would have my full attention. For some time now, I’ve been constructing collages in my mind based on the sinister screenshots that have been released but today sees the release of a new video, the first since the successful close of last year’s Kickstarter. Drawing inspiration from the 20th century avant garde, including Dada, Burroughs and Ballard, Tangiers sits alongside Kentucky Route Zero as a fascinating diversion from decades of accumulated gaming canon fodder. It’s a gathering of unusual suspects and that’s exciting but – hold onto your trousers – it’s also an immersive stealth game, based around simulation rather than tightly scripted puzzles. Drink this in.

You can’t spell ‘stealth’ without ‘steal’ and one of the things you’ll be pilfering in Tangiers is language. Should be slightly more interesting than the 800th coin for a collection that unlocks a bit of concept art. The idea of using language to ‘spread disinformation’ brings graffiti to mind and the way that characters rearrange words on walls supports that connection. Tagging the city walls with linguistic dissonance may turn out to be a devious way of laying traps – words that behave like noisemaker arrows, words that behave like mines – but there may be more to it than that.

Whatever the ultimate meaning of the purloined parlance, Tangiers is one of the more intriguing prospects due in the back half of 2014.

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26 Comments »

Top comments

  1. Niko says:

    “Tagging the city walls with linguistic dissonance”. You mean like “Treasure ahead, therefore Try jumping”?

  1. stiffkittin says:

    Wow. Takes me back to the days of listening to Winterkalte and watching an antique vhs of shadow of light.

    The world is so much brighter now. I think I might need this.

  2. puppybeard says:

    I’d give that a go.
    Anyone else suddenly wondering where their Chris Cunningham dvd ended up?

  3. sabrage says:

    Duchamp’s Fountain raises the obvious question: Why am I salivating?

  4. All is Well says:

    I can’t decide if I should be glad or wary that they claim inspiration from actual artists such as Dada and filmmakers like Buñuel. It’s both encouraging that they aren’t looking to make “something like Game X, but with Currently Popular Thing Y” but it also seems like something Jeffrey Yohalem could say about Far Cry 3.

    • Adam Smith says:

      The first three Thief games are also cited as a key inspiration. I’m eager to see if the writers and artists listed link into more than art style and narrative concerns. The word-theft and manipulation suggests there’s at least an attempt to integrate some of those ideas into mechanical design.

      Time will tell!

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      Grey Cap says:

      Well, ambition alone does not guarantee success. But a game that’s designed in homage to Brown-Grey Manshoot XI could fail as well. I like ambition (but take that with a pinch of salt; I thought Far Cry 3 was pretty enjoyable as well).

      • All is Well says:

        Yeah, I did too, so I didn’t mean to say that it was a “bad game”, but rather that the literary or narrative qualities Yohalem talked about (I can’t remember exactly what it was he claimed, but it was something along the lines of FC3 being a very smart commentary on games and gaming) were either not present, not very articulated or just very well hidden beneath all the “kill 3 bears to make a holster”-business. Or, you know, I’m too stupid to have noticed it.

        All I meant was that the claims made about Far Cry 3′s intellectual qualities seemed overblown to me :)

  5. Muzman says:

    I think this game seems really cool just from atmosphere alone. But I’m kind of terrified X number of people will get hold of it and just say “This is just shit texturing and animation covering for its self by being “art” and looking ok from that one angle.”

    (something heavily composed 2d games don’t really have to deal with in the same way.)

  6. Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

    Dear God, I want to be inside this place.
    I want to collect the rocks in desert and then sell them to old crazy man that lives in sewers for useful trinkets, one of which help to summon the rain in that black spot of land, completely dried out and basically free from any life, to grow mysterious flowers that I don’t know of their use for, yet. Another trinket produces a really annoying noise and emit strange musky smell that will spook away the Hunters from the lizard cliffs (probably originated from hollow-chambered glottal bone of some scary extinct predator of the lands, no one remembers for sure)

    And then I will wastefully exchange strange flower with the nice Hotel keeper old lady from urban regions, to rent the room for one night and watch TV for 5 to 10 minutes, while inhaling powdered pink crystal. That way I hope to learn the revelation, and when I go back to the “out of order” floating bridge, the floating parts and pebble will rearrange themselves, so I can walk skyward and look for someone to ask about my real purpose (i.e. searching the quest giver NPC), only to find out that God was supposedly eaten by a giant serpent with insane moustache, constantly crunching teeth and terrible breath stench. Ow wait, that thing is from something else.

    Not probably to happen, but, man, am I craving for surreal (with close to reality bits of our worlds, but kinda twisted like in fever dream) world exploration game with chunks of survival the natural horrors in it.

    • All is Well says:

      In the mean time, you can (re)play Pathologic!

      • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

        I can only replay Mor.Utopia so many times. My hopes were high for the planned remake, but since it takes half a year for IcePickers to post a bloody Kickstarter page, I’m afraid it will be ready no sooner, than after release of Half-Life: We Finally Bloody Made Something That’S Not A Hat.
        By that time we will already live in surreal survival horror world IRL, so why bother/

  7. Niko says:

    “Tagging the city walls with linguistic dissonance”. You mean like “Treasure ahead, therefore Try jumping”?

    • Geebs says:

      You must have a very intellectual server. For me, it’s “destroy but hole” as far as the eye can see.

      • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

        Well, at least they weren’t suggesting there’s anything amazing about it.

        • Niko says:

          Or anything involving female NPCs and the words “tongue” and “rear”.

          • Geebs says:

            “Chest ahead”

            I loved the “skeleton, don’t give up” meme though.

          • Niko says:

            I’ve put exactly that one by the skeleton at the very bottom of the well in Majula! Didn’t know it was a meme, though.

          • Geebs says:

            Favourite spots I have seen were early in Harvest Valley, and the one behind the door in Lost Bastille. Always cheered me up wherever I saw it :)

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    Matt_W says:

    Very worth watching. Looks like Lynch meets Mieville to me — dystopian industrial horror. I love how the open spaces are made claustrophobic by the monochromatic palette, dark ambient soundtrack, and eerie, slightly disjointed (literally), deserted landscapes.

  9. The Random One says:

    I hope it turns out to be the brilliant thing we’re all expecting it to be and not just a drab stealth game with a Burroughs paintjob.

    • Geebs says:

      I await the inevitable RPS complaints about there being too much actual gameplay :-/

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      Grey Cap says:

      Well, based on how the creator has outlined his plans for the gameplay (thiefish stealth; a disguise mechanic based on stealing the physical manifestations of things NPCs say; using those same words in special environments to change the environment; and the procedural deformation of the game world as player actions destroy reality) I don’t think it can ever be truly drab.

      I expect there’s a decent chance that the game will fail spectacularly, but it would still be a noble, ambitious and inspiring failure. With a fantastic Burroughs paintjob :)

  10. Slawkenbergius says:

    Really looking forward to this one. I mainly backed Kickstarters from known names, but this was the one that I thought was worth a punt… The soundtrack and visual style grabbed me from the beginning. If the gameplay gels with the general ambience of the game, then it’ll be a brilliant experience. (Alliteration accidental!)

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    Tunips says:

    Playing Assassins Creed 2, I found to my surprise and delight that I remembered my way around the major paths of Venice, after visiting as a youth.
    I played Sleeping Dogs before going to Hong Kong, and made good use of the wonky but generally sound space-diagrams.
    I do not think my trip to Morocco last year is going to help me in this game.