Performance Anxiety: The Black Glove

The Black Glove is a new project from a selection of the developers who worked on Bioshock, from the first game right up until Burial at Sea and the winding down of Irrational. It has instantly become one of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing more of, although that’s partly because there’s not quite enough on show right now. Based on the Kickstarter page and pitch video alone, The Black Glove appears to focus on all of the aspects of Bioshock that I had an interest in, without all the running, gunning and sorcerous genetics that never really tickled my fancy. Perhaps it’s Fort Frolic the game, except choosing to toy with performance, play and surrealism rather than murder-art. Indulge yourself.

The narrative is focused on a run-down theatre, in which reality seems to be having a bit of a wobble. Perhaps because yesterday’s most exciting news has left it fresh in my mind, the set up reminds me of a more playful mode of Lynch’s Lodges. Your task is to curate the exhibits within The Equinox. There are three creators in residence – an artist, a filmmaker and a musical act with the delightful name Many Embers – and by utilising the power of the titular glove, you’ll be able to alter the medium, message and muse of each creator.

Doing so might cause a country music performance to become a ratpack lounge music act, or a kaiju movie to melt away, revealing a silent era classic. To unlock the powers of the glove though, you must reform Spinal Tap play “certain games of skill and chance that allow us to interact with… what you might call ‘fourth-dimensional space.'” The only one revealed in the video is a maze-based arcade game, which you can see in the video above.

I’m mightily intrigued. The target is $550,000 and the project launched late last night. The team have written the following about their prospects:

We’ve learned from the successes and struggles of past projects how to make creative choices that keep cost and time overruns to a minimum.

Through this, we’ve scoped and budgeted The Black Glove for quality and completion by this time next year.

But neither making games nor managing a new company is easy. We’ve set ambitious goals to make an original game with high production values. We realize that every day will present new and unforeseen challenges, both in maintaining our creative goals and refining newly-formed work pipelines.

We’ve worked together for years, so we’re confident in our ability to address these issues together, but are aware of the difficulties involved.

I’m confident that I want to play the game eventually, if only to uncover all the different performances and creations. Maybe it’s just the skeletons and the music, but does anyone else smell the tarmac of Kentucky Route Zero around these parts?


  1. RedViv says:

    Sander Cohen: The Game? I am surprisingly intrigued by this.


      My thoughts exactly. It’s like Sander Cohen was allowed to play through Fort Frolic (the best part of Bioshock I in my opinion) and then said “psht, step aside, amateurs”.

  2. golem09 says:

    Quite impressive what they already put together for the kickstarter demo. It indeed looks like Bioshock without Levine and without combat.

  3. daphne says:

    This is highly interesting, $50 (my pledge) says that they will not be reaching their goal. It’s just too ambitious for 2014. Hoping to be proven wrong.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Yeah. I love what I’ve seen so far and have pledged, but they need to build up a lot more momentum if they are going to make it.

      This and the Case of Charles Dexter Ward starting their Kickstart campaigns almost on the same day. Damn. :(

  4. The First Door says:

    This does look really interesting! I always found the combat to be the worse part of the Bioshocks I played, so definitely seems up my street.

  5. Shadowcat says:

    one of the game’s I’m most looking forward to

    You’re fired. Ed.

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      Adam Smith says:

      Yeesh. I’m tempted to set fire to myself after that. Ta for spotting – fixed.

    • Oozo says:

      …unless it was a subtle hint that the game you are secretly most looking forward to is Tale of Game’s’ Barkley 2. (Which would be appropriate, because it is my most anticipated game.)


      This Ed fellow is super harsh eh?

  6. Ant says:

    I’d back this even if it was just a Wizard of Wor reboot, as shown in the video.

  7. Gonefornow says:

    Interactive story driven digital media really isn’t my thing, but I’m willing to give it a try if they manage to create something new when it comes to agency, choice and consequence.

    The trailer just makes it seem like the interactivity is limited to playing minigames (side activities that have nothing to do with the world or the characters) and then choosing the next story branch to embark on. That is nothing new. Hopefully I’m wrong on this one.

  8. kwyjibo says:

    The whole thing just feels forced, like they’ve just slapped the first thoughts that came into their heads and we’re just to assume that it works.

    Why does it look like Bioshock? Because they’ve done it before. Because they know they’re good at it. But I’m unconvinced that the game is actually served by it.

    You want to house a visual artist, a filmmaker,a musician and arcade games in one building? Set it in the Barbican. The architecture is way more interesting, it’ll give the whole game a coherency, and will look a lot fresher than Bioshock-lite. The weirdness offered by the Black Glove itself will only be amplified by its real world setting.

    I have no idea why they’ve inserted arcade games either. It’s like they thought that without challenge, it’s no longer a game, and the gamergate crowd will call them names. Something like a haunted arcade might be interesting, but here it’s one isolated machine, get a win token and then put that token into the time machine immediately adjacent. It doesn’t seem to fit into the world, it’s like they just wanted a press X to gameplay machine. It’s forced.

  9. Thirith says:

    Yeah, my first thought at seeing those skeletons was Kentucky Route Zero. Which isn’t a bad thing, obviously.

  10. xcession says:

    Perhaps I missed it, but *why* should I want to do the things this game asks me to do? Just to experience all the permutations for each character? It seems to be an investigative end-game replay simulator. It’s the game where the whole premise is “I got the evil ending, I wonder what the good ending looked like”. Meta!

    • Hex says:

      I think you’re supposed to do the stuff because it’s your character’s job. You’ve been hired on to do the stuff. Do the stuff.

      Do the stuff.

  11. Unknown says:

    Binfinite without the combat and with NPCs you can actually interact with would be a dream come true. However, this idea looks a little undercooked. The arcade game mechanic feels tacked on.

  12. Hex says:

    A surprising lack of Twin Peaks discussion, despite the article’s acknowledgement of the influence of same.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Well, since you brought it up, did you hear that Frost & Lynch are making a new season!? Laura wasn’t kidding with that whole “See you in 25 years” thing…

  13. Jackablade says:

    That’s a weird one. It’s kind of hard to grasp exactly what it actually is, which may not do wonders for their sizeable Kickstarter campaign.

    There doesn’t really look like theres a hell of a lot to do. More or less press this button to see what happens, then try a different one. Maybe that’s enough of an experience in itself – there looks like there’ll be some interesting things to see, but its the kind of game for which I’d really want to see a review before I put any money down.