Let’s All Try To Work Out What Dollhouse Is

I haven’t been this confused by a game trailer since the first time Rouge The Bat showed up in Sonic. Dollhouse [official site] is … uh … well we’re falling at the first hurdle here, aren’t we? As far as I can tell, it’s a horror game about a woman with amnesia being pursued by some mysterious force. Set entirely in black and white, it’s film noir and 40s class in one big horror ball. Except it also has four player co-op, some sort of competitive multiplayer mode and a dozen playable characters all with different special abilities to be unlocked. Oh, and something about a deadline, implying the whole thing is on a Majora’s Mask style time limit to recover your memories and “create your own story.” Um. Start where I did, with the trailer below.

What a wonderful job of clearing things up you’ve done trailer, thanks. “Forget a remembered past or remember a forgotten future”? I mean come on, video games. But I’m intrigued, because of course I am. What’s really weird here is unlike previous mysterious oddities I’ve become enamoured with, Dollhouse’s official site and development team Creazn Studio at least seem to be trying to telling me what’s going on. They’re just either doing a stunningly poor job or they’ve created something so weird and ambitious it’s difficult to explain.

That site contains three pages of actual info, not counting a beta sign-up and the front page. Features covers the building blocks, characters details your various possible avatars and essences goes over their abilities. None describe exactly what you might be doing as or with any of this, but several make reference to “it” – the pursuing force that’s hunting you – and wanting to impede its progress. There’s also all that perception-switching stuff that implies you’ll be tracking its movements through its own eyes. The abilities and character pages seem to go into quite some detail, but without ever explaining what the various resources they’re referencing are.

As for your own goal, it seems to be to construct a story based on elements you remember, but you only have a certain amount of time to do so and the more you forget, the longer you can keep playing. The benefits and drawbacks to a more fragmented “memory” or a more full story aren’t mentioned. Doing all that seems to involve delving into your own mind, but then why do you need to do so? Why are you being attacked there? Does each character have an alternate story and, if so, why is Marie referenced as the main protagonist?

I have a lot of questions. The beta (which I assume is for the multiplayer but who the hell knows) is apparently this year, with a full release in 2016. Part of me hopes it’s never explained more fully before then, while another is crying out for clarification.

14 Comments

  1. Crimsoneer says:

    I would give literally all the moneys for this to be an official Whedon Dollhouse tycoon game. It’s probably not though.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      The whole consciousness switching idea made me immediately think of that too. Can I play as a prostitute? It was a great series but felt cynical after a while as every week they trief to shoehorn in a reason to put Eliza Dushku in thigh boots and stockings.

  2. tomimt says:

    That was among the most pretentious trailers I’ve seen in a good while.

  3. maninahat says:

    I do hate how “Noir” is lazily attempted in many games – just making something black and white will not capture the actual cinematic language used in a hardboiled movie (which, conversely, when made in colour are still are clearly noir, such as Blade Runner or China town).

  4. vlonk says:

    Going by the special abilities mentioned on the characters page I would assume its a game about running around, avoiding a slenderman-alike and collecting/solving puzzles around paintings hanging on the walls in a mansion. I also expect elements of the excellent screencheat and a variation of the good old “pairs” or “memory” or another classic game revolving around memorization and puzzle pieces.

    • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

      I might have missed something in the trailer, but is there anywhere they claim the game is “noir?” Maybe they just wanted to make a black and white game. They’re allowed to do that.

  5. BorgiaCamarones says:

    I’m not going to say this game copies Fallout 3, but couldn’t they have picked another song? It’s not like they can play it in their video game trailer and not have people think about Fallout 3.
    Ultimately, nevermind how well it fits the theme, I think that’s a poor choice.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Actually, I thought about the first 15 seconds of Megadeth’s 1988 track Set the World Afire. I thought about it when I saw the Fallout 3 intro, too. Why are all these videogames ripping off Megadeth?

  6. Nixitur says:

    Hang on, this has multiplayer? That seems like an odd choice. I can’t imagine anything less scary or tense than having three goofballs jump around the scenery while we ostensibly try to solve a mystery.

  7. volcaniclastic says:

    I think they’re using “it” in the context of a hide-and-seek game, but apparently the person that is “it” also turns invisible.

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      Phasma Felis says:

      There are suggestions that, while It is invisible, Its victim can see through Its eyes, which is actually a pretty awesome idea. Watching It stalking darkened corridors, turning a corner, suddenly recognizing yourself in front of It, turning to run and watching your own desperately pumping legs as It closes in…

      If that’s not actually what’s happening, someone should make that game.

      • Ben Barrett says:

        there’s a few games that try the concept every so often, second-person shooters and the like

        it’s usually infinitely shitter than it feels like it should be, but a little better than it sounds like it would be

  8. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    …Wait.

    Is this Frog Fractions 2?