The immersive sim supergroup at Question, the studio behind The Magic Circle, have announced their next game. The Blackout Club is a cooperative multiplayer game starring teens who discover a secret nighttime society of sleepwalking adults meeting in tunnels beneath their small town, then set about spying on them, recording evidence, and trying to find their missing friend. It sounds like some sort of surveillance-focused multiplayer immersive sim, which is wild. Here, watch the announcement trailer:
I like horror stories which feel real as soon as they enter my brain, snagging on a half-forgotten, half-dreamed memory that seemed real but… no, it must have been a movie I watched. The Blackout Club does that to me. I think it was a movie? It must have been.
Seeing as immersive sims are made by loads of parts working together in a big system, I’ll quote you a huge chunk of the marketing blurb rather than rehash and ruin bits:
“To save their community and themselves, the teens will need to capture the conspiracy on camera and prove its existence to the world. Up to four players will sneak out of their homes and go on surveillance missions filled with procedurally-generated elements including variable objectives, enemy encounters, loot drops, and more. Every night will be a different adventure as the team seeks out additional clues and explores new parts of their neighborhood and its ominous underbelly. The club must trust no one as they get closer to finding out what happened to their missing friend — and the cause of their uncontrollable blackouts.
“Surviving the dangers of night will require intelligence, improvisation, and skill. Sleepwalking adults that could be their neighbors or relatives now seek to drag them underground. Players must create and coordinate diversions and use other tactics to break the enemy’s vice-like grip. The last player left standing must avoid attracting the attention of an even more dangerous entity – one that pursues its prey relentlessly – one that can’t be seen with open eyes…
“Player characters will be customizable with a variety of powers and equipment loadouts. Every member of the group will play a distinct role and utilize devices like drones or deployable traps to outwit their foes and gather evidence of their crimes. When the mission is complete, players will head back to the hideout, where they can level up and acquire new abilities for use on future outings.”
I’m blown away™ by how much collective immersive sim experience Question have for such a small team. The studio was co-founded by Jordan Thomas, who was the lead designer of Thief: Deadly Shadows and the creative director of BioShock 2 as well as working on the other BioShocks, and Stephen Alexander, an effects artist on BioShock and Binfinite. They were joined on The Magic Circle by Kain Shin, a programmer on Deus Ex: Invisible War, Thief: Deadly Shadows, and Dishonored. Since then they’ve welcomed Binfinite and Minerva’s Den producer Michael “Patches” Kelly, Dishonored gameplay programmer Jeff Lake, and David Pittman. I hadn’t noticed Pittman signing up, and am delighted. He’s the fella behind Eldritch, Neon Struct, and Slayer Shock – the last of which Blackout reminds a little me of, with its plucky teens and procedural missions. Interesting!
The Blackout Club is due in early 2019, by the end of March. For now, hey, the folks at cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer seem to have chatted with Jordan Thomas about it.