Spinning barbed wire. Burning sunflowers. Twisted shadows inching ever closer to a tiny bulb of light.
Over the last three days Bethesda has enmeshed the gaming universe in speculation about a forthcoming game announcement, thanks to a trio of cryptic, 5-second, Johannes Sebastian Bach-music-set vignettes that the company has been releasing through its Vine account.
Guesses ranged from Fallout 4 (“Oppression, fire, destruction, a composer whose works were featured in Fallout 3? — case closed!”) to a new Dishonored (“Well, there does appear to be a charming residence behind those sunflowers.”) to Wolfenstein (“And an open-shirted zombie!“), but it turns out that just about everyone ended up missing the mark.
IGN has revealed that it will be unveiling Bethesda’s teased title this Friday, and that it’s none other than Zwei — the (codenamed) survival horror project announced last April from Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami and his studio Tango Gameworks. Tango was acquired by Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax in 2010, bringing it under the reigns of the powerhouse publisher. According to IGN, tomorrow’s reveal will include the official title name for Zwei and its first teaser trailer.
But just how might Zwei fit into the survival horror genre of today? Mikami departed the Resident Evil franchise after 2004’s Resident Evil 4 (arguably its zenith) to work on God Hand, Shadows of the Damned and Vanquish. In that time, a survival-horror landscape once clearly defined by its noun paring has become increasingly conflated with action/shooter tropes, while Resident Evil itself has garnered the reputation of a muddied genre hybrid after the disappointing release of Resident Evil 6.
It just might be that disarray, however, that has Bethesda so confident about the vision of Zwei. Judging from the concept artwork above — all moonlit alleys, twisted trees and overgrown shambles; crows the only living beings in sight — the game derives more chills from atmosphere than action. Also, articulating the game’s direction last year, Mikami asserted that he and the development team at Tango were striving for a “true”, a “pure”, survival horror experience:
“A true survival horror game is one in which the player confronts and overcomes fear. I’ve found my focus and once again I’m striving for pure survival horror. I am being very hands-on in the development of this game to ensure that the quality is there. Rest assured.”
Only Bethesda’s unveiling tomorrow will provide more real answers about Project Zwei — it’s scheduled for 8:00 AM Eastern on IGN. Any game making itself known at this point has a strong chance of landing on next-generation consoles; it will be interesting to see if this is the first of Bethesda’s “boundary-pushing” announcements for 2013 — and whether its inevitable Fallout 4 reveal isn’t following too far behind.
Are you looking forward to see what Bethesda — and, more specifically, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami — has in store for Zwei?
Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple, and be sure to check back with Game Rant tomorrow for a full recap of the announcement.