Frictional Games New Title Teasers Are Becoming An ARG
I’m always wary of new viral marketing schemes that border on being ARGs. I was pretty into The Marble Hornets, a YouTube found footage series that popularized the now infamous Slender Man. The videos themselves were low budget, and it often showed in the special effects and acting. However, there’s little that compares in terms of internet rabbit holes. Each video was a frame-by-frame hunt for clues. Beyond that, several companion channels were created to add to the ever-expanding lore and mystery. Unfortunately, it never built up into the legendary climax we all hoped for. The series ended in 2014 on a cliffhanger. It spawned a spin-off movie, Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story, and the Clear Lakes 44 successor channel, but both of these failed to answer any meaningful questions and the hype fizzled out. Long term fans still populate the discussion forums and massive wiki, but for many the series serves as a warning to not get too invested in a project that has all the right questions, but none of the answers.
Now that my bitter tangent is out of the way, let’s talk about Frictional Games. The creators of iconic horror titles Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA, the good people at Frictional have taken a far more cryptic approach to unveiling their new title. They registered the domain name https://nextfrictionalgame.com/ back in December, with the only content being a flashing white dot. The dot has since grown into something that resembles the shrimp baby from Darkseed 2. Since then, fans have been pouring over the site for clues that might lead to more information on their next game.
Well, internet sleuths have already cracked some of the code thanks to new elements on the games website. Towards the bottom of the page where the social media icons are listed, a new button appeared. Hovering over the image will reveal only a short string of letter and numbers. When the code is added to the end of a YouTube URL, it takes you to this video:
How delightfully mysterious. A few things to note about this video. First off, the symbol on the rock (featured image above). I have no idea what it is, but perhaps one of the more dedicated fans out there will recognize it from one of their previous games. I honestly doubt it’s any kind of reference to SOMA as that game was about a technology gone mad in the future, not about actual Eldritch horrors. The video description reads, “Video Cassette 16/2/83, copy from a private collection. Marked Shetpe, KSSR.” Shetpe is a small town in Kazakhstan, a country that in 1983 was known as the Kazakh Societ Socialist Republic (KSSR). While speculations abound that the new title is a followup to SOMA, it’s worth noting that Shetpe isn’t a coastal city. So what you might initially assume the video depicts a coastal rock formation, note that no ocean is visible in the film. This gives further credence to the idea that the trailer isn’t for some kind of SOMA followup.
But wait! There’s more! Further inspection of the https://nextfrictionalgame.com/ CSS code reveals another string of characters that once again can be combined into a YouTube video. It leads to the following:
The description of the video reads, “Artefact 1/7/115, marked “Triple Crown”. Video unrecoverable, Audio track fragment reconstructed, denoised.” From what I can tell, it’s the sound of some monster howling. This is where I hit my sleuthing limits, as I have no idea how to manipulate audio files. Perhaps some intrepid audiophiles out there will be able to suss out some more secrets from the sinister scream. The name “Tripple Crown” generally refers to a horseracing accomplishment where a three-year-old thoroughbred horse wins three specific races within a year. It’s an incredibly rare accomplishment, accomplished by only a handful of horses in the history of the sport. I couldn’t find any information about Triple Crown winners from Kazakhstan, though Sweden (where Frictional games is located) does have three Tripple Crown winners. Someone that knows more about Swedish horse racing will have to weigh in at this point. I also couldn’t find any information on the 1/7/115 set of numbers. Perhaps you will have more luck than I.
In any case, I don’t think that this is going to be a sequel to one of Frictional’s previous titles. If it’s related to any previous Frictional game, it’s probably Penumbra. The time period and isolated town themes fit that better than Amnesia or SOMA. But like I said, I really don’t know. What do you all think? What have you been able to discover? What would you like to see next from the studio? Let me know in the comments!