Samantha Cook here, Co-Founder and Producer at Artifact 5. We’re excited to announce that our first title, Anamorphine, is launching on PS4 and PS VR. In this surreal, introspective adventure game, you work through mental health issues like trauma and guilt by re-exploring warping memories. Let’s talk about what this looks like in-game and why it’s one of the most mind-bending narrative-driven games you’ll play this year.
Have you ever been so sad you couldn’t get out of bed? So transported by a piece of music, you felt like you could see into the heart of the composer? So guilt-ridden you never wanted to see the sun again? Of course you have – or at least something like that. You’re human, and you experience a wide range of emotions, some minor and some paralyzingly major.
Maybe, like many other humans, you have additional layers of anxiety stirring these feelings into their own unique patterns. Perhaps you suffer from depression that lurks in the background, sanding down the edges and dulling emotions you used to experience. Maybe you’ve experienced trauma that jumps out from around corners like the world’s most sinister prankster, dragging you back to places you don’t want to go. These demons all deeply affect our main character’s psyche, and you’ll discover how they contort his perception of the world as you explore his painful memories.
Anamorphine centers on Tyler, a freelance nature photographer, and Elena, a cellist. The couple goes through both good and bad times, which we see from Tyler’s point of view. They’re Americans who have recently relocated to Montreal so that Elena can join a notable quartet. An accident triggers Elena’s depression and strips her of her livelihood, emotional outlet, and passion. Things get dark for the couple – not horror movie dark, but the type of dark that we all feel in our most isolating moments.
As you can see in these GIFs, the game borders on hallucinogenic. We don’t use the usual text, voice-over, or UI to tell the story. You won’t be clicking buttons to navigate. Instead, we lean into visuals and evocative 3D sound, guiding you where you need to go to work through the life events and emotions that feel like they’ve sculpted themselves into a cage. They’ll show you how to look back at your past – only to have it shatter around you like a torn-up Escher painting. You’ll see yourself get stuck in a nihilistic self-fulfilling prophecy of alcohol abuse and denial. You’ll have to face the future, when living in your past may seem like a vastly more tempting option. By the end, your glass can be half full or half empty, and it’s your choice that determines how Tyler deals with his past and moves into his future.
World Mental Health Day is coming up on October 10, and as developers making a game about handling emotional and mental fallout, it’s important to us that people realize that mental health is just as important as physical health. As a studio, we try to avoid common mental health minefields like crunch and overwork. As individuals, we’ve been affected by mental health in different ways, and all know friends and family members who have fought their own battles. We hope Anamorphine helps you think about how to take care of yourself, your partners, and your friends when life is at its harshest.
You can play the demo of Anamorphine at IndieCade on October 6 – 8 in Little Tokyo, LA. Talk to us any time about our desire to bring you a game full of kaleidoscopically mind-blowing metaphors, as well as more traditional twisting staircases.