Anamorphine is an Introspective Journey Coming to PS4 and PS VR This Year

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Anamorphine is an Introspective Journey Coming to PS4 and PS VR This Year

An introspective journey that aims to shine a light on mental health and how we deal with things like trauma, guilt and depression.

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.

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9 Author Replies

  • I’m intrigued, I would love to play the demo. Can I get a PS code?

    • We’re glad you’re into it! Since it’s a narrative experience, unless you play it at a festival, we’re saving the whole thing for launch day (no early access, etc.). Keep your eyes peeled for our launch date announcement! If you have any questions about the game, feel free to ask me! -Samantha

  • Looks like a very interesting experience! Definitely on my radar now.

    • Thanks glassmusic! Loving the gramophone pic. The game is strong on the sound design and composition side, too, since we believe that’s one of the best ways to convey emotion.

  • Looks really interesting I’m liking all these games dealing with mental health lately in the indie scene. How much will this cost at launch?

  • Also for the VR portion is it smooth turning or does it use click turning only?

    • We’re glad you like the subject matter! We’re of the opinion that games should be like movies or books – able to tackle any topic, since they’re such a flexible medium.
      Great questions! We’re still fine-tuning the controls in VR – right now it’s clicks, though you can turn smoothly based on where you look. Everyone feels differently about which way to do it, so we’re testing, testing, testing! Got a preference? Price TBA, but it’ll be $20 or under. -Samantha

    • Smooth turning. I tend to find click turning to be too disjointing. That and I end up over turning when I want to look at something and bouncing back and forth over turning between where I want to look which is annoying. But I’m lucky and don’t get motion sick from running around in VR for the most part. RE7 would have been impossible for me if I was stuck with click turning and screaming for my life.

  • Can’t wait to play this! I’m so excited to be a gamer right now. Thanks to you for taking a chance on developing experiences like this that move gaming forward to something more than just shooters and RPG’s (not that there’s anything wrong with those, either).

    • We’re glad you’re on the same page, erlycon78! We know it might not be for everyone in the way some games are, but we know there’s an audience out there that wants more games like this. Our goal is to contribute to culture, as lofty as that sounds. Really glad to hear you’re down with our chosen genre :D. -Samantha

  • I love that this game is tackling such a complex, but pertinent subject matter as mental health. And seems to be doing so in a very intriguing way. When do you expect the game to be available for everyone?

  • I’m interested, I’ll keep this on my radar.

  • Day one for me so no launch date yet or Pre-Order ?

  • As cool as this looks I can’t buy it at launch. I really feel the need to play Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Heard very good things about it Metacritic is a solid 8.1 considering it’s a shorter game designed around mental health.

    I’ll get to this one after that one. No reason I haven’t pulled the trigger on it other than an insanely large backlog… Well I guess work has gotten in the way… As well as hurricanes… and redoing the front door… Importing and playing Pinball FX3… Family in the hospital… A wife who is mentally ill… Her sometimes suicidal father… Her bipolar mother who helped inflict so much of the mental illness… My mom’s suicidal tendencies from her facial cancer…

    Ok let’s just say I haven’t delved into the gaming side of mental illness because I’m dealing with my fair share on a daily basis. Not to be a downer, but seriously. Maybe it’s just my Asperger’s Syndrome saying this but I think everyone is at least a little mentally ill. Overly neurotic at times, overly paranoid at times… Hopefully this overshare contributes something to the dialogue at large. Let’s get solutions going and it starts by fixing healthcare.

    • No rush – Anamorphine won’t actually come out until the winter. Maybe it’ll be good timing, once you’ve finished Hellblade. And yes – life is hard and complicated and full of lows amidst the highs, and mental illness can certainly be on a spectrum. Thanks for sharing and being open to the topic in games, even if you’re looking for more escapism than reality in your downtime (though we have some of that in the game, too).

  • My wife and I are currently undergoing licensing to adopt from foster care, and the stories of trauma and depression that these children all go through is at times overwhelming. I’ve been reading as much material as i can to prepare for this transition, but as a lifelong gamer: thank you for tackling these subjects! I look forward to experiencing this, and sharing it with my partner, and perhaps sharing it with a child who joins our family. Thank you.

    • That’s amazing – fostering is a huge job, I hope the licensing goes well. Our game isn’t necessarily child-friendly, since it contains some mature subject matter. Of course that will depend on the child and how you frame the game and the events in it. I hope Anamorphine will be a useful glimpse into our take on some of these issues. Good luck!

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