Playdead is a slow-paced and secretive developer, but there are a few tidbits of information about its follow-up to 2016’s classic Inside.
Denmark’s Playdead is a remarkably slow and patient developer, even by game industry standards – the company has produced only two titles in its entire 15-year history, Limbo and Inside. Of course, it’s not quite as essential to keep churning out products when each one is a hit, but it’s natural to ask what the studio might be up to some four years after its last release.
In a simplistic description, both of its games so far have been 2.5D adventure titles in which players solve physics-based puzzles, gradually uncovering a story. Playdead is best known, however, for its visuals, mood-setting, and mystery. Limbo, for example, uses a dark ambient soundtrack and stark, silhouetted black-and-white. Both games are deliberately obscure in their storytelling – there’s no dialogue and very little text, which lets players wield their imaginations to fill in what’s going on. There are multiple theories about the implications of Inside, yet it could actually ruin things if there was an official explanation.
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Playdead has been teasing its next game since March 2018, IGN notes, when it handed out postcards at the annual Game Developer’s Conference. Two years later, it was revealed that Epic Games would be both publishing and funding the game, claiming 50% of all profits in return. It’s safe to say that on PC the game will probably be an Epic Games Store exclusive, possibly up to a year if it follows templates like Remedy’s Control. The company used the same month to put out a short teaser video on Twitter, showing a small rover on a desolate Mars-like landscape.
What Will Playdead’s Next Game Actually Be Like?
A more informative news break came in January 2021, when Playdead job listings teased a “3rd-person science fiction adventure set in a remote corner of the universe,” adding that it will be “built for multiple platforms on Unreal Engine.” The listing even included pieces of concept art, similar in style to the Twitter video but showing things like megalithic structures and what appears to be the game’s astronaut pilot protagonist. In one piece of artwork, the character is shown dragging a tattered parachute while gazing at a fireball entering the planet’s atmosphere. It could be that the person climbs into the rover to travel longer distances.
As for a release date, Playdead is remaining characteristically silent. It could be that the company will have something to show at E3 2021, an all-digital event running June 12 through June 15. Even then it might be best to tamper expectations – there could be a trailer, and perhaps a vague 2022 or 2023 launch date, but probably not the 30-minute gameplay demo so many of us Limbo and Inside fans would want.
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