Frictional Games, the Swedish developers behind the notoriously chilling Amnesia: The Dark Descent and its scary sci-fi follow-up Soma, are up to something new and characteristically spooky. Fans are trying to unravel what could be the start of a new alternate reality game (ARG), but we know for sure that Frictional's cryptic teases are pointing at the studio's next game.
Why? Well, everything the community has uncovered so far has come from nextfrictionalgame.com, which is about as straightforward as a URL can be. On the surface, the site doesn't reveal much: there's a flickering white semi-circle in the middle of the page, a newsletter sign-up button, and some links to Frictional's various social media accounts. Right next to the link to Frictional's Discord channel—where folks are now pouring over the few clues they've uncovered—there's an emblem that resembles a hieroglyphic of an eye.
The eye symbol points to a YouTube video ID for this unlisted 9-second clip, titled "Box 52, Tape 16." It's shaky camera footage of some nondescript rocks, save for one that has an image carved on its flat face. The clip's description says it's a video from 1983 marked "Shetpe, KSSR," referring to a village in Kazakhstan (still known in '83 as the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, hence the abbreviation).
Another unlisted YouTube clip, "Box 7 Reel 2, Partial Success," was discovered in the page source for nextfrictionalgame.com. There's no video, but you can hear some unearthly, hair-raising howls in the clip. If you were hoping Frictional might deviate from past successes and make a game that won't try to scare the hell out of you, this clip suggests otherwise. Here's hoping the studio includes a "Safe Mode" like it did with Soma.
Assuming this is the start of a new ARG, it seems likely that there are more videos hidden on Frictional's channel. If I had the time to devote to puzzling out these clues, I'd try to see if there was something hidden in the spectrogram of the "Box 7" clip audio, or maybe dig into the fact that the rock video was uploaded three days ago while the "Box 7" clip went up on January 10.
Alas, the sleuthing is probably best left to the internet's ARG diehards. We'll be sure to stay on top of where these hints lead, as it's been nearly five years since Frictional released Soma. The developers are probably quite eager to show off what they've been working on since then, though they're clearly patient enough to keep us squinting at rocks for now.