The writing of William S. Burroughs and the films of David Lynch aren't the kinds of influences you'd expect for a video game, but that's part of what makes Tangiers feel so unique. "When I haven't been working in retail it's been going home, reading Naked Lunch, putting Throbbing Gristle on play, and generally spending most of my time with the influences of Tangiers," says Alex Harvey, from developer Andalusian, who recently quit his day job to work on the game full time. "The natural step was putting them together in my own little output." The result of that confluence of art is an experience that, while still in development, is shaping up to be a dark and disturbing take on stealth games.
It's here that you'll do your hunting
You play as a mysterious "outsider" exploring a strange, disconnected world searching for five other creatures. When you find them, you must kill them. The world is essentially divided into two types of areas: There's a bleak and largely empty open world that you'll explore looking for smaller, city-like locations. And it's here that you'll do your hunting. When you reach those smaller areas, Harvey says the gameplay is heavily inspired by Thief, forcing you to sneak around without getting noticed. "It's all very much hiding in the shadows, exploring the internal environment, and manipulating and proceeding through hostile surroundings," he says.
Through its art and narrative Tangiers presents a sense of a disjointed reality, and the locations you'll be exploring add to this as they will change based on your actions. As an example, Harvey describes one scene, set around a lighthouse. If things don't go smoothly, and you're spotted and forced to kill a few enemies, that lighthouse will eventually show up again in a scene later on in the game. "And depending on the magnitude of your interactions in the other place," says Harvey, "that lighthouse will be at a greater slant, so that the light is now disrupting a shadow on the ground, and having a greater impact on the gameplay." He also describes other instances where your actions in one scene could result in a canal overflowing later on, flooding parts of the level.
These features combined with Tangiers' non-gaming influences and creepy art style have turned the game into something that's been difficult to explain clearly. And that problem has only been exacerbated during Andalusian's Kickstarter campaign to fund development. "It's been quite hard" to communicate what Tangiers is all about, admits Harvey, though the team has still managed to surpass its relatively modest £35,000 goal (nearly $55,000). Tangiers has been in development for around eight months, and the goal is to launch in the middle of next year. And that's good news for fans of classic stealth games. "There's a lot of the abstractions on top," says Harvey, "but it's going to be very much, at its heart, going back to that 1998-type of experience."