by Joseph Leray
What do Salvador Dalí and “Thief: The Dark Project” have in common? For one, they’re both name-dropped — no, name-suplexed — as inspirations for “Tangiers,” an abstract, surrealist stealth game by neophyte indie designers Alex Harvey and Michael Wright.
Harvey and Wright’s two-man team is officially known as “Andalusian.” If you took freshman-year Film Studies 101 or just really love that one Pixies song, you might catch the reference to Un Chien Andalou, Dalí’s nonsensical 1929 silent movie. The very first scene is a graphic depiction of a woman’s eye being sliced open by a razor, which should clue you in on the territory Andalusian wants to cover in “Tangiers”: dark, unnerving, fragmentary, and twisted.
“Tangiers” is an sandbox game about stealth and manipulation. You play as some lanky, scuttling, spider-humanoid tasked with locating, hunting, and eliminating five different people. The catch: it’s not clear which five people are marked, and the world of “Tangiers” rearranges itself as you play, depending on what you do and where you do it — buildings disappear, replaced by floating rivers or vast expanses of frozen desert.
Andalusian promises that each “Tangiers” playthrough will be different as the game procedurally reacts to your choices and actions.
To get after your five marks, you’ll also eavesdrop on characters’ conversations, collect their words, and use them to solve puzzles or clear a shadowy path. “Gather the intimate words of an illicit conversation and use them to unveil secrets, hidden pockets within the city,” reads the Kickstarter pitch. “Turn them into reality – a character mentions ’rats’ and you can turn his words into a devouring swarm of them.”
Given the absolutely out-there literary influences cited by Andalusian — William S. Burroughs and J. G. Ballard were particularly harrowing authors — they’re playing it pretty safe with their Kickstarter planning. They didn’t launch the funding campaign until the core mechanics were nailed down, and they refuse to discuss stretch goals until they hit their roughly $54,000 goal.
In any case, “Tangiers”’ Kickstarter page offers a wealth of information about the game’s development and design and is worth poking around. If Andalusian hit their funding goal in the next three weeks, “Tangiers” will be available for Mac, Linux, and Windows next year.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter