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Yes, Virginia, there is a surreal interactive drama coming

Although they both rose to prominence in the 1990s, TV dramas Twin Peaks and The X-Files are still inspiring storytellers more than twenty years on with their blend of the seemingly ordinary with the mysterious. Following in their footsteps, British developer Variable State is hard at work on a new first-person adventure game, Virginia.

Described as an "interactive drama", Virginia tells the story of a rookie FBI agent and her partner in the early 1990s as they investigate the disappearance of a young boy in the titular US state. The game seeks to put players in situations that are "relatable" and "mundane" to serve as a purposeful contrast to the strange goings-on and cast of "loners, has-beens, creeps, and beatniks" you will encounter during your time on the job. Although detailed plot elements are being kept under wraps for the moment, the developers say they hope to keep players on their toes with surreal sequences that force you to question "what is real" and make the protagonist an "unreliable observer" – familiar territory for fans of the game's sources of inspiration.

The game’s graphics will forego the photorealistic environments prevalent in other first-person games in favor of a blocky, almost plastic appearance that, appropriately enough, feels surreal when gazing upon the initial screenshots. Players will be able to move freely throughout each location using the mouse and keyboard or gamepad, but the story itself will be "unabashedly linear." Variable State hopes that a more controlled experience will enable every player to experience "the same key moments and hopefully to have a similar emotional reaction to what they're experiencing." Puzzles are being downplayed in Virginia's design in order to further strengthen the narrative and dramatic elements.

PC gamers can prime themselves to explore the mysteries of Virginia sometime in 2016. Until then, those interested in learning more can keep up to date at Variable State's official webpage.

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