A couple years ago, a cryptic website appeared with a countdown clock and a veiled reference to some new project from famed game director Shinji Mikami. It wasn't immediately clear what in the world was going on, but later that year, Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax Media announced a partnership with Mikami's new studio, Tango Gameworks.
Now, it seems Tango's first project, "Zwei," will see Mikami returning to the videogame genre he helped to establish.
It's hard to imagine now, but the survival-horror genre was essentially non-existent prior to 1996. The game that defined the term, Resident Evil, was the product of a team of designers at Capcom. Obviously, the game went on to massive critical and commercial success, solidifying director Shinji Mikami's name within the emerging genre.
Mikami would continue to produce and supervise further Resident Evil sequels until 2005, when he took the helm as director again for Resident Evil 4. Though there were technically more than three games in the series prior to its development, Resident Evil 4 would once again set the standard for the survival-horror genre. Moreover, the game would heavily influence third-person shooters – in regards to the game's camera, in particular – for years after.
In the years following Resident Evil 4, Mikami moved through a couple new studios, including the now dissolved Clover, before landing at Platinum Games. There, he directed another game highly influential for its mechanics, Vanquish. But even with those other achievements, Mikami hasn't directed a true survival-horror game since 2005 – until now.
According to a press release from Bethesda Softworks last night, Tango Gameworks' first project is code-named Zwei. Despite a rather strange name – which will surely change – the exciting news is Mikami is returning to his survival-horror roots.
"A true 'survival horror' game is one in which the player confronts and overcomes fear," said Mikami. "I've found my focus and once again I'm striving for pure survival horror. I am being very hands-on in the development of this game to ensure that the quality is there. Rest assured."
I'm totally resting assured, over here. Well, until some evil mutant dog comes crashing through a window, anyway. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of detail about the newly announced game as of yet, but the studio has released a collage of creepy concept art (above).
I'm wondering how far along the game is in development, considering Bethesda acquired Tango almost two years ago. Either way, this is a big deal for genre fans, and a big step for Bethesda Softworks' portfolio. The closest thing to survival-horror Bethesda has published is probably Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Having Mikami on board certainly awards credibility.