Failbetter Games today announced it is working on two new projects, one of which is a prequel to the studio's Fallen London universe. Mask of the Rose is a visual novel, though that descriptor perhaps risks pigeonholing expectations a little. You could fairly describe Fallen London as a text adventure, after all, but it's so cleverly executed that it feels like a disservice.
The broswer-based Fallen London celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year (and got a visual overhaul to celebrate), and is the setting behind the excellent Sunless Seas and Sunless Skies. The elevator pitch is that London has been taken over by bats. Like, really nasty bats. The magic of all these games is in the writing and how crackers the stories become as you make plans and choices that, without exception in my case, unravel through a mix of pratfalls and cosmic horror.
Failbetter's previous success with the Kickstarter model means it'll be launching a campaign for Mask of the Rose in February next year. Creative director Emily Short sets the scene thusly: "Mask of the Rose follows the lodgers in a boarding house a few months after Victorian London has been transported underground. There’s no sunlight. Not all of your new neighbours are human. Parliament is underwater, and the mysterious Masters of the Bazaar are now in charge."
The trailer suggests much criss-crossing of London and a multitude of connections, and one would expect anything but a linear experience from this studio. The title Mask of the Rose pays homage to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, a mystery filled with murder, conspiracy and vast secret chambers. Which lines up rather nicely with the Fallen London vibe. Unless it's a Yu-Gi-Oh tribute of course.
There are no details on the second game. "We can’t tell you much about the other game yet, but we can say that its game mechanics are very different from our past work, and that it takes place in a new setting," said CEO Adam Myers.
Finally Failbetter announced it has submitted the console versions of Sunless Skies Sovereign Edition for certification: "We don’t know exactly how long it will take, and it’s common for certification to throw up a few issues, but this puts us in striking distance of a release!" The studio has previously made clear that the PC and console versions share code, and would be released at around the same time.
PC Gamer Newsletter
Sign up to get the best content of the week, and great gaming deals, as picked by the editors.
Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."