We’ve not heard much about Ninja Theory’s “mental terror” experience Project: Mara since its unveiling early last year, but now the Hellblade and Enslaved studio has offered a fresh glimpse, focussing on Mara’s meticulously rendered environments, as part of its latest developer video.
Previously, Ninja Theory described Project: Mara as an “experimental title that explores new ways of storytelling” built around a “real-world and grounded representation of mental terror”. Using “real lived experience accounts and in-depth research”, its aim is to recreate the “horrors of the mind as accurately and realistically as possible.”
Now, in its new developer video, Ninja Theory’s creative director Tameem Antoniades has detailed some of the processes the studio is adopting in order to capture that sense of realism for Project: Mara, and to deliver an experience that “doesn’t feel like a game and doesn’t feel like a movie [but is] something altogether different”.
Antoniades says the studio is “attempting to do lots of things that [it’s] never attempted before”, most notably in its efforts to “capture reality obsessively”. More specifically, the art team is focussed on recreating Project: Mara’s environments – based on an actual real-world apartment – as perfectly as possible, capturing its materials, scanning its geometry, and creating procedural tools to construct Ninja Theory’s “most ambitious and realistic game setting ever”.
This work, according to Antoniades, marks a shift for the developer in the way it creates art. “Artists are not there to just create an object,” he says, “they’re there to create systems that can create that object and infinite variations of that object.” It’s an approach that is “laying the foundation for all of our projects across the studio and all of our future projects”.
There’s plenty of footage comparing Project: Mara’s digital apartment with its real-world counterpart in the studio’s latest video, should you be interested in seeing the end results.
Project: Mara, which still remains something of an enigma beyond its initial teaser trailer and today’s update, is just one of several projects known to be in development at the Microsoft-owned Ninja Theory. Others include The Insight Project (described as an “ambitious combination of technology, game design, and clinical neuroscience brought together with the aim of generating strategies to alleviate mental distress”) and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2.