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Among the Sleep's developer returns with a game about office boredom

Norwegian studio teases its secretive new project

With its next game, Norwegian developer Krillbite Studio is tackling a genre unlike that of its horror hit Among the Sleep. Where its predecessor focused on childhood trauma, Mosaic, a point-and-click adventure game planned for a 2017 release, will instead focus on the blandness and alienation of adulthood.

"It's about being a small piece in this big machinery that you don't feel anything for," artist Bjørnar Frøyse told us when we spoke during Game Developers Conference 2016.

Players control an office worker, going through the motions of his routine, day-to-day life. It's a narrative that the studio thinks will be familiar to those who play Mosaic, and one which CEO Jon Cato Lorentzen boiled down to telling of "urban isolation."

As for how that storyline plays out, the studio stayed mostly mum.

"You start to feel like you don't fit in," community and marketing head Kristina Halverson continued. "Then, one day, these strange things start happening."

That was the most the team offered about the specifics of the game. The screens below suggest that theme, thanks to Frøyse's melancholic artwork. A short teaser the team showed us also hinted at the oddities that unfurl over the course of the Windows PC game.

The development team remained highly secretive about what Mosaic will entail — offering a sense of mystery that, according to Krillbite, the game itself shares.

"In the game, we're going to try to embrace the same sense of curiosity," Lorentzen said. "Stuff is happening, but stuff isn't always explained."

Despite the secrecy, the developer obliged to contrast the game with its previous work. Shifting away from the horror genre that won the team acclaim with Among the Sleep in 2014 was a deliberate move; even with only two completed games on their docket, Krillbite doesn't want to be pigeonholed.

This is in spite of the fact that, according to the team, fans wrote in following Among the Sleep's release begging for a follow-up. Yet Mosaic began life as a breather from the protracted development period of that earlier game, which took the young studio four years to complete. A combination of a desire to challenge itself and find relief from the emotional horror game led to Mosaic becoming the studio's next project.

"If we made another horror-type [game], then people would expect that," Lorentzen said. "If you specialize in a genre, then people start getting expectations.

"I hope people will respect us for this, [saying,] 'Wow, they're doing something entirely different."

How different, exactly, Mosaic will be from Among the Sleep remains to be seen. The team did offer that the game will offer about three hours of play, telling a story that players will question more and more throughout. While the narrative will tell one complete story, the team is working on a "secret section" that it hopes will offer its own sense of replayability.

That narrative — whatever it truly entails — is what is most important to Krillbite, not just with Mosaic but all of its projects.

"Games don't have to be a kind of escapism," Frøyse said. "They can leave you with something more than that."

More will be revealed up until the release of Mosaic next year. For now, the studio is happy to tempt its fans with the screens below.

The next level of puzzles.

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