'Calendula' wants to be a weird mix of 'Twin Peaks' and 'PT'

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'Calendula' wants to be a weird mix of 'Twin Peaks' and 'PT'

Why would anyone play a game that doesn't want to be played? It's a question with an answer, though it may be buried within the spastic, terrifying scenes of Calendula, the game in development at Blooming Buds, a small studio in Madrid, Spain. Developers describe Calendula as a game with roots in experimental art and classic horror, taking inspiration from famed thriller TV series Twin Peaks and PT, Hideo Kojima's spooky demo for the PlayStation 4. Designer Aleix Garrido says that Calendula aims to break classic video game conventions and the fourth wall in one weird blow. It all begins with a question posed by Calendula itself: How do you play a game that doesn't want to be played?

Gallery: Calendula | 10 Photos

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So far, here's what we know about Calendula's gameplay: It has some kind of narrative and a vast variety of mechanics. Also, it looks super trippy. That's about it.

"In the end, the combination of all the elements is what builds Calendula's uncanny atmosphere," he says. "The game is full of symbolism and abstractions that will help players figure out what has really happened. We want every player to find their own meaning."

Garrido is aware of the challenge inherent in marketing a mysterious, nebulous game that might not be a game at all. Blooming Buds does describe it as a video game, but also as an "experience" and "your deepest secret." The teaser trailer is intriguing, but it does little to explain how Calendula actually plays. And this is just how Garrido likes it.

"We want mystery to become one of our marketing points," he says. "It can be risky nowadays with the huge amount of great games out there, but we think that this mystery fits within the kind of game that we present."

Despite the mystery (or perhaps because of it), Calendula is gaining traction via word of mouth, mainly from fellow developers who have played it at conventions. Steve Gaynor, co-founder of Gone Home studio Fullbright, recommended Calendula to video game fans on Twitter this week, and Rami Ismail, one half of Nuclear Throne studio Vlambeer, similarly described his 15 minutes with the game as "pretty damn intense."

Calendula is due to blow your mind -- or so Blooming Buds hopes -- in 2016.

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