With the delayed Abandoned trailer app from Blue Box Games still warming up, fans of the game and the bizarre circumstances surrounding its reveal have dug up years of incomplete projects looking for a pattern – and to some extent, they've found one.
Reddit user TicTacPaul assembled a rough timeline of various projects and announcements from Blue Box Games, often relying on tools like WayBack Machine to view dead web pages. The most important finding may be this IndieDB page for Rewind: Voices of the Past, which seems to be the first game from Blue Box. The same page is linked in the Rewind Kickstarter – which, according to its last campaign update from 2015, was cancelled after a private investor offered to fully fund development. The Kickstarter is still viewable, but this IndieDB page has been removed. It's worth noting that the first planned chapter for Rewind was titled Abandoned.
The Rewind Kickstarter mentioned a "playable teaser for the prototype version", which smacks more than a little of the app that Blue Box is preparing for Abandoned today. Evidently, Blue Box has been interested in this sort of experiential marketing for years. Ironically, the archived version of the aforementioned IndieDB page, dated March 14, 2015, notes that the Rewind "playable trailer has been delayed due to technical issues" – not unlike the technical issues apparently afflicting the Abandoned app, at least nominally.
There's also a description of what this playable trailer would have been: "a short version of the prototype version of Rewind, in where [sic] we want to give you a taste of what Rewind is. The playable trailer is a limited experience without the emotional, dramatic and cinematic elements. It is more like a teaser to warm you up for Rewind." However, on September 4, 2015, Blue Box said "the game is officially on halt".
Curiously, Blue Box's IndieDB profile still lists the announcement for Rewind, which was published ahead of its appearance on Steam Greenlight, as well as two other horror games: The Lost Tape and The Haunting.
The Lost Tape is described as the original idea for Rewind, which "used to be a first-person exploration game with lots, and lots of puzzles and an innovative way to solve puzzles and mysteries by communicating with entities using various equipment." The game's summary explains that "that old concept has been replaced with a AAA concept" and links to a removed page for Rewind.
The Haunting, meanwhile, was pitched as being "heavily inspired by the popular Japanese horror game Fatal Frame" and sought to "create the same look and feel using the camera to fight ghosts." One of the earliest teasers for The Haunting looks an awful lot like the environmental footage that makes up most of the Abandoned PS5 teaser, from the trees and right down to the mushroom:
The Haunting has since evolved into The Haunting: Blood Water Curse, which is still in early access on Steam, but development has been passed to a new studio: CreateQ Interactive.
"We wanted to make clear that Blue Box Game Studios is no longer working on The Haunting: Blood Water Curse," the new studio said in a Steam post on April 9, 2021. "We CreateQ Interactive will be finishing the game. Please bare [sic] in mind that the new game concept has not been updated yet and will be available soon!"
The Haunting: Blood Water Curse is also technically listed on the PlayStation Store, with Blue Box Games still named as its publisher, but it can't actually be played on consoles. I couldn't find a trace of CreateQ Interactive anywhere else apart from a retail firm with a similar name which is based in the Netherlands – where Blue Box is also located, as verified by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. I take it that this CreateQ has been inundated with requests from rabbit hole inquirers, hence its decision to add this disclaimer to its website:
"We are not related to CreateQ Interactive, Blue Box Game Studios, Kojima, The Haunting game, and Silent Hills."
Blue Box's history doesn't end there, either. As TicTacPaul spotted, it previously published a mobile game called The Whisperer: A Paranormal Investigation Game. This has been pulled from the app store but is viewable through the good-old WayBack Machine. Its deleted listing was last updated December 27, 2018 and mentions several elements seen in the studio's other games, most notably the same "EVP (electronic voice phenomena)" device first mentioned in the Kickstarter for Rewind, and the ability to "fight evil ghosts and demons" similar to The Haunting.
The studio is also named for the mobile JRPG Tales of the Six Swords, which sits on the far end of the tonal spectrum and was pulled from the app store. It still has a Facebook page with a support email using the same domain as the contact email currently listed on the Blue Box website. This page has been inactive since December 7, 2019. Its final post reads: "We have temporarily removed Tales of The Six Swords from the Google Play Store to prevent issues with our release version."
Just as Rewind was born from the idea that separately became The Lost Tape, it appears that Abandoned is the latest iteration of an idea that Blue Box, and its founder Hasan Kahraman specifically, has been developing for years, right down to the release of a playable trailer. This lines up with comments from Kahraman in a recent interview with Bloomberg: the developer said that the Abandoned "concept was changed a lot of times" and has been in the works since 2017. Kahraman also said that it was the Kickstarter for Rewind that first caught the attention of Sony, hence the PlayStation publicity that Abandoned has enjoyed.
The lingering air of confusion around Abandoned has allowed a range of wild theories to fester, to the point that Kahraman himself has had to repeatedly deny connections to Hideo Kojima, Silent Hill, and Konami. These rumors remain unfounded and have negatively impacted the game's development, Kahraman said.
We've reached out to Blue Box for more information on the origins of Abandoned and will update our reporting if we hear back.
Blue Box previously promised to hold a Q&A to clear all of this up once and for all. Hopefully that comes to fruition once the app is finally ship-shape.