Like other Ukrainian developers, Sherlock Holmes studio Frogwares was affected by the ongoing Russian invasion of the country—effectively making it impossibly to continue working. Fortunately, a “MegaGrant” from Epic Games helped the studio soften the financial blow and move staff out of active warzones.
All that said, Frogwares today announced it was completely pivoting to a brand new project—and only partially out of sheer stubborn spite.
“We are revealing the game now in this way to simply show people we are pushing on and also as a clear middle finger to those who thought they could just roll into our country hoping to disrupt and ruin our lives,” communications officer Sergey Oganesyan wrote in a press release.
Currently named Project Palianytsia, the new game is described as a mix of eldritch horror coupled with Victorian-era mystery, very much in the vein of The Sinking City. The release came with four pieces of concept art, showing off a library, a storm-wracked lighthouse, a creepy swamp hut and a fog-shrouded English manor.
Palianytsia sounds like it’ll be more limited in scope than Frogwares’ recent releases—though, as Oganesyan notes, that’s a harsh reality of development during wartime, where continuing to create games of the scale it was used to would be a tough ask.
“Do we go ahead with a large scope project and risk disruption, have less room for R&D and innovation, less access to your highly skilled staff, and have smaller pre-production and development of specific tools? Or perhaps we can be smarter about this, and create a project with an easier turnaround and a tighter scope—but still ambitious, packed with quality, and with great storytelling and mystery behind it. This way, we can not only make a new game, but do so while supporting those fighting.”
According to Oganesyan, the name Palianytsia was chosen both because of its place in Ukraine’s national cuisine (Palianytsia being a form of hearth-baked bread), but also as a kind of fuck you to Russians, who apparently have a hard time pronouncing it.
“It’s the equivalent of phonetical Dark Souls for Russians who often can’t pronounce it correctly when trying to pass off as Ukrainian. And so now it’s often used in the field as a test to quickly identify possible affiliation of unknown individuals.”
Frogwares plans to make a formal announcement in the near future.