A week ago, most people didn’t know that Abandoned was an upcoming indie horror game for the PS5, nor that it was being made by Dutch developer Blue Box Game Studios. Now both are at the heart of gaming’s latest conspiracy theory that Metal Gear designer Hideo Kojima is secretly involved and Abandoned is actually a new Silent Hill. There’s just one small hitch: Blue Box Games keeps saying none of it is true.
The hype train started pulling out of the station on June 15, when Blue Box wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “Guess the name: Abandoned = (First letter S, Last letter L). Reveal closing in... #PS5 #Exclusive.” Since the letters seemed to match up, Silent Hill fans started getting excited about the possibility of an impending announcement. While a social media guessing game is an unusual way to kick off the return of a big franchise, in this case, there was arguably some precedent for it.
Back in 2014, a demo for a mysterious horror game called P.T. was released on the PlayStation Network. While the game appeared to be a high-gloss project, it was made by a company nobody knew. When players completed the demo, it revealed that P.T. was an elaborate announcement that Kojima and film director Guillermo del Toro were working on a new Silent Hill game together. That project, along with Kojima’s relationship with Silent Hill owners Konami ended up falling apart—but the fandom around Kojima and his fake-outs has only increased.
Since then, hope has not died out. The Blue Box situation sparked a post that blew up on the Gaming Leaks and Rumors subreddit that collected all sorts of so-called data points proving Silent Hills was not dead. These ranged from noting that Konami shop was teasing new Silent Hill merchandise, to weird coincidences involving Abandoned’s game director, Hasan Kahraman. Fans latched on to Kojima tweets like this book recommendation one from June 9, where he included the words “Silent” and “Hill.”
The list of clues, while tenuous, continued to mount. Fans also found an Instagram post where Kojima appeared to be holding up a blue box. Did you know that at 0:49 in Abandoned’s April teaser trailer the letters P and T are graffitied onto some rocks? All of these, fans reasoned, must be a part of an elaborate marketing campaign for Kojima’s next game.
Why did this particular conspiracy build up steam so quickly? Rumors about a new Silent Hill have been floating around for some time. Back in February VGC reported that “Konami has already outsourced a Silent Hill project to a prominent Japanese developer, with a reveal due this summer.” Kojima himself also has a track record for pulling weird shit like this. One time, he manufactured a fake trailer and game company for a game called The Phantom Pain only to later reveal it was a teaser for Metal Gear Solid 5. It didn’t hurt that Abandoned’s April teaser shared a lot in common with P.T.’s hyper-realistic and super eerie aesthetic.
Abandoned-is-actually-Kojima’s-new-Silent-Hill theory might have petered out had Blue Box not continued playing up the speculation with its social media posts. “Company fact: BLUE doesn’t refer to the color, it refers to something else. Can you guess it?” the studio tweeted out on June 17.
Soon, the rumors started grabbing the attention of prominent games media figures, and the added exposure was like a dump truck of kerosene dropped onto a bonfire. Game Awards host and very public Kojima pal Geoff Keighley started talking about Abandoned on Twitter, too. Given that Keighley was a part of Kojima’s previous ARG scheme, it seemed plausible that he might have been roped into it again.
“Hasan has been really eager I think to share more with you in the coming months so stay tuned to my twitter,” Keighley wrote on Twitter. “I think there is more to share on that game soon and we’ll all find out together.”
He then followed up on the remarks with a brief but cryptic post that asked people to manage their expectations.
“I honestly don’t think this is what you guys think it is,” Keighley wrote. Naturally this did nothing to set expectations. “Confirmed, it’s Siren Hill!” responded another ResetEra poster.
Bloomberg reporter and former Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier also weighed in on the burgeoning drama. “I’m just catching up on the Abandoned/Hideo Kojima/Silent Hill ARG conspiracy and it is truly incredible,” he wrote. “I personally couldn’t care less about Silent Hill but I sure do hope this is real.”
While Schreier started out bullish on the rumors, which gave fans even more faith in their possible validity, he later started poking holes in some theories. Blue Box had a history of failed Kickstarter campaigns going back years, he noted, making it seem that much less likely that it was truly a front for Kojima’s latest unannounced game. “[A]fter several hours going down the rabbit hole I am no longer 100% convinced it’s Kojima (could very well be someone crafting all these coincidences to build buzz),” he wrote on Twitter.
Things took another weird turn when Blue Box finally delivered the answer to its riddle about the hidden meaning of its studio name. “The correct answer is: BEST LEVEL USER EXPERIENCE,” the studio wrote on June 18. “It stands for unique gameplay interactions with unparallel user experiences.”
Depending on who you ask, this either made it clear that the studio was just bullshitting around to build hype for its low-budget horror game, or it was just more evidence that Kojima was involved. The kicker is that Blue Box itself told everyone Kojima was not involved in the project as far back as April 2021. Circumstantial evidence, like the potential shop tease, turned out to be a bust as well.
Some fans still want to believe of course, their faith now resting on a delayed trailer for the game that the developer has teased on Twitter. The ad seems to be tied to a downloadable app of some sort.
“Due to localization issues we had to delay it,” Blue Box wrote over the weekend. “Apologies for this. Launching friday the 25th!”
Why an entire app just to watch an ad? Who knows. “The app will kick off with an introduction to get you introduced with it’s purpose and how to use the app,” Blue Box wrote.
Even if a new trailer does drop on Friday, it still might not convince everyone that Abandoned is not in fact Kojima’s next big mind-fuck. Believing otherwise is too much fun for some people. It’s certainly more entertaining than what Blue Box has currently shown of Abandoned.
Update - 9:30 a.m. ET, 6/22/2021: Game director Hasan Kahraman put out a new video on Twitter last night once again distancing he and his project from Kojima and Silent Hill.
“I just wanted to do a really quick video to show myself that I am a real person and I’m not really associated with Hideo Kojima, I’m not an actor, I’m not working on Silent Hill,” he says in the video. A longer Q&A about Abandoned is planned for sometime in the future.
Correction: Blue Box Games Studios is based in The Netherlands, not Denmark.