Ninja Theory announced today that it is working on Project: Mara, an “experimental title and a showcase of what could become a new storytelling medium” that will be a “real-world and grounded representation of mental terror.”
The studio made the announcement on Microsoft’s own site, Xbox Wire. The Xbox company bought the developer in 2018. Before that, Ninja Theory made its name creating action games featuring motion-captured actors, like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
Since then, Ninja Theory has gotten busy. It’s first Microsoft-owned game, Bleeding Edge, is a team-based multiplayer action game that is releasing in March. The studio is also working on a sequel to Hellblade. Microsoft bought Ninja Theory to help it create more exclusive content not just for Xbox but for Game Pass, its popular subscription service.
Mental health played a big part in Hellblade, with its hero suffering from psychosis. It’s handling for the issue drew it praise from many critics and players, and helped the title win the Games for Impact trophy at the 2017 Game Awards.
So further exploration of mental illness by Ninja Theory isn’t too surprising, although it is a bit off-putting to see the company use the promise of “mental terror” to promote a project. But the studio has maybe earned some slack with its well-thought handling of the issue before. Last year, Ninja Theory also announced The Insight Project, and “ambitious combination of technology, game design and clinical neuroscience brought together with the aim of generating strategies to alleviate mental distress.”