Games and Hitchcock belong together, I reckon. This should probably not be that surprising. Hitchcock is the epitome of the commercial director – his movies are all solid box office. And yet he’s also so inventive. Each film often seems like an attempt to explore a distinct structural or formal problem of some kind. Single-shot movies? Rope! Kill off the main character early on? Psycho! (Sorry if that counts as a spoiler.)
What I love about Hitchcock is that he’s sort of a designer as much as a director. And of course this being Hollywood, I mean that he worked as a designer along with his writers and camera people and actors and all that jazz. Anyway. Hitchcock. Games. Yes pls.
What happy news, then, that The Flower Collectors is coming out soon, and headed for Steam. The Flower Collectors is Rear Window – can you film a thriller that takes place largely in a single room, with a hero in a wheelchair? – but transported to Barcelona in 1977. A potent setting. Franco is dead and Spain’s first free elections since the civil war are about to take place. Jorge is a retired policeman who’s trying to unravel a mystery – with the help of an acquaintance – while he sits in his wheelchair in his apartment.
It’s a perfect game-sized premise. I spent a bit of time with a build earlier this week and had a wonderful hour or so moving around Jorge’s stylised but still beautifully detailed apartment, marveling over the parquet flooring and fighting my envy of the mid-century furniture. Oh, and there’s a game too. I was playing the very start of the game, I think, pre-mystery, so I was interacting with bits and bobs, eventually settling down with a sketchbook to draw a couple of human scenes that I could spot from my balcony.
This is where it starts to get a little creepy. The game gives you a handful of scenes to find and record, and I was looking around with my binoculars, picking off targets, and I eventually realised that some of the people I would be looking for weren’t outside sat at sidewalk cafes, but were actually indoors in their own homes and visible only through the windows. Combine this with the increasingly troubling remarks you get from Jorge and The Flower Collectors is set to be something that’s thrillingly queasy to play.
Where it goes from here I cannot fully imagine. But I cannot wait to play more. This is a game, I think, about the boundary between curiosity and voyeurism, a game steeped in details and a sense of a specific time and place. And it’s a game about Hitchcock too. I’m in.