When Peter Molyneux left Lionhead earlier this year to form 22Cans, it was hardly a surprise. He has always been one to thrive in the indie lifestyle: skidding by, dedicating oneself to provide the most extraordinary interactive experience possible.

In his quest to create digital masterpieces, Black & White and Fable were met strongly. But so were his doses of extreme optimism and pride, a trait now inscribed by the notorious @Molydeux twitter account. His infectious (and sometimes obnoxious) enthusiasm has carried over to his most recent project.

His latest venture, 22Cans released a free mobile title called Curiosity. Treading the definition of “video game”, players collectively pluck away tiny squares occupying layer upon layer of one cube, to uncover what lies beneath. A message which Molyneux described as “life-changingly amazing by any definition”. There is enthusiasm and there is Molyneux’s enthusiasm.

The game has generated interest especially in the media because of its legendary creator, and because his idealism makes for interesting reading. However, reading deeper, Curiosity is unlike any game ever created, truly personifying Molyneux’s views. And fans are eating it up. CVG even went so far as to have a constantly updated blog post.

What’s more is the game’s purpose. Except the mastermind himself, no one is aware of what the cube holds, and ostensibly the eagerness to know is what keeps fans pressing. Despite the vast array of possibilities, Molyneux has stated 22Cans is slated for what the studio’s name intends: 22 ongoing experiments. Curiosity could very well be a hint at that or something else entirely.

There is a catch: Even as thousands of people chip away (if they can actually connect through overcrowded servers), only the player to hit the last square sees the message. That’s right–as players plunge thousands of hours, just one lucky individual gets to bear witness to greatness. It is a remarkably cynical and cruel method to “win” the game, if winning is the correct term.

On a more practical level, Curiosity is an MMO in a mobile game. Thousands of people working together toward a common goal, except that one single person sees the fruit of their labour. Beyond the glitches (of how many walls people can view) and other technical hiccups, 22Cans’ first game is elegantly thought-provoking. If it could endure and live to Molyneux’s hyperbolic assertions, the future is mightily bright for his small indie team.

Links of various layers show many references, from random pictures to a Lewis Carroll poem from Alice in Wonderland. It’s all seemingly discombobulated nonsense, red herrings to throw off the real trail. But it plays into the mystery and mystique making Curiosity truly an undefinable experience.

Hard to find Molyneux in finer form–so, are you “playing” Curiosity?

To the readers: Are you as captivated as others seem to be of Curiosity or is Molyneux up to his old antics again?

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  • http://www.digitallydownloaded.net Matt

    I think this is brilliant stuff.

    Molyneux is a very controversial figure in the games industry, and that disappoints me. Yes his games are often difficult to get into, or even promise more than they ultimately deliver, but Molyneux is at least trying to push boundaries and experiment.

    You’d think that the legions of people who cry out for games that aren’t Call of Duty carbon copies would respect Molyneux for at least trying, but no, in one of those (many) fine “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moments, gamers like to say they want innovation or new games to play, and as soon as someone does one they respond with a “lolno.”

    I’ve played Curiosity a little and I enjoy it a lot. It’s a brain twister of a game.

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