A teaser campaign for Sony Japan's new title Panopticon has counted down to a mysterious trailer for the upcoming game, though few details are known still. Sony Japan began its countdown a week ago, though in fact it was more of a "count-up", with the clock ticking away to a "1,000,000 years"; that looks to be a repeated theme in the game itself, with floating augmented-reality clocks hovering above each character's head.
Beyond that, the plot is somewhat cryptic. There's what looks to be a surveillance-obsessed society, patrolled by ominous cops in trenchcoats and virtual reality headsets, and the birth of what could end up being the savior of society.
Interspersed with all that are dragons and androids having sword, missile, and projectile-energy battles, on the streets of what looks to be both Japan and London. Cue explosions, huge guns, and uplifting, yearning music.
The word "Panopticon" is Greek for "observe all", but it's also the name of a controversial prison design that dates back to late 18th-century England. Intended as an institution that would use the fear and uncertainty of observation just as much as it relied upon locks and cells to maintain order, the Panopticon arrayed stacks of rooms arrayed in a circle around a central "inspection house" where the warden and guards would be based.
From that center point, the prison staff would be able to see into every cell whenever they chose, with no privacy for inmates. Designer Jeremy Bentham described a series of blinds and other arrangements by which the staff would be masked from view, leaving inmates uncertain on who was being watched and when.
The principle of observation certainly seems to fit in with the surveillance-state themes that appear to be laced throughout the Panopticon game trailer, though we'll have to wait a little longer to find out more. Sony Japan says the next dribble of information will come on May 21.
Sony Japan Panopticon trailer: