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Crime News Serial Killers

'This Is The Zodiac Speaking': New Video Game To Take On Story Of Unsolved Killings

The game's developers told Oxygen.com that they were inspired by David Fincher's "Zodiac" and the Netflix series "Mindhunter" in crafting a noir-style gaming experience.

By Connor Mannion
Zodiac Video Game 1

There have been many adaptations that cast a creative eye on the still-unsolved Zodiac killings, but a video game studio is now seeking to bring one to the digital world with "This Is The Zodiac Speaking."

The game was developed by Punch Punk Games, an independent studio in Warsaw, Poland, and markets itself as "a dark, fact-based single player FPP (first-person perspective) adventure thriller combining stealth & detective modes in an stylized world of California 1970s," the game's Steam page states.

The game's developers said they drew inspiration from various film and television adaptations about both the Zodiac Killer and serial killers in general, naming both the David Fincher film "Zodiac" and the Netflix series "Mindhunter" as direct inspirations.

Players will take the role of fictional San Francisco journalist Robert Hartnell, who is drawn into the case after receiving a taunting phone call from the Zodiac.

Zodiac Video Game 2

The game aims to depict "murderers, detectives and journalists in depth, showing their human side as well, making them more multidimensional," Krzysztof Grudzinski, head of Punch Punk Games, told Oxygen.com.

"Zodiac's a legend, the letters, the specific language he used when contacting people, the ciphers, but also the excuse to tell that story from a different angle. Zodiac is a myth that I wanted to face," Grudzinski said.

The game's visual design is more abstract, as opposed to employing photorealism, with developers explaining it was to make the game more "modern" and "noir" by rendering the game like a sketch or painting.

"We've chosen the stylized aesthetics because that was our artistic aim, we wanted it to be modern and in noir style and mood at the same time thanks to that graphic style," Grudzinski told Oxygen.com.

The developers hope that the inherent interactivity of video games will give people a richer way to experience the Zodiac story, more so than through a film or book adaptation.

"Games are interactions, telling the stories through what you discover on your way. We're not giving away facts easily. We want them to be discovered. What is more, is there any other medium that allows you to really feel fear or stand face to face with a killer. Games, thanks to their interactivity, allow [players] to experience the story stronger than in other medium, if that's what you want," Grudzinski told Oxygen.com.

"This Is The Zodiac Speaking" will be available on Sept. 24 for digital download. The developers told Oxygen.com that final work on the game is progressing well even amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down much of normal life. 

The game is in the final stages of development and the pandemic hasn't impacted developers' day-to-day schedules, Grudzinski told Oxygen.com.