Leap Year

Unknown 9: Awakening's universe is so much more vast than you think

Awakening is a small part of a sprawling paranormal universe focused on secret societies and the occult.

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An ambitious transmedia collection of paranormal stories several years in the making has finally paid off: During Gamescom Opening Night Live, Geoff Keighley introduced the world reveal trailer for Unknown 9: Awakening, a video game that's part of a sprawling franchise involving otherworldly science fiction and the occult.

Awakening is only a single part of a sprawling and emerging narrative "Storyworld," so what exactly is "Unknown 9" and what will this game entail? Here's everything we know, including many hints at the broader mystery at play.

What is the Unknown 9: Awakening's story?

Introduced as a next-gen adventure game during Opening Night Live in August 2020, Unknown 9: Awakening tells the story of a young Indian girl who is able to access hidden dimensions with a supernatural ability. Little else is known, but developer Reflector Entertainment does get into specifics:

"Raised on the streets of Kolkata, India and haunted by visions of her own death, Haroona struggles to understand her mysterious innate abilities to manipulate the unseen," an official summary reads. "A mentor soon helps Haroona hone her gifts, teaches her to access the mysterious hidden dimension known as The Fold and propels her on a journey to unlock the mysteries of this new realm."

Is there an Unknown 9: Awakening trailer?

This teaser trailer debuted during the Gamescom opening night presentation on August 27, 2020.

The trailer opens on a young girl — presumably Haroona — hiding something behind a brick in the wall before she's attacked by a group of other children. Just as one boy is about to strike her with a stick, she reflexively emits a ghostly shockwave from her body that seemingly phases her out of sync with reality. Everyone else around her appears like a ghost, and it allows her to essentially teleport to a standing position. She stands confident while all of the other children scatter.

Then we see an adult woman's hands remove the same brick to retrieve whatever object it was.

When is the Unknown 9: Awakening release date?

Thus far, there's no official release date for Awakening yet. It was announced specifically with PC and next-gen consoles in mind, and because we haven't seen any gameplay it, the game probably won't be released until late 2021 at the earliest.

What else is part of the Unknown 9 Storyworld?

A trailer for the comic was released the same day as the teaser for the game.

The wider Unknown 9 Storyworld began as far back as fall 2018.

During New York Comic Con 2018, Reflector hosted a launch event at the McKittrick Hotel in New York City with a theatrical occult event done in the style of Sleep No More. Inverse attended press preview for this "Unknown 9 Experience," which was equal parts simulated fright fest, escape room, and performative murder mystery party. But it also included an overview of the studio's ambitious plans for an ARG, podcast(s), comic book series, TV show, movie, and video game.

Awakening is obviously the video game, and while the TV show and movie haven't been announced just yet, Heroes creator Tim Kring was at one point attached to develop the television show within this universe. But given his work on Treadstone Season 1, it's possible that he left the project at some point in the last few years.

As for the podcasts, there's the Leap Year Society, a fictional audio story done in the style of Serial in which two women investigate a secret society that dabbles in fringe science related to breaking down interdimensional barriers. There's also Out of Sight, a brand-new podcast that launched on August 27 — the same way the game was revealed — in which partners travel the country in an RV investigating paranormal activity.

There's also Chapters, a globe-spanning interactive puzzle game where real people assume the role of "Quaestors" who help shape the ongoing narrative attached to this budding secret society.

The novel is called Genesis, and it focuses on "Andie Robertson, a young astrophysicist, who is catapulted into a global race against a dangerous organization to find an enigmatic device." The comic, Torment, was also launched on August 27: "Jaden Crowe is a magnet for mysterious things lurking in the shadows," the description reads. "His strange connection to another world makes him the focus of a secret organization—one that may hold the key to the universe haunting him."

The throughline with all of these is a sense of interdimensional sci-fi and the paranormal that's studied by some kind fo secret society called The Leap Year Society. The overarching narrative of it all remains unclear, the video game seemingly set at some point in the past may be the start of it all.

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