CD Projekt Red, developer of the RPG masterpiece The Witcher 3 and the barely functional after a year of patches Cyberpunk 2077, published plans for its next Witcher and Cyberpunk games on October 4. It’s no surprise that CDPR intends to keep making games in franchises that rake in millions of dollars each year, but what is surprising is the project descriptions on its massive schedule.
As part of what the studio calls its Group Strategy Update, CDPR announced five games in the Witcher universe, a Cyberpunk 2077 sequel, and the launch of a brand-new series. According to CDPR, it hopes to complete a new Witcher trilogy in no more than six years while also developing two spin-offs. CDPR says one of those games, codenamed Sirius, is “set in The Witcher universe” but that it will very different from the series so far. Sirius will be developed by a Boston-based studio called The Molasses Flood, which CDPR acquired in 2021.
Who is The Molasses Flood?
One of the most pressing questions for Witcher fans now, after “how much are the developers going to have to crunch to get any of this done on time?” is “who exactly is The Molasses Flood?”
Based in Boston, The Molasses Flood was founded in 2014 by developers who previously worked on games like BioShock and Halo 2. Between then and its 2021 acquisition, The Molasses Flood released two survival games: The Flame and the Flood and Drake Hollow. Neither is a household name, but they’re both tremendously well-made games bursting with personality, and they’ve each gained a cult following.
The Flame and the Flood is a roguelike adventure set in a post-collapse America. Accompanied by your faithful pup and an excellent alt-country soundtrack, you travel by river through the ruins, trying to survive the hostile environment and the even more hostile predators therein. Drake Hollow is also a survival game, but one with base building, optional multiplayer, and an equally great score. Both games are deeply atmospheric and take place across fascinating procedurally generated worlds.
In its Group Strategy Update, CDPR said Sirius will “differ from our past productions, offering multiplayer gameplay on top of a single-player experience.” Job listings for level designers active at The Molasses Flood at the time of writing also specify the role will include designing procedurally generated levels. Given the studio’s history of making multiplayer games with procedurally generated landscapes, it seems likely The Molasses Flood is working on something similar to its previous games, but on a grander scale.
What could The Molasses Flood do with Sirius?
Next to nothing about Sirius is confirmed at this point — even the name is just a placeholder. But looking back at The Molasses Flood’s earlier games and CDPR’s own words, we can start to form a decent picture of what might be in store. For all their similarities, The Flame in the Flood and Drake Hollow feel radically different to play, pointing in two possible directions for Sirius.
The Flame in the Flood feels like the more obvious model for Sirius to follow. It’s a game about a lone adventurer going on a journey through a wildly dangerous world, which sounds a lot like a typical Witcher’s job description. Replace The Flame in the Flood’s ravenous wolves with drowners and leshens, and you’ve already got a pretty great-sounding game.
What’s more likely, though, is that Sirius could take that framework and build a bigger narrative experience around it. Another key part of Witcher games is interactions with the villagers who hire Witchers and the larger political forces of the world. A survival game like Flame in the Flood but with the ability to take on jobs (perhaps also procedurally generated) from commonfolk is a compelling idea, even without the extra features likely to be added for a game of this scale.
Witchers tend to work alone, but The Flame in the Flood’s dog companion could take the form of a monster-slaying ally. We know Sirius will include multiplayer, so it’s possible you could be a member of a particular Witcher school, with either an AI or human teammate from the same school accompanying you.
The base building of Drake Hollow feels even less like The Witcher, but Sirius could incorporate it in some interesting ways. Instead of wandering the open road like most Witchers, perhaps you could settle down to fortify an important town against monsters. Going with the idea of playing a whole Witcher school, you could even build and defend the School of the Wolf fortress at Kaer Morhen, or a similar base for another school.
We don’t necessarily know that Sirius will have a larger scope than The Molasses Flood’s previous work, but it seems a fair assumption with CDPR’s history. Considering that, it seems possible the upcoming game will blend these ideas together. You could be tasked with defending a central location while making treks into the wilderness to gather supplies and recruit survivors to join the encampment.
If it wasn’t entirely clear already, this is all wild speculation. While CDPR has a habit of promising too much too early in development, it’s not sharing anything concrete about Sirius yet. But as a developer with money to burn, CDPR is in a position to take some big swings on The Witcher in coming years. This wouldn’t be the first time, either. No one would have expected a narrative-driven puzzle RPG based on a Witcher universe card game before Thronebreaker was announced, and that experiment turned out extravagantly well. With a team of entirely new voices behind it, Sirius could chart a totally different course for The Witcher, making it one of CDPR’s most exciting projects yet.