Down the rabbithole of Alfa-Arkiv

A new iOS game seems to be reviving the five-year-old Junko Junsui ARG that had apparently vanished from the web.

alfa.jpg
Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

Nearly five years ago, a mysterious series of videos emerged: about a project to genetically modify humans; about a strange, mother-oriented religious sect called The Sisterhood of the Pure; and "live feeds" of a girl called Rhea, captive in a cell, held by private Russian military organisation Alfa-Tsentre. It lasted just a short while before disappearing, leaving its followers bewildered.

It may, however, have returned, with the arrival of iPad game Alfa-Arkiv. On the surface, it seems to be a game about uncovering the chain of events that resulted in a young woman named Rhea Aliveya, part of a terrorist organisation known as the Liberation Army of Dagestan, being held in a cell by a Russian military organisation.

It's actually pretty fascinating to read through the files, but it seems large parts of the game take place... elsewhere. So far, we have visited a couple of pages on a Wikileaks website, a page that seems to have been appended to the Russian Ministry of Justice's official website, the KGB Belarus official homepage, and the official web page for Alfa-Tsentr (which turned up an error on Whois). We also (perhaps unwisely, we can't tell) installed a Chrome extension and found a Facebook page supporting the Sisterhood.

To be honest, we're not entirely sure what it is we're doing. The integration of in-game and out-of-game content is so seamless, and whoever made it has been putting it together for such a long time, we're almost not entirely sure it's a game at all.

If it is a game, it's masterfully done, delivering a sublime mix of heebie-jeebies and supreme curiosity to find out more. If it's not, please send help.

About the author

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

 

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