missing.jpgOK, all you Majestic fans. It looks like someone has finally stepped up to the plate and given the “game that plays you” genre another shot. French developer Lexis Numerique and The Adventure Company have released Missing: Since January (formerly released in Europe as “Memoriam”).

MSJ is the story of a journalist who is investigating a series of murders, which are being committed by a serial-killer known as The Phoenix. When he and his girlfriend suddenly disappear, a disturbing CD shows up at his publisher’s office. Not knowing what to do, they enlist the public’s help in finding out what happened.

Interactivity in the game reaches out and touches you in a way that, while quite common in grassroots ARGs, is a first for a mainstream published game. Many emails to ingame characters are handled by real people, and responded to in a realistic way, as opposed to autoresponders. As time goes on, players attract the attention of both the authorities and The Phoenix himself. This, according to GameSpy, is where “the line between reality and a game gets disturbingly thin.”

There are web-based puzzles to be solved, many of which are very ARG-like. For instance, trying to find the password to get into the journalist’s FTP site. His girlfriend has a blog that provides many clues into his background. Sound familiar?

It’s great to see a game like this being released. The developer says that they’ve been at work for over a year building the game and the websites that are part of it. While not a strict Alternate Reality Game, Missing: Since January looks like it has all the makings of something ARG-fans might really enjoy.