Mortal Kombat 12 teaser appears to blow up the timeline

What appears to be a teaser for the next Mortal Kombat game makes the most of a tiny grain of sand. Hidden at the end of one 30th Anniversary “Thank You” video message from NetherRealm Studiosdevelopers is a hint of what’s coming in Mortal Kombat 12, a game that has been announced but not officially revealed in any substantive way. It’s short, but hints at what NetherRealm plans to do with MK’s decades-old lore and complicated history.

At the end of the video released Monday, Mortal Kombat series co-creator Ed Boon says, “Thank you Mortal Kombat fans for 30 years of great support. […] We are not quite done yet.” The video then cuts to the inside of an hourglass and zooms in on a single grain of sand, which explodes dramatically.

Mortal Kombat 11 fans will recognize that hourglass as the powerful device piloted by Kronika, the Titan known as the Keeper of Time who is at the heart of that game’s time-bending story. Kronika has the power to alter time, alter the course of history, and bring people from the past into the current era of Mortal Kombat lore – this is how young Johnny Cage and older Johnny Cage meet in MK11.

Kronika’s hourglass represents the countless timelines she has created and modified in her pursuit to balance the various realms of Mortal Kombat. At the end of Mortal Kombat 11‘s story expansion Aftermath, after Kronika is defeated by Shang Tsung, Kronika’s abilities – powered by her hourglass and crown – are stolen by MK’s evil shape-shifting sorcerer. But Liu Kang pulls a time travel trick on Tsung by defeating him, taking Kronika’s abilities for himself, with plans to create a New Era of the Mortal Kombat timeline (and bring back his dead friends). Liu Kang travels back in time to train the original Kung Lao and prepare him for Mortal Kombat matches to come.

At least that happens in one of the endings Aftermath. In the other, Shang Tsung continues to triumph by defeating Liu Kang, stealing his fire and thunder god powers, and ultimately defeating Earthrealm, Outworld, and Netherrealm (with Chaosrealm and Orderrealm next on the chopping block). Shang Tsung’s plan – he’s a giant at this point, by the way – is total destruction and domination of the empire.

Liu Kang is coming Aftermath seems like the more logical canonical choice for NetherRealm Studios. If the developer plans to build a new trilogy and reset the MK timeline, having one of Kronika’s existing timelines destroyed forever seems like a good start for a new trilogy of games.

NetherRealm has plenty of space and familiar characters that can take it to a setting far into the past of the Mortal Kombat story that many players are familiar with. As Liu Kang and (The Great) Kung Lao Are Living 500 years in the past, there’s no reason why older gods like Raiden and Fujin can’t be there, or the ancestors of Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile for that matter. Millenia-old characters such as Kitana and Goro are said to exist during that period as well. Anything can happen when you have a magical hourglass.

Mortal Kombat 12 coming out sometime this year. Sure, NetherRealm plans to show it off soon.