We’ve all felt it before – that crushing disappointment when a gaming project we looked forward to is silently cancelled and abandoned. Most recently, this disappointment was felt with the cancellation of Scalebound, an ambitious and absolutely gorgeous-looking RPG, but video games have a long history of crushing cancellations.
Sometimes, games are recycled into new and more exciting forms, but other times all we’re left with is a lingering sense of loss, and a whole heap of wasted potential. From the death of the Fable franchise to brilliant game concepts that never quite got off the ground, join us as we explore the most disappointing cancellations in video games history.
Scalebound had it all – a cool concept, neat combat and enemies, gorgeous level design, and dragon riding. Dragon riding. Microsoft Studios cancelled a game where you were drift compatible with a dragon. Gameplay that was shown looked sleek and neat, with character design and a combat system that drew parallels to Devil May Cry. Looking back, the game is also strangely reminiscent of Final Fantasy XV, with a similar open world and fighting mechanisms. While details on the cancellation are scarce, many put it down to issues with the game’s engine, as well as long delays within the development team. Presumably scheduled for release some time this year, Scalebound looked to be a console seller for the Xbox One, which has struggled in the exclusive games market. Platinum Games had spent a good four years developing the title, with several promising gameplay reveals showing off the scope and ambition of the game. It’s unfortunate that it seems to have collapsed under the weight of its own expectation.
Fallout: Van Buren
The Fallout series has a long and turgid history with cancelled games, in part due to the long list of developers that have handled it, but also as a result of corporate meddling. Van Buren was seemingly a victim of the latter, with financial reasons, a desertion by the majority of the developers, and a company directive to move more towards console games halting production. Initially planned as Fallout 3, a sequel to the original turn-based series, Van Buren would have used a similar top-down style and mechanics. The game would have begun with your character, a prisoner, being freed from a jail cell and making their way out into the desert of the American southwest pursued by robots. A tech demo of the game was leaked in 2003, and featured stylish combat and visuals in the vein of the original game. Several story elements and themes were recycled for use in Bethesda’s Fallout: New Vegas, but fans of the original games will always lament the loss of Van Buren, which looked to be another brilliant entry in the original franchise. While we did eventually get Fallout 3, it was a completely new title developed by Bethesda after Interplay sold the rights to the franchise, and the new first-person style turned many fans away.
Another recent cancellation that still stings is Kojima Production’s Silent Hills. The initial teaser for the game, P.T. showcased an absolutely terrifying glimpse into what would have been a haunting and horrifying experience – so much so that I avoided the teaser like the plague and can only rely on the tales regaled to me by others. The teaser was praised for its brilliant atmosphere and the complexity and depth of the story, building anticipation for any news of its future release. Taking place in a haunted house, the teaser gave your unseen protagonist little defence against the malevolent ghost that stalked you as you explored a suburban home. Featuring a variety of puzzles that affected your surroundings, your goal was to escape the looping corridor. Unfortunately, despite a few teasers to the contrary, the only significant news that fans received was the cancellation of the game. It’s generally agreed that this disappointment came about due to disagreements with Hideo Kojima and Konami, with the company cancelling the game, and stating it would continue the Silent Hill franchise without Kojima’s input. All in all, it was a messy affair, but it did lead to the development of the weird-looking Death Stranding, which can hopefully replicate the magic of P.T.
The original Darkwatch: Curse of the West was a brilliant first person shooter released in the early days of the Playstation 2. With a unique visual style, interesting characters, and a brilliant mix of the western and horror genres, Darkwatch stood out among its peers. Taking inspiration from Halo, Half-Life and Metroid, and featuring a half-vampire gunslinger named Jericho, Darkwatch was a property with huge potential. With the success of the original, High Moon Studios soon began development of a sequel, the first in a series that would take place across different time periods, such as Ancient Rome and the Crusades. Footage of the sequel does exist, featuring similar mechanics to the original, but with updated graphics and stability designed for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The demo is wonderfully haunting with a beautiful score and an appropriately pants-shitting jump scare, but it only serves as a frustrating teaser for the wasted potential of the franchise. While a film project was in development as recently as 2011, like most other video game films, it was stuck in development hell and very little has been heard from the project since. After the cancellation of Darkwatch 2, High Moon moved on from the franchise, developing Deadpool and working on Destiny in partnership with Bungie.
MediEvil 3: Fate’s Arrow
The inclusion of this potential MediEvil sequel may prove somewhat controversial, largely because nobody is sure it ever really existed. Rumours of another entry into the franchise have abounded for quite some time, encouraged by hearsay and a supposedly leaked tech demo for a Playstation 4 entry that turned out to be a rather well made fan project. Recently, a more intriguing rumour has surfaced, and if it’s to be believed, a third entry to the series was planned and cancelled after the initial pitch failed to impress. The game, in development for the Playstation 2, would have followed on from MediEvil 2, and seen the dashing Sir Daniel Fortesque travel back in time to the Battle of Gallowmere after he learns that the world’s timeline has been changed. Kiya, the undead Egyptian princess from MediEvil 2 would have executed a dastardly heel turn, aligning herself with villain Zarok in order to raise an army of zombie soldiers.
Accompanied by a faithful hound, Dan would be tasked with traversing a wider, more open world in order to steal the Anubis Stone and restore his timeline. This game would also have seen the return of the Hall of Heroes from the first game, as well as new weapons and intriguing puzzles. Currently, the only remaining evidence that this game ever existed is a piece of concept art featuring Dan riding an ancient dinosaur accompanied by his hound. The loss of MediEvil 3 has been put down to bad timing, with the PSP becoming the core focus of the company, which was growing rapidly in prestige. Instead of the proposed Fate’s Arrow, fans of the franchise got MediEvil: Resurrection, a largely soulless, vapid and disappointing retelling of the first game. The franchise has been dead in the water since.
Join us next time as we delve further into the history of cancelled games and discover more hidden gems that never saw the light of day. What cancelled games are you most disappointed about? Join the conversation @theirisgames or on our Facebook!