Cancelled Gems of the twenty-tens

Written by Culture, Gaming

It’s been a long and transformative decade for gaming. Our writers welcome the New Year with wistful memories of games that never saw the light of day.

Half Life 2: Episode 3

In 1998, players entered the incredible world of Half-Life and they battled aliens in the tight corridors of the Black Mesa Research Facility in a groundbreaking and revolutionary FPS. Its sequel, which launched in 2004, was no different, as it broke the mould once more and furthered the genre to new heights; Half-Life: Alyx is set to do the same for VR, but what happened to the plans for the episodic Half-Life entries?

The first debuted in 2006 and the second in 2007 and both were given very high scores of 9 and 10. They were beloved, and the latter ended on a cliffhanger, leaving fans to itch for more – it was a smart move to keep people pulling out their wallets every year for Half-Life content. However, it was cut in its stride and the third instalment never saw the light of day.

Gabe used vague language and spoke in code until eventually, Episode 3 dropped out of Valve’s discourse entirely. However, it resurfaced more recently as a joke which was unbelievably insulting to fans who had been eagerly awaiting that promised conclusion. But, after over a decade of nothing, the lead writer, Mark Laidlaw, bid farewell and departed the company.

As he left, he unveiled the story following that loose end and we discovered that Alyx and Gordon had ventured on a suicide mission. They launched the Borealis into the Combine’s hub, only for it to not even leave a scratch. Alyx was whisped away by the G-Man and Gordon by the Vortigaunts. It was a satisfying conclusion that has led to multiple fan teams working on bringing Laidlaw’s vision to life.

Episode 3 may be dead for Valve (or maybe not, who knows what the future will hold following Alyx?), but the unbelievably dedicated fanbase is keeping the torch lit.

James Troughton

Star Wars: 1313

Originally announced at E3 in 2012, Star Wars 1313 was designed to bridge the career of Boba Fett between Attack of the Clones and Empire Strikes Back as he navigates the seedy, criminal underworld of Coruscant: Level 1313. Although Star Wars: The Clone Wars filled in some gaps of Boba Fett’s rise, a whole game spent with the notorious bounty hunter would have been a treat for any Star Wars fan.

Before the game could get further in development, Disney acquisitioned the franchise and shelved all projects in development at LucasArts. Despite this, a demo for the game has leaked online and can be easily accessed on YouTube. From the 6 minutes of footage alone, Star Wars 1313 boasts clean graphics and a suitably grimy tone that encapsulated a more niche area of fascination in the Star Wars universe.

From the 6 minutes of footage alone, Star Wars 1313 boasts clean graphics and a suitably grimy tone

The loss of the game was made even more tragic by a subsequent drought of action-adventure single-player RPGs in the Star Wars franchise, with initially disappointing Battlefront games from EA only satisfying a multiplayer itch.

The game was last acknowledged by Kathleen Kennedy in an interview with /FILM in 2015 whereby she stated that she though the concept art was “unbelievable” and that they may “very well develop [Star Wars 1313] further.” Nearly five years later, the chances of this seem increasingly slim but the recent successes of The Mandalorian and the single-player Jedi: Fallen Order could propel Star Wars 1313 into the new decade as the perfect composite of these wins.

Peter Lennon

Doom 4

If all had gone to plan then the 2016 edition of Doom would have been very different. What ended up as reboot of the series was initially intended to be the fourth game in this legendary first-person shooter franchise. While the reboot itself received much critical acclaim, fans were left wondering what could have been.

The game that would have been Doom 4 was first announced back in 2007. Three years had passed since the release of Doom 3 and the games production studio, id Software, promised a return to the gameplay Doom and Doom II, while also utilising new upgrades to the games id Tech 4 engine.

This version of the game was envisioned as much more narrative and dialogue focused, with more emphasis on the use of cinematic cut-scenes

From interviews with id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead, we learned that it would take place on a post-apocalyptic Earth. This version of the game was envisioned as much more narrative and dialogue focused, with more emphasis on the use of cinematic cut-scenes.

id put the project on hold in 2009 while the team focused on completing Rage. Sadly, disagreements about the project’s intended gameplay and creative influences meant that it was put on hold in 2011. Between 2011-2014 various efforts were made to bring the project back into development, but to no avail. The decision was made in early 2014 to scrap Doom 4 entirely and to reboot the series instead. The end result was the 2016 award-winning Doom. In the end, not a bad trade-off.

Joe Holloran

Final Fantasy: Project W

Final Fantasy has never had its main series developed by a studio outside of Japan, but did you know that Eidos Montreal developing what would have become Final Fantasy XV?

This story was broken by YouTube games journalist George Weidman back in April 2018, when he revealed several anonymous, though well supported, rumours of the game’s development. Eidos Montreal studio head David Anfossi was given Square Enix’s blessing to begin the early stages of development on the first western Final Fantasy, codenamed Project W. This was developed for a year before being cancelled unceremoniously by Square Enix higher-ups, frustrating much of the Eidos team.

Eidos’ Project W appears to have predicted much of what made No Man’s Sky so distinct

The game had an art style themed around fractals, the concept art of which looked like nothing else in 2011 and 2012, when the game was in development. The scope of the game was astronomical, with the game world featuring dozens of planets to visit and explore. Seamless planetary landings topped all this off, this appears to have predicted much of what made No Man’s Sky so distinct. 

Alex Darbyshire

Silent Hills

Twenty years ago, the first Silent Hill game published by Konami came out on PlayStation; and in 2015, the last title of the franchise as we know it, the Playable Teaser (P.T.) of Silent Hills, had been taken off the PlayStation Network permanently following the cancellation of the game.

The last thing we heard about Silent Hill came in the form of a Pachinko machine.

It was a long two years after Silent Hill: Downpour’s release before P.T.’s surprise reveal at the 2014 Gamescom. While Downpour wasn’t a fan favorite, the promises shown in Hideo Kojima’s P.T. revitalized hope in the future of the franchise.

P.T. was in all aspects the comeback of the horror genre – it built dread in a manner that was reminiscent of earlier Silent Hill games, and the switch to first-person from the classic third with fixed camera angles tailored a more personal Silent Hill experience.  It had been downloaded over a million times and received various critical acclaims by the time it was removed.

Konami’s withholding of the IP makes us think that it is unlikely for someone to take Silent Hill over yet…

With the release of Kojima’s Death Stranding, it’s made clear that the project isn’t in the same veins as the Silent Hill series.  Konami’s withholding of the IP makes us think that it is unlikely for someone to take Silent Hill over yet, as we’ve seen with Paradox Interactive acquiring Vampire: The Masquerade. However, P.T. did leave its mark on the genre and had since inspired many indie originals.  We can only hope that someone out there with a heart for the series can create another Silent Hill inspired experience.

Celina Chow

Last modified: 22nd February 2020

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