Top 5 Cancelled Horror Games That Aren’t Silent Hills! [Video]
Finally, a new episode of the Rely on Horror show is ready for consumption! This time we take a look at horror games that didn’t make it into our hands. You can check it out here, and even follow along with my script! Fun!
Anyone keeping up with their favorite games and franchises has probably felt this heartache more than once. The excitement of learning that a new, amazing entry in your favorite series is on the horizon (or sometimes even wholly new and original I.P.s), and keeping a sharp eye out for any potential news or perhaps a leak or anything really. Perhaps it even gets far enough that you get the chance to get your hands on a demo at a trade show, or it gets released publicly. But then the crushing defeat comes, sometimes almost completely out of left field. Without warning, without ceremony, that new game suddenly meets a terrible fate. Cancelled. No longer in production, and no longer coming to a store near you.
All of us horror fans felt that pain (and continue to feel the sting as the parent company behind it slowly dismantles its legacy to the point of near meaninglessness) when the upcoming Silent Hills was canceled. It’s been the talk of the gaming community, die-hard horror fans, and even casual gamers alike, as the 9th entry in the franchise lies dead on the delivery room floor. But I want to take some time and look back at a few other horror games that shared terrible fates as well; games that, for one reason or another, had their plugs pulled and lights shut off before we even got our hands on them. Some of these did eventually lead to fully realized games of their own, but they were sharply contrasted to the original vision that was canceled.
Let’s talk about the Top 5 Cancelled Horror Games That Aren’t Silent Hills.
One of the best things about horror is how diverse it can be. It doesn’t have to conform to any sort of pre-set genre tropes or game design must-dos. The only thing that matters with a horror game is that it’s, well, scary. We’ll never know if this could have been said for Sadness, a canceled Wii-exclusive horror game that focused on psychological horror over blood and gore. There was a lot of cool concepts being floated around, talk of open-ended interactivity with the world (for instance breaking off the leg of a chair to use as a club or breaking a mirror and grabbing up the shards to cut with). The best part was the Slavic folklore inspired horror, with werewolves and witchy women.
A very intriguing live-action trailer showcased some of these ideas, showing an actress both performing the Wiimote actions, and the in-game ones. It was stark and dreary looking, with black and white visuals and a pre-WWI setting. With the Revolution’s (as it was known at the time) focus on innovating gameplay through motion, it was awesome to see a genre like horror get the same treatment. Or so it looked.
Years past, and soon it began to look as though there might not actually be an actual game behind the live-action trailer and cool sounding descriptions. Not a trailer, not a screenshot, not a shred of anything that looked like gameplay ever surfaced, and the game began to take on the new title of vaporware. Not a single word from the developers came after 2009 and that was the end of that. In the years that followed it was revealed that almost nothing had ever been done on the project, beyond the script being completed and a single 3D object, apparently a mine cart. The game was finally publically confirmed to be abandoned in 2010 by its composer, and that was that. The game had truly lived up to its namesake.
Silent Hill: Cold Heart
While I’m in love with the quiet, haunting, and thoughtful Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and have gone into quite a bit of detail on it on this show, it’s hard not to wish we’d gotten a chance to see the original concept for the game.
Far removed from the sorrowful reimagining of Harry Mason’s ordeal in Silent Hill, Cold Heart followed Jessica Chambers– an emotionally stretched and anxiety riddled college student, who becomes lost in Silent Hill after a freak snow storm caused her to crash her car on the way to visit her parents.
Designed from the ground up for the Wii, Cold Heart would have implemented a fully motion-controlled combat system, not unlike ObsCure: The Aftermath, and would have had a more robust set of the features that did manage their way into the final game. The harsh cold would affect the player, and staying out in the storm could prove your undoing. There were survival mechanics not unlike those talked about in the early stages of Resident Evil 5′s development, like trying to stay indoors as much as possible or finding warmer clothes or even fire if possible. This idea did carry over somewhat, not into Shattered Memories, but past it into Silent Hill: Downpour, as avoiding the rain was a big part of outdoor exploration.
I love the ObsCure franchise. More or less the swan song of the classic PS2 horror genre, the original game and it’s sequel were a wonderful creep fest with tons of interesting concepts, simply incredible music, and were actually rather innovative for their time- most notably creating Alan Wake’s light vs darkness mechanic nearly a decade before that game came out. The final entry in the series, ObsCure: The Aftermath, ended on a grim cliffhanger that saw more than half of the main cast killed horribly and a potentially apocalyptic third entry on the horizon.
After waiting years for anything, finally, an announcement came. The third title, called ObsCureD (or ObsCure D) was announced for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC (as well as a tie-in game for 3DS). I was pretty excited for this, as this promised to wrap up the story and bring back all of the returning survivors of the previous two games.
Sadly, the game disappeared suddenly with the shuttering of its developer, Hydravision. The story of ObsCure more or less ends here, although the franchise saw a reboot… thing called Final Exam, which is a cartoony side-scroller beat-em-up. It’s not bad by any means, we even gave it a 7.5/10, but as a huge fan of its predecessors the game is hugely disappointing given how radically different it is. While it does borrow a few characters, creatures and even the name of the school, Leafmore High, it’s about as far from ObsCure as you can get.
Wait, isn’t this where we came in? Guillermo Deltoro, legendary horror filmmaker was working with THQ to get a trilogy of hard-core horror games off the ground, starting with inSANE. There was an announcement teaser, some disturbing Lovecraftian concept art, and then… the great sadness. THQ canceled the project as the whole company went defunct in 2013. The rights are now in the hands of Deltoro but after the all too familiar cancellation of his second attempt to get into gaming, Silent Hills, who knows where it will go from here, especially after he announced just how done he was with the whole video game thing. Although he is still friends with Hideo Kojima, so you never know.
Resident Evil 3.5
Resident Evil 4 went through a tumultuous development cycle, with the longest gap in between numbered entries at the time and up to at least three separate versions were created before series creator Shinji Mikami stepped in and directed the final game that we know today. While the final Resident Evil 4 is not only one of my favorite games of all time, but also a game that pretty much shaped the face of third-person shooters and the way horror games were designed from there on out, it is a shame that we won’t ever get to see these other visions. The very first version (that we’re aware of anyway) is known as the “Castle” version and sees an older and more seasoned Leon taking the fight to Oswell Spencer, who is locked away in a massive castle in Europe. It was to bring back the Progenitor Virus from Resident Evil 0, as well as the HCF organization that Albert Wesker was working with in Code: Veronica, and possibly bring some finality to several major plot threads throughout the series. It featured Leon becoming infected with a new bacterial strain of the virus, and a frightening “Black Fog” monster that would chase him through the castle in a similar fashion as Nemesis.
This version ended up influencing Resident Evil 5 quite a bit, which did bring back Spencer, Wesker, and the origins of the P-Virus as major plot points in the game, and the Black Fog monster has clear similarities to Uroboros, the tentacled BOW that is seen throughout RE5. Leon even became infected still in the final version of Resident Evil 4, although by the newly discovered Las Plagas parasite. As a side note, this version did find new life, as it went on to be the starting grounds for another famous Capcom franchise, Devil May Cry, which was created when the game began to depart too far from horror and move more into being a fast-paced action title.
The third version of Resident Evil 3.5, known as the “zombie” version, was apparently going to keep zombies as the main threat, but was discarded for being too by the numbers, and was the last strike before Mikami stepped in. But in between the Castle and the Zombie was the Hooked Man demo, and it’s this that I’ve been wanting to talk about for the whole video.
While this version was more of a test than anything, the few short videos that we have of the demo contain some of the creepiest things in Resident Evil history. Focusing on hallucinations, presumably from Leon’s infection from the earlier Castle version, Leon battles ghostly terrors totally unlike anything in Resident Evil and settles into an atmosphere, not unlike that of what we’ve seen from Resident Evil 7. Shifting from classic camera angles (some move in a manner similar to Code: Veronica’s) while during normal gameplay to the new over-the-shoulder aiming and red laser sight of the final game, Leon wanders around a chilly and foreboding mansion, clutched by visions of haunted suits of armor (that made it into the final version of RE4 as the Plagas infested armor) and creepy cackling baby dolls that would attack Leon, as well as, finally, the Hooked Man, a terrifying apparition that would materialize out of a black mist and strike out at Leon, with no clear weak points and a menacing hook that he would lash out at Leon with.
Again, even as just a demo video, it’s a chilling experience that walks a line between Resident Evil Remake, and Fatal Frame 2. Leon’s hallucinations make it difficult to ever quite get a grip on what is real and what isn’t, and it fits in well with the atmospheric direction of the original titles. The Hooked Man is a menacing enemy and leaves a lasting impression despite basically nothing being known about him, and his model clearly being used as a Ganado later on in Resident Evil 4‘s development. It’s a fear of the unknown that I love about the older RE games that really grips me about this demo video. This video makes me petrified to think of an entire RE experience like this, battling with reality in a similar fashion to Isaac Clarke’s fugue-state trip through hell in Dead Space 2, and facing visions of nightmares that could potentially be out of this world. Resident Evil has always been an insanely grounded series when it came to its creature design. There has always been an emphasis on being able to tell what something once was, to be able to see the poor, twisted creature within. While that’s effective and relate-able, the thought of creatures potentially so alien is terrifying to me, and not only do I find it a huge shame that the Hooked Man demo never became a fully fleshed out RE game, but that of all the ideas from Resident Evil 3.5‘s various stages of development that have been taken into the fold of RE lore since, this terrifying otherworldly hallucination concept has not.
All that said, the footage we’ve seen from the upcoming Resident Evil 7 has me incredibly excited, as there is a lot of DNA from this unfinished version of RE4 in its visuals and pacing, and the appearances of ghosts has my hopes up that The Hooked Man’s concepts may be making their way back into the light.