The Ripper, The Game That Almost Was and Never Should Have Been
Rely on Horror contributor Alex Riviello recently confirmed in a Polygon exclusive that publisher EA Games was in a multi-year, multi-country, and multimillion-dollar bind over their canceled project known as The Ripper. Originally dreamt up by the early members of EA’s Visceral Games team, The Ripper was controversial from the moment it was pitched. Between 2008 and 2011, various EA Studios worked tirelessly on a game that never came to fruition. The Ripper was 95% completed, but it was ultimately deemed more cost effective to drop the title than to continue development and try to market it.
The game’s Victorian setting would have had exciting location and narrative possibilities such as the bedlam hospitals, the underground London catacombs, and the infamously dilapidated sewer systems. The game would have highlighted the increasingly polluted sky from industry, rampant public health issues, and an overwhelming disenfranchised poor populace. The details and minutiae of this game sound marvelous on paper, but the headliner of this game — Jack the Ripper — is where things began to fall apart.
Jack the Ripper, well known serial killer and butcher of women, was supposed to be the hero of a video game? In the game proper, Jack had been abused by sanitariums and asylums and been driven mentally unstable by them. I don’t know if a video game could have adequately parceled out the layers surrounding mental health and wellness in a format like this, and to imply that Jack murdered people due to mental instability is a horrific and disgusting stereotype still assigned to those with mental health issues and crises. There’s nothing glamorous or romantic about mental illness or the death and mutilation of women.
Jack was supposed to be the protagonist of this canceled game, wherein he’d fight vampires that were feeding on the denizens of London. The vampires were to correlate to the real-world victims of Jack the Ripper, and actual murder scenes were to be recreated for the game. The Ripper’s deuteragonists were to be the Freemasons that had been hunting vampires for centuries and Sir Robert Peel’s police force that would patrol the streets. The game would have had a historical who’s who of characters like Nikola Tesla who would have been your weapons person, and Frederick Abberline who led the Jack the Ripper investigations.
The Ripper eventually collapsed due to a plethora of factors such as higher priority projects, like Dead Space 2 and Dante’s Inferno. The constant pushing and pulling of ideas led to disputes within the development team. Plus, the underwhelming graphics engine could not compete with the XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3. The game’s attempts to be salvaged into an online multi-player game called Blood Dust also fell through. The Ripper’s blueprint laid the foundation for later titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the Assassin’s Creed Syndicate DLC surrounding Jack the Ripper, and The Order: 1886.
The scariest piece of news is that over 20 million dollars was spent on this project. Yikes! The fact that Jack the Ripper hero stories are still trying to be green-lit, double yikes!