There's nothing more devastating than being excited for a game, talking about said game with friends, perhaps even putting money aside for its future release, and then — it's cancelled. We've all felt that pain, right? Even now, hearing the title that rhymes with "Violent Thrills" is like Konami pouring salt on your wounds all over again.
And then suddenly, I realized: Hey — what ever happened to game X, Y, and Z? Why did we never get to play them, and why are they not talked about anymore? Well, we're about to find out!
1. Agartha - Cancelled in 2001
To be developed by No Cliché for the Sega Dreamcast
Ah, the Dreamcast. While its lifespan was incredibly short (just three years) it featured some unforgettable titles like Jet Set Radio and Shenmue. One of Sega's game development companies, No Cliché, developed several games for the Dreamcast, such as Toy Commander.
What most people are unaware of is that No Cliché was led by Frédérick Raynal, who designed Alone in the Dark (1992). With its success in defining the survival horror genre, Raynal ventured back down the horror path with Agartha.
During the winter of 1929 in a Romanian village that was partially destroyed by a landslide that occurred during a mysterious earthquake, a subterranean city exists called Agartha. This is where evil is being kept prisoner and is desperate to escape. Kirk, the human hero, will encounter a series of characters from villages, the living dead, fanatics from an evil sect, monsters, demons, solider monks, priests, archangels, and the Sentinel who is the ultimate personification of evil.
The press kit mentions that Kirk's morals are ambiguous and that you'd be given choices throughout the game that would shape the story. A notable feature was that Agartha would support online play. Though we don't have extensive information on the online mode, we do know that there would be team play and death match, which suggests that Agartha might have been more on par with the late Resident Evil games in terms of combat.
As you might have guessed, once discovering this title was being developed for the Dreamcast, Sega Europe discontinued production of the game system in 2001. While games that were already in development were supposed to be completed, Agartha never reached the finish line. No Cliché ceased development as per order of Sega Europe and the company crumbled shortly thereafter.
2. Redwood Falls - Cancelled in 2007
To be developed by Kuju Entertainment for Xbox 360, PS3
If you want an idea of what only four months of hard work can do for a game, take a good look at Redwood Falls. Giving us promises of being an up close and personal FPS-horror game, Redwood Falls would've featured hard-to-kill enemies that regenerate limbs and decapitations would only slow them down. That said, a bloody mess wasn't all that we were anticipating!
Aside from your usual survival horror schemes, Redwood Falls would also feature some difficult decision making, such as deciding to save one character over another. Similarly, you could talk to NPCs and even have one tag along with you as an ally — but should you trust this stranger, or are you better off alone?
The game would have also featured multiplayer which would've worked similarly to Left 4 Dead, letting you play as either the Clean-Up Squad or as the Humanoid Infected. All of these things sound like a recipe for an amazing game, so what led to Redwood Falls's demise?
The developers, Kuju Entertainment, were bought out in 2007. The new owners weren't interested in working on a new IP, so they did not spend their funds on it. Although what we see in the above images and gameplay video is quite impressive (again, this was done in only four months), it wasn't enough to make publishers confident in supporting the game. Redwood Falls was then cancelled.
3. Harker - On Hold as of April 2008
To be developed by The Collective, Inc. for Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii
Vampire games seemed to thrive in the early 2000s, with the hack-and-slash series BloodRayne and the Dracula adventure game series. And then, with what seemed like a blink of an eye, they all disappeared. This, too, is the fate of Harker. And as you may have guessed from the title, the game was based on Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Watching some gameplay footage makes it seem like it would've been a pretty bloody little game, using hack-and-slash mechanics to defeat the fanged beasts around you. Although not much else is known about the game, it's still interesting to look at what could have been. Perhaps the vampire genre will come back after the zombie genre retires — IF it retires.
Harker was going to be The Collective's tenth title, but was put on indefinite hold when the team was reassigned to work on Silent Hill: Homecoming for Konami, under their new name: Double Helix.
4. Sadness - Cancelled in February 2010
To be developed by Nibris for Nintendo Wii
When the Nintendo Wii released, it opened up new opportunities for games, thanks to their motion controllers, a.k.a. the WiiMote. For a short while, there was a pretty nice push for horror games on the system, presumably because of the potential for immersion and creative gameplay with the WiiMote. Because of this, Sadness was a game that immediately piqued the interest of horror fans!
Sadness relied on psychological horror instead of toting guns with limited ammo. In fact, the ideas behind Sadness are what drew so many people towards it! You could use your WiiMote to wield a torch and wave it around to scare away rats, or swing the controller like a lasso in order to throw a rope over a wall — both of which can be seen in the trailer above.
They also planned to include open-ended interactivity between the player and the game's objects, allowing you to use any item as a weapon. See a glass bottle? You could break it and use the shards as a knife! Additionally, the game was planned to feature a branching storyline which would change depending on the player's actions. You could receive one of ten endings! For a little 'ol game being made in 2006, these features sounded incredible!
Though, as you might imagine, skepticism started setting in. Sadness seemed to promise too much for its time. After all, we never saw the game do those things. The E3 trailer above only showed an actress doing them in front of a green screen — not in-game footage. During the four years of Sadness's development, we never received another trailer.
After missed deadlines and multiple no-shows from Nibris, the website was shut down in February of 2010. In April, N-Europe reported that one of the composers, Arkadiusz Reikowski, released some of his unfinished work to the public, and confirmed that Sadness had been abandoned.
5. Ashen Falls - On Hold as of November 19, 2015
To be developed by Lost at Sea Games for PC, and possibly consoles
A little over a year ago, I wrote a short article on a game concept brought to my attention: Ashen Falls. Since writing the first article, the Ashen Falls fanbase has grown considerably. Everyone was in love with this game concept, which brought vibes of the early Silent Hill titles. In short: Ashen Falls was looking to be the game that pleased the old-school Silent Hill fans once more.
And then, on November 19, 2015, Ashen Falls's co-creators updated us on the status of the game via its Facebook page.
Hi everyone. It's been awhile since our last update and I'm sorry to say this is not the update we wanted to share with you. We've been quietly trying to see if we could make 'Ashen Falls' happen over the last couple of months. We, Gilles and David, have also been working various contracts so we would [be] able to finance the prototype. However, we've come to a point where we have to make a huge investment of time and money to do 'Ashen Falls' right. Unfortunately we're not able to do that at the moment and it means that we have to put the development on hold. [...]
However, after personally speaking with Gilles, I can say that there is still hope for Ashen Falls's return! Gilles, being a first time indie developer, wanted to ensure that he would be able to make Ashen Falls the best that it can be. Because of this, he's decided to shift his focus on a more manageable game concept in the meantime. Hopefully we'll hear more about the new project soon!