We don’t have many details about this cancelled fighting game: it was never officially announced and only some concept art remain preserved in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost game. We can assume that it would have been played more like a traditional fighting game than a Super Smash Bros clone, with high-school protagonists using weapons and special powers. In the end they never found a publisher interested in this project and it was quietly cancelled.
Then SuperBot had to work on “CuddleFish Friends”, an edutainment game for kids published in late 2013 for iOS and Android. Unfortunately this was not enough to keep them alive and soon the company had to close down.
Black Death is a cancelled FPS / Survival Horror game somehow similar to Condemned and Dead Island, in development by Darkworks around 2011. Darkworks was an independent French studio not widely known by the average gamer, but they released a couple of fan favorite games as Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Playstation, Dreamcast and PC) and Cold Fear (PS2, PC and Xbox). Black Death was announced in June 2011, as the team tried to get attention from publishers to find money and resources to fully develop their idea. This was the last project they tried to pitch before closing down after a series of unfortunate failed projects, such as their Onechanbara reboot, State of Crisis and The Deep.
After Ubisoft took away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to complete it under Ubisoft Shanghai, the team worked on many different prototypes. We can assume at the time the team tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (such as Black Death) with interesting / original features.
Some more details about Black Death were published in the (now removed) official website:
What is Black Death? Black Death is a new survival horror from Darkworks. Black Death is the personification of the fear generated by the recent pandemics and the mistrust which has been associated to their supposed origins (natural apocalypse, scientific, industrial, or military ones… or else… ). Our goal with Black Death is to go one step further by focusing the game on three essential elements: speed, fluidity and freedom of action, to offer the player a sensation of freedom and the possibility to create his own arsenal.
Pitch: Today, The American North East coast, a city is suddenly hit by a massive cloud of smoke. Mysterious swirls of this black smoke appear and infect everybody. This new disease is spreading all over the city making it a place full of sick people sunk into a comatose state. As they mutate into strange creatures with various powers and group behaviours, they start to become violent and invade the whole city. The player is a survivor who will try to stay alive and wipe out this scourge from the city.
Gameplay Experience: THE FOG PLAYS WITH YOU, PLAY WITH THE FOG Survive in the fog Be Creative: Create your own chemical weapons and test them on your enemies Cure or kill infected you meet and choose your fighting strategy Spectacular: Have fun discovering a unique bestiary, and experiment with multiple weapons and devices Fight: Fast action, it’s difficult to kill, you must finish on contact Control the fog Discover the black death evolution
A playable demo / prototype for Black Death was also released in July 2011, but it failed to gain much interest from gamers and publishers. With no more money to keep working on their projects, in October 2011 the studio was placed into Compulsory liquidation and was closed. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games, while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to different developers. There are already a good number of interesting lost Darkworks games in the Unseen64 archive, but many more still remain unseen and even if we tried multiple times to get in contact with people that worked at the studio, it seems almost impossible to know more about what happened to them or to their cancelled games.
Death Monsters is a cancelled horror beat ’em up in development by french studio Birdies Road (formerly Punchers Impact) around 2010 / 2011 for Xbox 360 and PS3. Not many details are available on this lost project: it was quietly announced in early 2011 on some French websites but was soon canned after a playable prototype was completed. The main protagonist could transform himself into a werewolf and levels would have been played as in a side-scrolling game, fighting enemies (zombies, monsters), resolving simple puzzles and jumping around to avoid traps.
Unfortunately it seems their publishers (Mindscape) did not pay the team for a few months, and without money Birdies Road had to close down for bankruptcy in July 2011. Death Monsters was then cancelled and lost forever. Only a few screenshots, artworks and videos from the prototype are preserved below, to remember its existence.
Dogfish Entertainment was a rather obscure studio established in October 2000, created by former employees of Bullfrog Productions (Syndicate Wars, Dungeon Keeper 2, Dark Omen). The team worked on many different prototypes, trying to pitch their ideas to publishers. One of these concepts was for a survival horror game titled “Horrorville“, which around 2001 could have been green-lighted by Sony as a first-party game, along with another game titled “Dinosaur Zoo“. Unfortunately we don’t have any more detail about these cancelled projects. In 2002 Sony decided to cut their collaboration with Dogfish and the company had to close down. Horrorville and all their other prototypes were lost forever.
Only a single image (of what we assume could have been Horrorville’s female protagonist) is preserved below, to remember the existence of this unreleased game. If you know someone who worked at Dogfish Entertainment, please let us know!
The Sandman is a cancelled third person shooter / action game once in development at Silicon Knights around 2009. While the game was never officially announced by the company and we don’t have any details about its story and gameplay, by looking and the remaining concept art preserved in the gallery below we can speculate the main character was somehow able to control some kind of “dark matter”. This power would form different objects and demons around the protagonist, with an effect similar to sand flying around him. This is probably the reason for the “Sandman” name and as far as we know the game was not related to the omonimous Vertigo comic in any way.
The world found out about this lost game because of some old resumes, leaked concept art and a disastrous legal case. As we can read on Wikipedia:
“On May 2012 Epic Games defeated Silicon Knights‘ lawsuit (opened in July 2007) and won its counter-suit for $4.45 million on grounds of copyright infringement. Silicon Knights was directed by the court to destroy all game code derived from Unreal Engine 3 and to permit Epic Games access to the company’s servers and other devices to ensure these items have been removed. In addition, the studio was instructed to recall and destroy all unsold retail copies of games built with Unreal Engine 3 code, including Too Human, X-Men Destiny, The Sandman, The Box / Ritualyst, and Siren in the Maelstrom.”
Some more details on the fall of Silicon Knights were published on Kotaku in October 2012. On May 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights filed for bankruptcy. As far as we know, every The Sandman file had to be deleted, so it could already have been lost forever. As Epic Games had access to Silicon Knights’ server, someone may have saved parts of their cancelled games. We can only hope one day someone may be able to share more screenshots, footage or details from these projects.
If you know someone who worked on The Sandman and may help us to save something more from the game, please let us know.