News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Cleric (Plutonium Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Cleric is a cancelled game that was in development for PC by Texas based studio Plutonium Games, and from what we have found, this could have been a quite unique and interesting project. It was a First Person Survival Horror (game) mixed with puzzle elements, action and role playing.

There were plans to release it around the month of December in 2003 but that didn’t happen. On April 14 in 2004  it was announced it was put on indefinite hiatus or cancelled altogether according to a post on the main website of Plutonium Games. There were hints that they had difficulties finding a publisher for their game:

“After a long trip, it looks as if Cleric may not be made for a long time to come, if ever. I want to thank everyone that has supported us over the years. This site will remain up as will the forums. I have recently (3 months ago) taken a job with another studio (Destineer Studios) as a 3D Artist on their tactical shooter project “Close Combat – Marines: First to Fight“. Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road, I’ll get the opportunity to start Plutonium Games back up again. Until then, I’ll be building up my portfolio & experience with Destineer. Thanks again for all the great support!”

The website isn’t up anymore, and no more information can be found about Plutonium Games anywhere on the internet, so we assume the company no longer exists.

As for more information pertaining to how the game would have turned out, here’s a brief story and design summary. Cleric’s story is set in 16th century Russia and the dead are walking again. Women are disappearing and it is up to Reverend Father Aronos Schuler (the main character of the game) to investigate this mystery and to put an end to the plight of the undead. What was interesting is regardless of his position, he was meant to be a character of little faith and the story would have developed around the mystery of the undead of course but also of the Reverend’s internal struggles. Multiple path scenarios were considered with multiple endings as well depending on the player’s actions throughout the game.

Players would have had 2 different holy symbols to use for their main weapons. These would have given a series of different abilities like flying, sensing danger, re-animating the dead, healing and summoning, to list a few. Some traditional weapons like swords, maces and old muskets would have also been weapons the Reverend could find during his travels. Fore more story and gameplay details, you can check an old Gamespot preview and their image gallery.

Judging from the video, you can tell the focus wasn’t exactly just about shooting since the musket would need reloading after every shot. You have a symbol that repels the undead used like a holy cross and if held long enough, they start to catch fire. It seems the mission was to escort a woman to a shelter whilst protecting her from the undead. Later in the video the reverend approaches a statue and acquires a miracle power that lets him summon lightning to strike the undead!

Lastly, for the last bit of information we have for Cleric, there’s a very interesting interview with CEO/Lead Designer Matthew Doyle of Plutonium Games.

If Cleric had not been cancelled, we believe it could have been remembered as quite the cult classic of its time.

Article by Alex Bérubé

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Contra Online [PS2, Xbox, PC – Cancelled]

After the cancellation of Castlevania: Resurrection and the death of the Dreamcast, the same team at Konami of America pitched a few other projects for different consoles. One of these unrealized games was a new 3D Contra with online multiplayer, planned to be developed for PS2, Xbox and PC.

They wanted to have classic single player and local coop story mode for old-school fans of the series, but at the same time testing online multiplayer for the first time.

Some details about this lost Contra game were found by fans, and preserved below to remember the existence of this cancelled concept.

“Contra’s HQ have intercepted SOS from the biggest Russian nuclear submarine that is sinking to the bottom of Barents Sea. While Contra’s HQ continues monitoring the unsuccessful rescue attempts, suddenly the submarine crews stop responding to the Russian Northern Fleet hails. Meanwhile, Contra’s spy satellite registers the beginning of nuclear missiles launch form the sub, and transmission to Russian Navy operations that Red Falcon is demanding to stop the rescue attempt otherwise there are will be a missile strike retaliation. After analyzing the spy satellite data, Contra intelligence realizes that Red Falcon is preparing its third attempt to conquer Earth by using Russian submarine as its base to assemble and power it’s robotic war machines in the safety of deep sea.

Members of Contra Forces are called in and ordered to stop the Red Falcon, and were successful in defeating evil alien entity and its forces. Or, at least they thought so. The “Red Falcon” had actually been merely wounded. It escapes the submarine blast to a secret retreat located in the mountains of Bosnia. Were alien forces lie dormant aviating for decoy Barents Sea invasion to begin, so they can start a real attack of the Earth forces? The Contra intelligence is learning that Red Falcon is not the brains behind an operation but just a pawn controlled by a mysteries alien only know as “Dark Queen”. Contra marines are called again for the final showdown.”

Story mode would have been divided into 3 worlds (Submarine, Mountain Trail and Underground Base): each one with several levels and Bosses. Past Contra protagonists could have been unlocked during the game, to be used as playable characters.

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The team planned many different modes for online multiplayer. An idea was to have online coop up to 4 players, split in 2 teams that would fight through different missions before meeting again to kill the boss together. Online Versus mode was also planned, set in a virtual-reality world similar to VR missions in Metal Gear Solid. This could have been a third person or first person shooter, depending on the best prototype they could work on.

As this was only an early pitch they were still thinking about the best Konami IP to use for their first online game. If Contra could have been a risky series (because of its hardcore fans), other possibilities were open such as using the Project Overkill IP instead.

In the end disagreements between Konami of Japan and Konami America killed the american team. Many of their latest games were canned, such as Survivor: Day One for Nintendo 64.

Big Brother (George Orwell’s 1984 Video Game) [PC – Cancelled]

Big Brother is a cancelled point and click adventure game based on the book 1984 by George Orwell. The project was in development by Media X around 1998, planned to be released on PC. We only know about this lost game thanks to a preview published in Next Generation magazine (Issue 48) in December 1998, but we cannot find anything else on Media X online: they seems vanished forever with no trace.

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In the original preview we can read:

“LucasArts’ Hal Barwood has made  the excellent point before that unless adventure games stay on the cusp of technology, they are doomed as a genre. Enter Media X. The company’s goal is nothing short  of redefining the traditional adventure game.

To that end, the company has discarded the 2D point-and-click interface  that has dominated the genre since the death of infocom. In its place is a realtime  3D engine and a combination of inventory, slider, and Mario-style environment puzzles. To reduce player confusion – a  common problem for anyone who has played Myst or its descendants – text messages (for instance, “You unlock the steam vent”) appear on the screen at  appropriate times.

Initially disconcerting, these  messages quickly blend in and enable  players to concentrate on the game without wondering what they are  supposed to be doing. That’s good because the game should be exceptionally difficult on its own.

Set in  George Orwell’s 1984 universe, players  must rescue their fiancee from the Thought Police. It’s a simple goal, but one  that requires traversing 12 levels and solving hundreds of puzzles (there were originally 60 levels, but since early play testing indicates that each level takes about five hours, the number was culled).

Graphically, the game should be very  impressive. Media X has created an original first-person 3D engine for the  game, and, notably, the textures are very, very high-resolution, with little or no blurry filtering noticeable (the game will  require a 3D card to run), even when directly against objects. The art direction is equally good: The plot is slightly different from that of 1984, with a corrupt  regime that’s crumbling even more than in the book. The disintegration has carried over well – think crumbling brick buildings and steam vents.

Sales of adventure games (and  publisher support for them) is down, but  if ambitious projects like Big Brother and  GT’s Wheel of Time manage to become hits, this genre could quickly pick up  momentum. Based on early looks. Big Brother has a better chance to help the flailing genre than anything else we’ve  seen in years.”

Sounds promising? Maybe it could have been..

If you know someone who worked at Media X and could help us to preserve something more on their lost game, please let us know!

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Terraria: Otherworld [Cancelled]

In 2011 Re-Logic (an indie software house founded by Andrew Spinks) released Terraria, a 2D sandbox adventure set in a world made by blocks and biomes. The game let players to freely explore theirs worlds, dig tunnels, build buildings, crafting objects and fighting enemies.. basically it was Minecraft in 2D!

In 2015 Re-Logic and Engine Software announced they were working on a spin-off called Terraria: Otherworld, set in an alternate reality of the same universe. From the trailer we can see gameplay was similar to the original Terraria, but with new mechanics and a different graphic-style.

The game would have new items, dresses, furnitures, places and enemies, such as the Crystal Archer. Terraria: Otherworld’s developers tried to keep players’ freedom intact following a non-linear story. They retook the theme of fighting against the Corruption, but it would have been stronger than in the main game and could even corrupt other biomes such as dirt and snow. Players would have been able to build special towers to purify the lands, but these towers could be attacked by dangerous creatures and buildings had to be protected.

Their plan was to introduce more RPG and Tower Defense elements into the game, allowing players to build a defense system based on turrets and automatic weapons. They also wanted to add a level-up system for weapons, a quests system and new NPC telling the world lore.

Terraria: Otherworld was in development for 3 years before being cancelled. At first Re-Logic wanted to publish the game in 2016, but it was postponed and in 2017 Engine Software abandoned the project for unknown reasons.

Development was taken by Pipeworks, an internal team of Digital Bros Entertainment, but in 2018 Terraria: Otherworld was officially cancelled with an announce by Re-Logic. Apparently the team had a “clear vision for this game”, but they were not able to implement it into a fun game.

Article by Gin

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Naughty Dog’s Lost Sci-Fi Game (Savage Starlight?) [PS3 – Cancelled]

Today Naughty Dog is mostly loved for their modern-world adventures, such as the Uncharted and The Last of Us Series, but during the PS2 generation they were mostly known for their Fantasy Sci-Fi series: Jak and Daxter. It’s easy to see how they would have considered another futuristic project when they moved development to the Playstation 3 and while a Jack & Daxter 4 was pitched, they also planned a different, more mature Sci-Fi adventure

This cancelled untitled Sci-Fi game was revealed by them in their “Naughty Dog’s 30th Anniversaryart book (you can buy it on Amazon UK, Amazon USA or Amazon IT) with a few details

“We explored the idea of doing a science fiction game following the Jak and Daxter franchise, complete with androids, robots, and futuristic weapons. The sci-fi game was going to be centered around a city that had been built up around a giant hole in the ground. No one knew exactly what created the hole, but the adventure would have the player exploring the depths.”

In the end Naughty Dog worked on Uncharted instead and it became such a huge success to shape up their following projects and sequels. There are some rumors about a possible resurrection of their Sci-Fi concept, thanks to an interview by Gamecrate with Naughty Dog game director Bruce Straley:

“Yeah, I’m not gonna drop hints to what it is, because who knows, it might actually happen. There’s one image in there that’s still in the back of my mind that I’d like to make a game out of. There’s one image. I’m just letting you know that it’s very possible. There’s still a story, there’s some great game ideas, there’s a lot of really cool stuff in the thing, like I think it’d be really cool to see if Naughty Dog could do this game. I don’t think anybody else could do this game like Naughty Dog could do this game. It’s one image.”

Some people relate this lost Sci-Fi pitch with another Sci-Fi story titled “Savage Starlight”, a fictional comic book series that Naughty Dog put into The Last of Us as collectible items. While the name “Savage Starlight” is mostly used by fans to indicate ND’s future, possible science-fiction game, it seems the plot of the comics is quite different from what is know of their cancelled PS3 project

“Set in the year 2186, the plot of Savage Starlight centers around Dr. Daniela Star’s adventures in space. She discovers a method of traveling faster than light via a jump drive, and soon finds that a group of hostile extraterrestrial known as the Travelers are threatening mankind. “

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