Action Adventure

Nomos (Haven) [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Nomos (previously known as Haven) is a cancelled sci-fi action adventure that was in development by Coded Illusions for Xbox 360 and PS3. Not much is know about it’s settings and gameplay, but from what we gathered it looks it would have been set in some kind of alien planet threatened by a new world order regime. 

The project was started by the team in 2005, but in 2008 they had to close down because of lack of money to keep the studio alive “following the effects of the financial crisis that made it difficult to find a publisher”. Some of its former employees founded a new studio called Vertigo Games, reworking part of the ideas and 3D assets conceived for Nomos into a different game titled “Adam’s Venture”, released in 2009.

Some footage and concept art from Nomos was shared online by former developers, preserving what the team had originally in mind for their project.

“The level shown in the video is part of a bigger level known as the ‘Sanctuary’, which is an underground cave-system inhabited by a peaceful group of people who found refuge from the terror of a new world order regime.”

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Angel quest (Virtual Studio) [PS1, PC – Cancelled]

Angel Quest is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by french company Virtual Studio (Ar’Kritz the Intruder, S.T.O.R.M.) around 1996 / 1997, to be published by GT Interactive (Driver, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Critical Depth) for Playstation and PC. You could freely explore a huge (for its time) 3D world by flying around with its winged protagonist, somehow similar to a 3D Kid Icarus. You would fight against enemies in real time, helping NPCs and resolving quests as in a classic Action RPG.

As far as we know GT Interactive never officially announced this project, but thanks to Stéphane de Luca who shared some images and details on his website, we can preserve the memory of this lost game: 

“This project was the first to use optical motion capture for real time animation: we pioneered this advanced technology. The heroes was an Angel living in a very large world: he could make use of his ability to fly to speed up its move towards the next location to visit. Numerous characters were also there to help him find his way, giving him potential clues through interactive dialogs. 

Angel Quest was running on PlayStation on which I programmed the engine and the game in C and assembler. All the characters were in 3D and animated through motion capture: I developed a compression tool that reduced the data stream (curve) that was moving each node of the skeleton. The word was really huge: I had to stream all blocks silently from the CD-ROM drive as the heroes was moving: it was a big challenge due to bandwidth limitation.”

In the end Angel Quest was canned for unknown reasons. Virtual Studio later worked on other cancelled action games for PS1, such as Commando and Valerian.

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DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven [PC – Cancelled]

DK Project: The Last City Of Heaven is a cancelled adventure game that was in development around 2005 by a small French company known as DarkSkyne, composed of former Ubisoft and Eden Games employees. The game was set in a cyberpunk open-world, playable in both first and third person view. The team was trying to create something similar to a mix of GTA, Deus Ex and Mafia, featuring bio-modifications to unlock special skills to manipulate gravity, perform “bullet time” and much more. As we can read on IGN:

“DK Project: The Last City of Heaven is an open-city game set in Skyne City in the year 2030. The story is one of revenge and ambition, as a 20-year-old girl (Nina Stovakov) who has discovered the murder of her father joins the local mafia to take command of her life. You can use bio-implants to increase the capacities of the heroin, letting her jump higher, move faster, and fight with more power. The game also features multiplayer play, and runs on its own unique 3D engine.”

It was meant to have an open-ended gameplay, with a non-linear single-player campaign with multiple-paths like in Fable, Fallout or InFamous. You could behave in a good or evil way, and NPC would react differently according to your behaviour. To explore Skyne City you could steal many different vehicles, while talking to every character you may meet around to build up your own street-gang. Nina was also planned to have her own life-cycle, possibly growing old and being in need of food to stay alive. You could also buy your own house or even build it from scratch. As you can imagine, this kind of sandbox open world game was probably too ambitious for a small team.

In October 2005 DarkSkyne shared a teaser trailer for The Last City Of Heaven to show their project to potential publishers and in 2007 french press such as Jeuxvideo.com hyped up the game to their readers. The team managed to get funds and support from Nvidia and Intel, but unfortunately it was not enough to keep them alive.

In 2010 DarkSkyne closed down for liquidation, alongside Eden World Group, the holding behind DK Project. Work on The Last City Of Heaven was stopped, probably with only an early prototype completed before its cancellation. Some screenshots, videos and concept art are preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost game.

Thanks to Dean for the contribution!

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Ghostman (Widescreen Games) [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

The Ghostman is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by Kawaii Studio and Widescreen Games (mostly known for Dead to Rights II) around 2004 / 2005, planned to be released for PS2 and Xbox. The project was officially announced by Widescreen on their website, but was soon forgotten by everyone and vanished along with the team when they closed down in 2009 for bankruptcy.

The Ghostman was going to be similar to other ghost-based games, such as Murdered: Soul Suspect and Geist, using your “ghost powers” to resolve puzzles and combat your enemies. As we can read from the official fact-sheet:

“Winter in London. Nicolai Liptsky is killed by a strange mafia and becomes… a ghost. But he refuses to disappear unless he can save his family.

He discovers his new powers like possessing briefly abandoned bodies or moving objects by telekinesis. Now he travels back and forth between the world of the dead and the world of the livings.

 Half of the time you will be a ghost (able to fly, to move objects with psychic force but invisible to the living people).

The other half you will briefly come back to life by reincarnating yourself in many different bodies! Of course you will get the skills of the bodies you use.

Key features

> Explore a fascinating universe: the ghost world.

> Use your ghost powers like telekinesis, flying or pass through some walls

> Come back to life and take control of different characters (“Body jacking”)

> Choose the best strategy to live your adventure. Dead or alive: it’s your choice!”

A few screenshots and a trailer for Ghostman are preserved below, to remember its existence.

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Fall of the Artificer (Psygnosis) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Fall of the Artificer is a cancelled steampunk action adventure that was in development by Psygnosis Camden (later merged with Team Soho to form SCE London Studio) and Sony for their Playstation 2. The project was in development by the same team that previously worked on Kingsley’s Adventure, a fantasy action adventure released in 1999 for the original Playstation. In 2013 a few 3D models were found online and later Push Square asked a former developers more details on this lost game:

“I’m not sure how much I can say about the gameplay […] I’ll try and give an overview. It was a third-person action platformer with puzzle solving elements. It definitely had a steampunk feel to it, but it was also very magic-based.

I had designed a mechanical familiar for one of the main characters and based it on the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch but with legs […] I’d also designed some zombie gardeners as well.

There was a long way to go with the game’s production […] In a meeting showcasing future projects from other companies we noticed that another studio was doing something very similar and was far into production, so we called it a day.”

Thanks to another article on Retro Gamer magazine (June 2018), we know this similar game was Primal by Sony Cambridge studio:

[…] was working on Fall of the Artificer, a big-budget, high-concept, third-person action game. “It was going okay but then we visited our Cambridge studio and saw how they were getting on with Primal. […] We thought, ‘Holy shit, these guys know what they’re doing!’ That got us thinking maybe we should be doing something else.”

Unfortunately at the moment there’s not much more available on Fall of the Artificer. After the project was canned, the team worked on DropShip: United Peace Force and Eyetoy: Play.

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