Action Adventure

Siren in the Maelstrom (Silicon Knights) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Siren in the Maelstrom is a cancelled fantasy adventure that was in development by Silicon Knights in the late ‘00s, but never officially announced. The title of this lost project was leaked online in different ways, when Canada Telefilm (an organization that lists projects approved for government grants) announced they would invest into Silicon Knights for their new game “Siren in the Maelstrom”. As we predicted at the time, unfortunately the game was never released.

Siren in the Maelstrom was again mentioned in a disastrous legal case between Epic Games and Silicon Knights. 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.”

Maelstrom (maelström; [ˈmeɪlstɹəm])  is a north-european word used to indicate powerful water whirlpool, produced by opposing currents or a current running into an obstacle. Many of these maelstroms are located near the Norwegian coast and knowing Silicon Knights’ history with the Norse mythology, many fans speculated Siren in the Maelstrom would also have been set in Vikings folklore.

Unfortunately the team never showed any official screenshot from the game, but some concept art is preserved in this page, to remember the existence of this lost project.

In May 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights closed their office and filed for bankruptcy. As far as we know, files related to Siren in the Maelstrom 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 could be able to share more screenshots, footage or details from these projects.

If you know someone who worked at Silicon Knights on Siren in the Maelstrom and may help us to save something more from the game, please let us know.

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Indiana Jones Trilogy (The Collective) [Cancelled – Xbox, PS2]

A cancelled Indiana Jones video game based on the original trilogy was in development around 2003 – 2004 by The Collective (who also worked on the cancelled Executives / Career Criminal for Midway), after releasing “Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb”.

In 2008 a former developer shared some details about this canned project on CG Society:

“So… this image is 5 years old, low poly realtime model created for a project that could have been. No photos were used in the creation of the textures and the render was not retouched.

This was done at Collective Studios, now known as Double Helix, sometime after Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb shipped. Hoping to work on another game, we did some R & D for a possible sequel. New, polished character models were created and the Indiana Jones model completely redone.

There was an amazing prototype that was up and running with updated gameplay, but unfortunately this project never happened. Probably could have been the greatest Indy game ever. Unfortunately due to things out of the hands of the studio and surprisingly, even the publisher, nothing came about.”

In 2012 a show reel that contained footage of this canned Indiana Jones game was found online (and then taken down, but the video was preserved by Indiana Jones Brasil) showing Indy and Satipo maneuvering through environments similar to that of Raiders of the Lost Ark, with gameplay elements similar to Emperor’s Tomb. (This demo reel also contained footage of the project known as Prince of Persia: Assassins).

In 2010 now-vanished gaming website 1UP also published some information:

“Six or seven years back, I won’t say who I was working for, but we were working on an Indiana Jones trilogy game based on the first three movies,” says Rex Dickson, lead single-player level designer at Kaos Studios (Homefront). “That game ended up not coming out for whatever reason — I can go on a long diatribe about why — but it was just really cool, because we had the full Hovitos temple built out with the rolling boulder, and it was all awesome. That would’ve been Xbox/PS2 — that generation.”

If you know someone who worked on this lost game and could help preserve even more screenshots or footage, please let us know!

Thanks to Duarte and Indiana Jones Brasil for the contribution! 

Legend of Zelda: Sheik (Retro Studios) [Wii – Cancelled Concept]

In May 2020 Shinesparkers published a series of links to the online portfolio of Sammy Hall, former Retro Studios contract artist who worked on concept art for a cancelled Zelda game based on the Sheika tribe. This unreleased, darker view on the Zelda timeline would possibly explore what happened to the last male Sheik after Ocarina of Time’s “Bad Ending” in which Link does not succeed.

These drawings were noted as being used for pre-production of Retro Studios’ Sheik Zelda project between 2005 and 2008 (the same artist also worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country Returns), so we can assume it could have been planned to be released on Nintendo Wii or WiiU. As we can read on their original page:

“Old storage hard-drive diving! (2005 – 2008) More stuff from a long lost cancelled Zelda (Sheik) action/jrpg that never went beyond pre-production. Really want to return to these some day to finish a few. Zelda games have wacky weird stuff, and this game was setting out to be ten times weirder.”

“Fun pre-pre-pre-production origin story of the Master Sword. Within the bad ending of “Ocarina of Time” exploring the last male Sheik’s (after a genocidal ethnic-cleansing) journey transforming into the Master Sword. All while the Dark Gerudo are giving their 100 year birth to Gannon.”

After these images were found by fans and gaming journalists, the artist just deleted his whole ArtStation account. IGN was able to get in contact with him, asking about this Zelda project and another canned Nintendo DS Boo game:

“Speaking to IGN, ex-Retro Studios concept artist Sammy Hall explained that both games were in pre-production when cancelled, and “I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to brainstorm between other projects.”

According to Hall, the ideas for both games came from ex-Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson, but were “cancelled the week they went to create their other studios.”

Around 2008 – 2009 many video game websites published rumors about a Retro Studios Zelda game featuring Sheik, so it seems those rumors were true but the project was already cancelled at the time.

Unfortunately today some of these fascinating Zelda artworks seem to have been lost, as other websites did not save them all. We’d like to preserve them in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost video game. If you saved concept art from Retro Studios’ Zelda that are missing from this page, please let us know in the comments below or by email!

Thanks to AvenPlainstrider for the contribution!

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Vampire Hunter (Square Enix + Digital Extremes) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Digital Extremes is a Canadian video game developer founded in 1993, best known for creating Warframe, Dark Sector, The Darkness II and co-creating Epic Games’ Unreal series. Around 2012 the team was working with Square Enix to develop a new action adventure set in a fantasy vampire world, possibly to be published for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.

Unfortunately the project was never officially announced and they cancelled it in the end: we don’t have any more information about how it would have been played nor why it was never completed. Some concept art from this Vampire Hunter game is preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost project.

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Ninth Doctor Who (2005 Video Game) [Cancelled / Tech Demo]

A Doctor Who video game, based-off the science-fiction series of the same name, was being developed by Australian developer IR Gurus Interactive (later rebranded Transmission Games). The game would have coincided with the first series of the revived 2005 tv-show starring Christopher Eccleston as The Ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler. Development lasted half a year and was funded through substantial government subsidies. The reason for its cancellation according to Paul Callaghan who worked at the studio was simply “It’s complicated”.

“I’d wanted to work on a Doctor Who game since I was about 11 years old, so this was kind of a dream project for me,” said Callaghan. “When it was cancelled, I had to take a step back to work out whether or not this was the career I wanted to pursue.”

As to the plot for the game, it is vague whether the details given by Callaghan are what was planned for it. From the Sydney Morning Herald article:

“He conceived a plot around aliens modifying the human race with airborne nanobots, allowing companion Rose Tyler to undergo some changes: “We could give her some cool alien powers!””

According to Andy Widger, then head of communications for BBC Worldwide, there were no intentions of releasing it as he told website GamesRadar:

“The news of a Doctor Who game is a little premature. At present the only work being done is on an interactive demo for internal evaluation. There is no firm proposal for a game and no commitment to particular formats or an idea of a potential release date – and no screenshots.

Article by Vitas Varnas