Totems is a canceled action/platformer game developed by 10Tacle Studios Belgium (formerly elseWhere Entertainment) for 10Tacle Studios, from 2005 to 2008, for the PC and Xbox 360.
Made by former developers of the game Outcast, Totems was an action/adventure game mixing modern day world events with the fantasy of native American religion where the player controls Gia, a parkour expert, who inherits various powers from four different animal totem spirits.
The game was revealed a day before the Leipzig’s Game Convention 2007 as we can read on Gamesindustry:
“Darmstadt, August 22nd 2007 – Today 10TACLE STUDIOS AG and 10TACLE STUDIOS BELGIUM officially announce the development of TOTEMS for PC and Xbox 360.
Inspired by the urban sport “Le Parkour“, TOTEMS is a super-heroic platform game with tactical elements that let the player magically transform the world and story to their own style and skill. This third-person 3D action adventure offers non-linear gameplay in a highly interactive environment and is designed to be accessible to the widest audience while offering depth for the core gamers. The player character as well as the enemy is able to use the environment to full extent thanks to the innovative Semantic Environment Sensing System (SESS). Super-heroic movement and combat come alive in a never seen before manner. The Belgian developer’s proprietary NeoReality Engine sets new standards for next-gen platforms and provides an unparalleled atmosphere and experience. Based on an elaborate and original mythology, TOTEMS offers an exciting new world to explore.”
“The PC and Xbox 360 release is scheduled for 2008.”
It was showed during the convention in which Gamespot managed to write a preview:
(…) Gia’s expertise in parkour comes from one of the four totem spirits whose powers she’s able to use. Her agility comes from the monkey spirit, her speed comes from the cheetah spirit, and her combat skills come from the bear spirit. We weren’t told what powers the songbird spirit will afford you, except that they have something to do with creativity. Interestingly, each of the four spirits is mapped to a different face button on the Xbox 360 controller, and so each button can be used to perform a massive number of different moves depending on the context in which you press it.
Using only the monkey button during our presentation, the player was able to navigate a number of different obstacles, including high walls, columns, wide gaps, and narrow ledges. The animation was seamless, and the one-button control system is purportedly possible because of how aware Gia and other characters in Totems are of their surroundings. This was demonstrated to us in a number of different ways. When slowly moving toward the corner of a rooftop, for example, Gia automatically stopped and leaned over the edge to look down, and when left standing idle next to a low wall, she casually brushed her hand along the top of it.
The anthropomorphic tigers that attacked Gia at one point were also very aware of the geometry around them, and were incorporating parkour-style wall jumps and the like into some of their own combat moves. Like Gia’s, their moves were occasionally superhuman, including cat leaps and muscle-ups worthy of the Agency operatives in Crackdown(…).
Unfortunately, nearly one year after it’s announcement, 10Tacle Studios filed for bankruptcy in the beginning of August 2008, shutting down 10Tacle Studios Belgium and cancelling every projects within the studio. We learned via Planet-Adelpha that the development was stopped in March of the same year and that the team had decided to make a similar game using the technology initially created for Totems with Urban Race, also canceled:
“10Tacle AG is in a big financial crisis and it is not over yet. Here at elseWhere Entertainment it has been 6 months since they don’t pay us. The company took on its personal cash and contracted debts in order to keep paying the employees until 2 months ago (since June in fact). So it has been two months since we’re not paid which is a difficult situation for everyone here and Yves Grolet had to take a decision, we couldn’t wait much longer for the money of 10Tacle. So Yves decided to close the studios.”
“From the business and development point of view, Totems was paused (heavy) end of March due to cash issues of 10Tacle, we were doing the vertical slice demo. We had quite a lot of things to show and positive feedbacks. I guess you saw the problem with Michele Pes and stuff, 10Tacle AG suffered quite a lot due to Elveon cancel, Totems being late and more over wrong investments here and there. So 10Tacle was out of cash, without a CEO and investors were not happy at all. With the new CEO, investors decided to change company’s orientation, focusing only on online games and online worlds, they had already a project in mind. So for the team the last 6 months were quite depressing and there was a lot of uncertainties, some people left the company.”
“In the meantime as we saw that the financial situation was becoming critical at 10Tacle AG, the company decided to create a small spin off project based on what’ve being doing on Totems for 3 years, we worked on a project called Urban Race, a multiplayer parkour game yet very different from an esthetic point of view but really the same movement engine behind Totems.”
After that, several former developers returned to Appeal Studios, including former CEO Yves Grolet, currently developing Outcast 2: A New Beginning for THQ Nordic.