Survival Horror

Gunhero [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360]

After finishing Medal of Honor: Vanguard and Medal of Honor: Airborne, in 2007 EA Los Angeles started to work on a new game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, titled Gunhero. While keeping a first person view as their previous MoH titles, this new project would have been set in a post zombie-apocalypse world, focused on using melee weapons and close quarter combat, somehow preceding what Techland did 4 years later with Dead Island and one year before the release of Left 4 Dead. The project was still in early development and many features were not decided yet, as the plan for a possible coop multiplayer mode, but unfortunately it was cancelled before to be completed. The game was noticed in 2011 by Siliconera after Gunhero’s Art Director Zach Schlappi published a few concept art online.

The main character in Gunhero was a volunteer SAR pilot whose crew fatally died after their Jayhawk was brought down by a rescued survivor who was hiding the zombie infection. Caught in the middle of the quarantine zone, the pilot had to survive through zombies to rescue scientist who may hold a cure.

Even if their early prototype did garnered a lot of internal praise, Dead Space was also pitched to EA during the same time and they decided to cancel Gunhero as there was not room in their portfolio for two survival horror games. Even if Dead Space became a success for EA, the popularity of open world, first person zombie games in the following years marks the cancellation of Gunhero as a huge missed opportunity for the studio.

In 2010 EA Los Angeles would be re-branded as Danger Close Games, but 3 years later after the commercial failure of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the studio was dissolved and some employees moved to DICE Los Angeles.




Silent Hill: Cold Heart [Wii – Cancelled Pitch]

Silent Hill: Cold Heart was a pitch for a new Silent Hill game that eventually became Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. This pitch came to light when the developers Climax Studios held a competition to give away eight copies of the document to fans, who since have uploaded it to the Internet so that other fans can enjoy it. Cold Heart was planned in 2007 by Climax for the Wii and would have been published by Konami.

Cold Heart would have followed Jessica Chambers an athletic but emotionally vulnerable college student. The protagonist would have recently being talking to a psychiatrist after being plagued by horrific nightmares and being unable to sleep. These distressing circumstances lead to Jessica leaving her college town and going on a road trip to go back to visit her parents, on the way back Jessica becomes caught in a blizzard and so follows an ambulance that leads her to the town of Silent Hill. This is where the game would begin with Jessica stranded and needing somewhere to stay the evening: she explores the town, but now her nightmares start to become real.

silent hill cold heart wii cancelled

The game would contain the usual elements of a Silent Hill game but would use features of the Wii such as the Wiimote to control where the player shines the flashlight. The Wiimote was to be used for a large number of controls in the game, in combat the player would swing the remote to enact the actions on the screen, it is also noted that the sound of hitting an enemy would play through the speaker on the remote. The remote would also be used for when puzzles needed to be solved, using push, pull and turning motions. Also for puzzles certain audio cues would be played through the remote that would hint on how to solve them. The remote was also going to be used for interactions with other characters, allowing you to point, nod or shake your head.

The “world’s first real psychological horror” is how Silent Hill: Cold Heart is described in the pitch, this is because of the ways in which the game would tailor itself to the individual, creating unique experiences for different players. These experiences that would change would be story events, dialogue, sound cues, monsters and even camera field of view. Profiling was one of the ways this would be done when certain questions were asked by Jessica’s psychiatrist, the players answer would be logged, also your response to events would also be tracked, thus building up a psychological profile for the player. Climax also wanted each player’s psych profile to be shared and compared to friends over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Climax also wanted to change the way that the player can use their inventory, rather than being able to collect many items, it would be restricted to what could only be worn or stored on the body of Jessica, or in a small backpack the player could use. This was because Climax wanted to have survival type elements to the game, with the player having to find new clothes to protect themselves from the blizzard that would rage through Silent Hill. The player would also have to eat food and drink water to maintain their health. These items would not just maintain the health of the player though, it would also maintain their body heat and stamina.


There are a few puzzle examples also noted in the pitch document, such as the metal detector, the player would have to slowly move the Wiimote and use the audio cues of beeps from the remote to find hidden objects in the snow. “Sewer Fishing” is also another puzzle noted, this is where the player would have to try and collect a key while using rumble and audio cues to fish it out.

The main technical features that are mentioned in the document are that the game would have dynamic weather, mentioned are updated fog effects from Silent Hill: Origins, these would allow the fog to react to the different shapes of the environment. The variables of the weather would also change so that the player would have different intensity of the blizzard.

Climax also wanted the game to be seamless, to do this they were going to “stream” content ahead of the player by anticipating where the player would guide Jessica, this would mean that there would be little to no loading times in the game.  They also wanted to push photo-realistic graphics on the Wii and were confident that they could “redefine” what people could expect from real-time graphics on the WII.

One other feature that was mentioned, pending talks with Nintendo, was the integration of players Mii, their local weather and news. Climax wanted to be able to quote this in the game so that it would “spook” the player. With the Mii integration they wanted to use certain aspects of the user created Mii such as hair colour and project them on to the main characters in the game.

Contained in the document is a large description of some exploration, combat and puzzle solving, if you would like to read through this to see some of the experiences you would have in the game, please download and read the pitch to get a detailed understanding.

Ultimately, Cold Heart was never realized but a few details were used in Silent Hills: Shattered Memories as the cold and harsh environment, the use of a psychological profile to change some situations and parts of the plot. This pitch is however a really interesting look into how a different version of one of the top rated survival horror games could have looked like. Shattered memories was released for Wii in 2008 which was essentially a reimagining of the very first Silent Hill game, and it reviewed fairly well, it does however leave questions of how well a different story and character would have done.

If you have any more information on this game or any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.


Necroscope [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Necroscope is a cancelled psychological survival horror that was in development in 2002 / 2003 by Mobius Entertainment for Xbox and Playstation 2. The studio was mostly know for a series of ports and tie-in for GBA and Nescroscope would have been one of their first projects for home consoles. The game would have let players to investigate the world using extra-sensory perception and supernatural powers, as possessing other characters and monsters. It seems that gameplay would have been a mix between a detective adventure (L.A. Noire), horror sections against monsters (Silent Hill), while using special abilities to interact with the environment and resolve puzzles (Second Sight, Psi-Ops). As wrote by Edge Magazine (issue 117) in Necroscope we would have played as a “unique blend of a Jedi Knight and James Bond“.

The story and characters of the game were based on Brian Lumley’s series of sci-fi horror novels, a setting that would have offered a complex plot to unveil and an original way to interact with spirits:

“The term necroscope, as defined in the series, describes someone who can communicate with the dead (coined Deadspeak later in the series). Unlike necromancers, who here extract the knowledge they seek by brutal eviscerations of corpses, a necroscope can communicate with them as equals: peacefully and without any physical interference.”

In 2004 Mobius Entertainment was acquired by Rockstar Games (for which they already developed the GBA conversion of Max Payne in 2003) becoming Rockstar Leeds. After the buyout, home consoles games that were in development by Mobius (Necroscope and Titanium Angels) were canned and the studio focused their resources on creating portable games for PSP.  As we can read in an interview by Ross Sillifant with Dan Hunter (former Lead Artist and Game Designer at Mobius):

Ross: Talking of canned games, Necroscope,previewed in Edge for PS2 and Xbox, described as a cocktail of jedi mind tricks and sophisticated espionage, this was to be Mobius Entertainment’s 1st crack at a survival horror title. From the 4 screens shown, the game engine looked superb, very much inspired by Silent Hill, but it didn’t appear gameplay was as far along as the visuals at this point (Dec’2002). Game was set for a Q4 2003 release, so again, any insights as to what became of it, would be fantastic.

Dan: Necroscope suffered similar issues to Titanium Angels. You’re correct, the game was to be a survival horror game, set in late 70’s, early 80’s, London. Think Silent Hill mixed with the TV show ‘The Professionals’. I loved the concept and setting. I spent a huge amount of time “researching”, watching boxsets of The Professionals, The Sweeny, and films like ‘Who Dares Wins’ (‘The Final Option’ in the U.S). I’d say that actually the gameplay was further along than Titanium Angels ever was. Unfortunately the same pattern emerged, the play style changed over time. Where at one point there was to be little to no gun play or violence, with the vibe firmly set on exploration and playing detective, it slowing changing into shooting and snapping necks from behind cover. For me that was a real shame, I think it had the potential to be something different. There weren’t many people doing a spin on the horror genre, especially something set in the 70’s-80’s (this was pre Vice City). I still think about what it could have been, and I’m a little bummed to think it never happened. The other issue was that it was being developed without a publisher, so therefore wasn’t bringing in any money. Other games were, so naturally that was the focus. ‘Sound of Thunder’ was one, but the main one was ‘Max Payne’. Mobius was tasked with doing the Gameboy Advance version. As people may know, after that Rockstar bought Mobius Entertainment and renamed it Rockstar Leeds. I had left during the development of Necroscope and before the Rockstar buy out, so I can’t give the precise reason for its cancellation, but it’s clear to me that a small horror game set in 70’s London based on a series of books isn’t part of Rockstar’s bigger plans.

Thanks to Ross Sillifant for the contribution!


Legions of Fear (La Toile du Diable) [Cancelled – PS2, PC]

La Toile du Diable (“Devil Canvas” in english) was a PC tech demo created by Delphine Software (DSI) in 2002 in order to show to publishers the technical and gameplay features of a planned PC / PS2 adventure game called Legions of Fear. According to ex-delphine employee Paul Cuisset, Sony was interested in the project, but they wanted Delphine to finish Moto Racer Traffic first (which, ironically, got cancelled too). Unfortunately, Delphine was already going bankrupt at the time, and consequently Legions of Fear was quietly dropped shortly after.

The game was supposed to be set during the first World War, with the main characters being a sister (Helena) and her brother. The story began when the heroine got lost and entered the mysterious Wildcastle Manor. Inside the mansion she discovered that the deceased Anton Wildcastle had apparently promised Helena’s soul to his “masters”.

As seen from the videos below, Legions of Fear was a mix between a survival horror and a point & click adventure: during the action sequences we directly controlled the protagonist and fought enemies in pre-rendered backgrounds. When indoors in order to find clues it was necessary to interact with the environments by using a mouse or – in in case of the Ps2 version – the controller buttons.

Thanks to Thierry Levastre, La Toile du Diable’s lead animator, for the contribution!




Kurayami (Suda51) [Cancelled Pitch – PS3]

Kurayami is a cancelled psychological / horror game that was pitched by Grasshopper Manufacture as a PS3 exclusive and originally announced in Edge Magazine issue 162, in May 2006. Being inspired by Franz Kafka novels (a writer known for his stories about alienation, physical and psychological paranoia), in Kurayami players would had to explore a mysterious european castle (that we can relate to Kafka’s The Castle) and the near village filled with creepy inhabitants, using the light from his torch to resolve puzzles and move through the darkness. Light and darkness would have been a central theme in the game, similarly to what happens in Alan Wake (announced in 2005 but released in 2010), in Kurayami the protagonist would have been safer in lit areas while dangers would have been lurking in the darkness.


Talking about this concept, Goichi Suda said:

“When I considered the visuals, I immediately thought of darkness, and I imagined a hero within this night, with a light that would in a way symbolise his life. That became the core concept of Kurayami: literally, ‘darkness’ (in Japanese). […] It’s not about some hideous monsters or evil creatures coming out of the darkness, but playing on our natural fears of the dark, and the uneasiness that comes from the absence of noise and life. […] “Kurayami’s ideas are not about violence or eroticism, but fundamental problems in the human mind, which may find some conflict with the rating system. […] Though I expect the rating level to be quite high for Kurayami, I also expect the PS3 to be mainly purchased and used by an adult audience. I’m making a game for an adult audience, one that shows what life is and what being human is.”

Players would have had to pay attention to the townsfolk too, as the game would have been ambiguous about their intentions and personality:

“It shows how people change when faced with their fears – in a way, you could see a little bit of what Japan, or the world, is like in this town.”

While there are no in-game screenshots available (only the concept arts that you can see in the gallery below) it’s know that Kurayami would have used a cell-shading style focused on the contrast between colors and black, evolving the 3D engine Grasshopper already used in Killer7. From what was said by Suda during an interview with Joystiq in 2009 it seems that the game never entered into a prototype form:

“It’s not even in development right now. We aren’t even really working on it. We’ve just been talking about it, but there hasn’t been time to work on it. Actually it was really just for Edge. The artwork was just something we submitted them. We’re not working on this project yet. They had some special coverage about Grasshopper and we talked a little bit about Kurayami, and so we gave them some artwork.”

Originally Suda51 told to Edge that they wanted to make Kurayami appealing to more people than their precedent games, saying that “The challenge now is to go beyond simple recognition, and transform our original games into a mainstream success”. Only a year later Grasshopper released No More Heroes for the Wii and it became their most successful games until that point. While Kurayami sounded like a dark, introspective and uneasing experience with european inspired environment and characters, No More Heroes was an explosion of over-the-top action, japanese fanservice and quirky personas.

This could have been the reason why Kurayami was quietly cancelled: in the next few years the team was busy developing Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen (Wii, 2008, a new chapter in the popular Fatal Frame / Project Zero series) and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii, 2010), supporting Nintendo’s motion-controlled console and finding a new market for their projects.

While Kurayami was never released, its main concept of light and darkness was reused for another Grasshopper Manufacture title: Shadows of the Damned. SotD was a much more linear, over-the-top horror / action game than what Kurayami appeared to be, and even if the released project is a good one, unfortunately there’s no trace of Kafka influences anymore.


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