Survival Horror

Game of Death [PC, PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Game of Death is a cancelled survival horror / action game that was in development for Playstation 2, Xbox and PC by german team Burns Entertainment Software in 2001. It would have been somehow similar to Shadowman, players would take the role of a dying (?) man who would try to kill down the most notorious serial killers of the 20th century (for example Fritz Haarmann, Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer).

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Horror films director Joerg Buttgereit, who worked on such movies as Nekromantik and Schramm, was the one who created Game of Death’s concept and characters, a psychological horror game with an original gameplay mechanic.

The game’s protagonist is a young man sent to a hospital after a lethal car accident. While doctors try to save him, he dreams of a strange world in which you have to defeat evil serial killers to survive. Each homicidal maniac must be killed by their own method – choked, cut to pieces with a chainsaw, shot with a shotgun, crucified and so on.

You had to obtain the right weapons able to kill each boss by taking them from the less powerful monsters found in each level. It was necessary to learn and exploit the bosses weaknesses to survive, otherwise it would have been impossible to beat them. Players would have been able to read through the case files for those serial killers, to find clues about their modus operandi and weakness.

At the same time players should try to not became a murderer themselves, by killing bosses only during special circumstances, for example for self-defense, through the release of their kidnapped victims and so on. This would permit to eliminate the serial killers without losing your “innocence”, otherwise you could also lose your life at the end of the game.

More than 40 maniac bosses were planned for the game, each on with their own level accessible from a HUB zone, a giant bone cathedral.

Thanks to an interview with Burns Entertainment by Golem.de (in german, translated with Google Translate) we can learn some more details about this lost game:

Golem.de: How did the cooperation between BURNS and Jörg Buttgereit come about?

Winkler: I thought you’d have to do a horror game, in which you would like to go to bed after a gamble, but not in the basement. But this is hardly feasible as a pure game developer. Since you have all sorts of experiences, but none in terms of horror dramaturgy, effects and suspense. That’s why I contacted Jörg, who in Germany is something like the grandmaster of the horror and trash movie. I knew his necromancy films and the reviews he published in the Berlin press about movies. He has a wonderfully laconic writing style, I immediately liked that. Jörg found the idea exciting to play a game and immediately pledged.

Golem.de: Where do you see the most serious differences between Game Of Death and current action titles?

Winkler: Most action games are in fictitious worlds. The player fights against fantasy monsters or anonymous mercenaries. In Game Of Death, however, the player encounters negative characters in contemporary history who are firmly rooted in the memory of their nations. Many Germans know Fritz Haarmann, and many Americans know who Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer is. Dealing with the abysses of the human psyche is exciting for most people, whether they admit it publicly or prefer to watch “The Silence of the Lambs” at home alone, and we are openly dealing with that. Another difference is the awareness of physical decay. The hero is not a superman. If he is injured, the player can actually see the consequences of this injury. The hero loses physical substance with each injury until he becomes disabled as a skeleton. Of course, he can regenerate his energy and his physical substance during the game in various ways.

Golem.de: Do you think that Game of Death is at risk of being indexed?

Winkler: No. The game definitely will not be a splatter orgy and will not provide any instructions to finally get rid of your unloved neighbor, who has always annoyed you. It may of course be that someone alone calls for the keyword “serial killer” after indexing. This happened only recently before the cinema start of “Hannibal”, and that will happen again and again. But we aim for a USK release from 16 years. This is far from an indexing game.

Golem.de: Where do you set the limits with regard to the biographies of serial killers? What will you learn about the characters in the game, what will you be able to re-enact?

Winkler: In the game every mass murderer and serial killer dies according to the method with which he has killed his victims. As a result, the player becomes a hero and avenger on behalf of the defenseless victims. In order to fulfill this role, the player learns the most important information about the killer’s deeds and psyche in a “Serial Killers Dictionary” (SDK), which is constantly available as an inventory component. Not every detail of the life of mentally disturbed child molesters is spread in it. The SDK limits itself to key data relevant to the game.

The historically accurate course of the murders is not reconstructed in the game. This is not necessary for the gameplay. I also do not think anyone is really interested in slicing up the guts of a highly pregnant woman like the Manson gang did with Sharon Tate. That’s where we set very clear limits.

As far as we know, Burns Games were not able to find a publisher for Game of Death, maybe because of its settings. In the end the game was cancelled and the company vanished forever after a few years. Game of Death’s soundtrack would have been composed by Rod Army.

Thanks to Massimo Carlone for the contribution!

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LiZboa [Cancelled – PC]

LiZboa is a cancelled game that was in developed between 2009 and 2011 by Portuguese team Vectrlab, who wanted to create the first portuguese horror FPS, taking place in a post-apocalyptic Lisbon filled with zombies.

Being developed for PC and Mac, LiZboa would place the player in the role of a survivor of a pandemic disease that would transform Lisbon in the Ground Zero of a worldwide zombie-apocalypse. All of the action would happen in the most famous places of the Portuguese capital, such as Alfama, Graça, Baixa, Avenida da Liberdade, among others. In order to raise money for development, the game was supposed to have in-game advertising, product placement and a crowdfunding campaign was also planned.

Vectrlab were inspired by movies like 28 Days Later, Evil Dead, I am Legend and Dawn of the Dead, other than games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 1 and 2.  LiZboa was shown to the public for the first time at Motelx 2009 (Lisbon International Horror Film Festival) and in December of the same year, it was also shown at the 3rd Ignite Portugal, where Tiago Loureiro (Vectrlab CEO and Executive Producer) did a presentation of the game, explaining the concept behind te project, their marketing and how they planned to raise funds for development.

In 2010 a new partnership with Blueshark Studios was announced: this Portuguese company with a long history of outsourcing work for videogames, would provide concept art for LiZboa. In May another partnership with “Bad Behavioud” (a studio focused on horror movies), to – quoting Ângelo Fernandes – “expand LiZboa’s universe so as to give it a [more] cinematographic experience”.

At Motelx 2010 a playable demo / vertical slice (created in about  1 year of development) was available for the first time. Vectrlab had finally some defined concepts for their game (such as the main story arch, characters and their motivation, settings, etc.) and they could finally show this playable section of the game set in Sao Jorge Castle.

Despite all their efforts and the promotion of their game, Tiago Loureiro now recognizes that at the time LiZboa was too ambitious for their small start-up company. The project ended up being cancelled, after failing to secure funds with their crowdfunding campaign, without any investors interested in their in-game advertising or product placement. It was not possible to continue the project with just their own money.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Deprived (Diesel Games) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PC]

Deprived is a cancelled first person horror game that was in development by Diesel Games in 2007 / 2009, planned to be released for PC and Xbox 360. The game was conceived as a collaboration with GenAudio to showcase their “4D sound technology” known as AstoundSound.

As far as the settings and gameplay promised, Deprived could have been similar to Condemned: Criminal Origins – another first-person horror game developed by Monolith Productions and released in November 2005 on the Xbox 360.

Audio would have been a key element in the game, taking advantage of the AstoundSound technology to “models how the brain perceives sound from all directions (including above and below the listener)”. As Deprived was conceived as an horror game we can assume that this kind of high-level audio would have highly improved players’ immersion in its fearful world.

“AstoundSound uses enhanced 3D sound technology software, we call 4D, built on over a decade of research and development into how the human brain perceives sound. “

In the end – even if Deprived was never released as a full game – an audio demo with the same name and settings was released by GenAudio on their official website:

“We’re thrilled to present Deprived, a special technology demo from Astound Holdings. Set in a creepy, abandoned prison building, the demo provides the perfect setting for you to experience a rich soundscape powered by AstoundSound 3D RTI spatial audio technology. You’ll hear game audio like never before!”

Before to close down without any official statement, Diesel Games were also working on another cancelled game only known as “Project Tesla”. If you worked on these lost games and could help to preserve more details and media, please let us know!

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Eden (Antichrist) [Cancelled – PC, Xbox 360, PS3]

Eden is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development in 2009 by Zentropa Games as a tie-in / epilogue of the Antichrist movie directed by Lars Von Trier. Zentropa Games was part of Zentropa Entertainments, the Danish film company started in 1992 by Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen and from an interview published on Eurogamer DK it seems that Aalbaek was the one to suggest making a game related to Antichrist.

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tie-in

Eden was based in the same universe as Antichrist, with a new plot starting where the film ends. The player would have assumed the role of Willem Dafoe‘s character, who goes back to the lodge in the woods (called “Eden”) to try to figure out the cause for the violent events seen in the movie. Eden would have been a deep dive into your darkest and most gloomy personal fears, as players had to create their own profile at the start of the game, answering to a series of questions about their fears, and thus making the adventure a very personal experience, that would change for each individual.

We can assume gameplay would have been somehow similar to the Silent Hill series mixed with Heavy Rain and other Quantic Dream games, but played in first person. The game was conceived to be played multiple times, to see all the different endings and events. Zentropa Games planned to release Eden in 2010 for PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.

As we can read in an article by Superannuation published by Kotaku:

Morten Iversen, formerly a writer on the Hitman franchise at IO Interactive, led the development of the game, and Politiken added that “Von Trier [had to] approve the [team’s] final design. […] In an e-mail, Iversen said Eden “was originally intended to be a companion piece to [the film],” but the development team ultimately felt Antichrist’s audience was too narrow, so they decided to reposition it as a unique story-driven title appealing to people interested in games like Heavy Rain. Iversen compared the connection between Eden and Antichrist to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name: there would be elements – the setting and general universe – discerning fans would recognize, but it would still be an accessible product for a larger audience.

The game began “with a short prologue about legal and emotional repercussions” of Antichrist’s events, and then tasked players with “collecting clues in a mystery that slowly unfolds – [they] unlock areas in and around the cabin [from the film],” Iversen said. In order to succeed in Eden, players had to confront their personal phobias and “explore the darkness in [the game’s] universe” and within the players.”

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tiein Willem Dafoe

Unfortunately in early 2010 Zentropa Games had to close down because of economic issues:

“Even after receiving 100,000 Euro in aid they just couldn’t manage to keep it going. It seems that the games industry in Denmark is coming to a crushing halt as now 4 developers have closed in the last 12 months.  “There was just no budget to continue development. Over the years it became increasingly clear that there simply was not enough money,” said Morten Iversen, former head of Zentropa Games to PC World.”

Only a few concept arts remains from the development of Eden: if you know someone who worked on this game that could have some screenshots or videos, please let us know

Acid Rain (Namco Bandai) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360]

Acid Rain is a mysterious cancelled Playstation 3 / Xbox 360  game that was being developed by Namco Bandai Games USA just for a few months in early 2009, probably by the same team behind their Afro Samurai game. A few concept arts from this obscure project were leaked online some years ago, and while we tried many times to get in contact with people who worked on the game, unfortunately we were not able to get any more details about it.

By looking at these images we can just speculate that the game would have been some kind of action / horror game, and it looks like it could have been an interesting one.

If you know someone who worked at Namco Bandai USA in 2009 and could remember something about Acid Rain, please let us know! In the meantime we’d like to preserve these concept arts in the gallery below.

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