Zombies: The Awakening is a canceled survival-horror first-person shooter developed by Krysalide for the PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox around 2003-2004 for a release planned in the beginning of 2005.
Using the Unreal Engine 2, Zombies: The Awakening was the first game from a small team composed of 15 people. Few is known about the game itself apart from the official announcement on the old website that we can now find everywhere on the Internet:
“Mix of FPS and survival/horror. Balance between action and adventure to offer a varied experience to the player.
Interactive use of the surroundings in order to survive in the besieged town : find objects to block paths, use electricity or gaz to forge a path to freedom. Find food and medication to save your skin and that of other survivors.
Beware the contamination… zombies attacks will slowly turn you into one of them… See your body changing, becoming slow and clumsy, but also more resistant to bullets and other attacks. But will you find a cure in time ? Find medikits, ingredients to a serum and use the sickness to your advantage.
Find other survivors. Each will bring new skills in medication, combat, electronics… and each one will have a different personnality and weaponry.
When ammo is sparse, use other mayhem devices : electric drill, molotov cocktail, and many more…
Half of the city is plunged in darkness. If you want to avoid surprises, find reliable light sources.
20 hours of intense gameplay, 11 levels to test your survival instincts, 20 weapons and 12 sidekicks.
Various and dangerous enemies, with different behaviors and intelligence. Hordes of living dead, squad based military, zombies, and bikers from hell ready to plunder town…”
On December 2003, a developer from Krysalide was interviewed by Ownt and shared more about the game:
“Zombies is a first-person shooter created to replicate the vibe of Resident Evil while offering the freedom of movement of a first-person game. Krysalide hopes to avoid the heavyweight competition of FPS by standing out for the gameplay peculiar to any good survival horror game.
The game will last about 15 hours and will be a series of missions and puzzles placed on a linear frame. Each mission will allow you to meet a new secondary character with his own weapon and special skills.
The project is ambitious, especially since it is planned to integrate into the game a substantial multiplayerpart that the developer of Krysalide compares to Counter Strike with zombies in the center and on each side of the character classes (bikers, soldiers, police officers, survivors).”
However, after some gameplay was revealed initially on February 2004, the game vanished before French website NoFrag was informed from the CEO of Krysalide himself, Loïc Barrier, that it was definitely canceled due to lack of publishers interested in the project:
It’s been a year since we last talked about Zombies: The Awakening, and for a good reason: today I had confirmation from Loïc Barrier, the boss of Krysalide, that the game will never be released. It was canceled, apparently a while ago, when Krysalide realized that no publisher would accept the project as the developer had designed it.
We can speculate that it was too ambitious for a first game from a small team of 15 people that had never made before their own game.
After the cancellation of Zombies: The Awakening, Krysalide would still work as an outsource company on various projects made by French developers such as The Crew and Dishonored 2 before disappearing.
In Demonik, the player assume the role of Volwrath, a demon who is summoned to Earth by humans seeking revenge against those who’ve done them wrong in some way. To do so, Volwrath has multiple supernatural powers such as telekinesis or even the possession of spirit’s human being.
The game was first announced as a brand new IP in May 2005, when an agreement between Tiger Hill and Majesco was reached. Horror master Clive Barker was attached to the project as writer and director of the game:
“Demonik is set to launch in 2006 on next generation consoles and is being developed simultaneously as a feature film by acclaimed filmmaker and writer Clive Barker. Barker is set to oversee the story, character designs, cinematics and voice talent for the game.”
“Clive Barker adds “Demonik will be an intense gaming experience. I’m having a lot of fun enriching the game’s mythology and polishing the characters till they shine. And, of course, adding a little bit of Barker darkness.”
“Demonik is the latest game from award-winning developer Terminal Reality, creators of Majesco’s hit BloodRayne series. Demonik is a detailed third-person action game that allows players to control the ultimate bad guy — wreaking havoc with a variety of innovative and spectacular powers and abilities.”
The game was shown at E3 2005 where IGN and Gamespy were able to unveil further details. Gamespy was writing a short preview:
“In Demonik, players take on the role of a powerful vengeance demon named Volwrath, who is summoned to Earth by humans seeking revenge against those who’ve done them wrong in some way. Although bound by his human masters, Volwrath gets stronger and stronger with each summoning, ultimately becoming powerful enough to break the chains that bind him and take over the world of those he once served.
Volwrath faces off against a variety of opponents, both human and supernatural. Luckily, Volwrath has more than a few otherworldly tricks up his sleeve. Volwrath has the ability to jump from body to body at will, corrupting those he controls in the process. Volwrath also has access to a total of twenty five different demonic powers, allowing him to do everything from spreading a lethal plague to flash frying anyone in sight.
I had the chance to check out a hands-on alpha preview of Demonik during a behind closed doors session at Majesco’s E3 booth. I was thoroughly impressed by what I saw. The game uses a dynamic multipass lighting system and a realistic physics engine that work well together to bring the world of Demonik to life.
Other key points highlighted during the presentation included details on the game’s single-player and multiplayer capabilities. The game will include 10-12 single-player summoning missions, as well as a few missions in Volwrath’s Underworld home. For the multiplayer side of things, gamers will be able to compete against each other in one-on-one demon combat, or in five-on-one human versus demon battles. It was also pointed out that the game is still in the early stages of development, and that more multiplayer options could be added prior to the game’s release.”
“Volwrath has immense power, which you’ll need to grow and harness throughout the adventure. While lighting strikes and plague-infection powers come later in the game, the two key abilities are Volwrath’s Devil Hand and possession ability. The Devil Hand looks a lot like Psi-Ops, where Volwrath can lift objects and enemies and toss them around like dolls. The 360 difference is that everything in the environment can be interacted with. Everything. At a chemical facility, Volwrath can pick up humans and toss them into acid vats and watch them bubble and vaporize. Throw crates, toss barrels. Consider it your innate gravity gun.
Possession allows Volwrath to enter human hosts and assume their identity. The longer Volwrath stays in a host, the more powerful he becomes as he slowly feeds on the host’s lifeforce, but this also slowly turns the human form more and more demonic. Stay long enough and Volwrath will fully emerge from the host. You can leave a host at any time, which instantly places you in a first person “Redeemer” cam. As a spiritual entity, you can’t go through solid objects and the further you get from your previous host, the weaker you become.
The applications of possession are pretty awesome. You can possess a security guard and start shooting your buddies then leap out and head into another area of the room to take over a scientist. As the scientist scurries away, the other guards start attacking their brother in arms, who has no idea why everyone is suddenly taking shots at him. Let chaos reign. Run into an enemy who can see your demonic form emerging from a host and you can leap right into the enemy as he sprays the first bullets at your former host.
Demonik features eight different powers (plus the devil hand). Each power can be upgraded three full levels and you can choose which powers to upgrade first. Powers can also be chained, so if you curse an enemy with the Plague, you can then use the Devil Hand to throw them into another group, infecting the whole lot.
You can affect every human in the game, except for the Demonic Hunters. This special group of humanoids hunt your peeps and are immune to all of your powers. Fortunately, they aren’t immune to bullets. And Volwrath has no problems bustin’ a cap in people or opening up with a few powerful fist blows. And don’t forget that you can chuck objects at enemies and cause mass destruction to the environment.
Though the framerate’s a little shaky at this early stage, Demonik shows the power of the 360. Everything is normal-mapped, has dynamic lighting and looks fantastic.”
However, after it’s presentation at E3, the game was canceled in the beginning of 2006, alongside Martin Scorsese’s movie tie-in video game Taxi Driver, after Majesco ran into big financial trouble as we can read on Engadget:
“Majesco is “shifting its product strategy away from the premium console game market” to focus primarily on value and handheld games. As a result, expected high-profile titles such as Taxi Driver and Demonik have been cancelled. This follows the sale of the rights to The Darkness and Ghost Rider back in December.
Losing $70 million in a year can be tough on any publisher, but it can be crushing for a struggling one like Majesco. The commercial failures of the trumpeted sci-fi epic Advent Rising and the Schafer-produced gem Psychonauts did nothing to help things as the company only made $4.6 million in revenue (not profit) in the 4th quarter of 2005.”
Demonik was featured during a scene in the 2006’s movie Grandma’s Boy.
City of the Dead, also known as The Living Dead : City of the Dead and George A. Romero’s City of the Dead, is a canceled horror first-person shooter developed by Kuju Entertainment and published by Hip Interactive for PC, Xbox and Playsation 2 platforms in 2005.
Presented as “the goriest game ever made”, City of the Dead was first revealed in August 2004 by none other than American McGee as his next game, wanting to sign a deal with Living Dead Productions, the company of the father of the Zombie film, George A. Romero:
“Recently, my company TMIEC partnered with Asylum Entertainment to bring to life a new Romero concept called “City of the Dead”. We’re now in the process of shopping the interactive rights to games publishers. The tagline for the product is “the goriest game ever made”.
“The guys at MercurySteam sent over a couple of cool zombie concept images. Based on what an amazing job they’ve done on Scrapland we’re really excited to have them attached to develop the Romero “City of the Dead” game.”
In December of the same year, Hip Interactive revealed to have signed a deal with Living Dead Productions about a game named City of the Dead, without saying if it was the same concept initially pitched by American McGee, or a brand new one as some media would later said that it was a different game:
“Horror fans have been searching for the ultimate experience in gaming, and we intend to deliver it to them with the tremendous creative input of legendary director, George A. Romero, and Living Dead Productions,” said Arindra Singh, President and CEO of Hip Interactive.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to share George’s work and ideas with the game buying public,” said Simon Bailey, Managing Director of Living Dead Productions. “We are very impressed with the quality of work that Hip will bring to the games. George’s fans and gamers alike will not be disappointed!”
Shortly after this announcement, media revealed that it was ultimately Kuju Entertainment that would develop it, replacing MercurySteam, which was slated for release in March 2006:
“Back in December, Hip Interactive announced it will produce games based on the work of horror director George A. Romero, creator of classic zombie-fests like Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.
Hip Interactive has recruited developer Kuju Entertainment to produce the first of the Romero games, which is expected to appear by March of 2006.”
The game was officially announced shortly before E3 2005 in a statement from Hip Interactive:
“City of the Dead” begins as four desperate survivors escape a ravaged zombie infested city by helicopter. After making it to the remote island of Isla Mortal (N.B. : some media wrote that the name of the setting was Island of Ningun Futuro instead), an accident destroys their only means of escape. Unbeknown to them the island is home to a top secret military installation, overrun by the walking dead. Armed with an arsenal of traditional and futuristic weaponry, players must battle the living dead from dusk ’till dawn in series of abandoned locales. With split-screen co-op missions, party mode, and four-player online feature, “City of the Dead” also promises a range of multiplayer features that allow gamers to play as human or zombie.”
We also learned that Tom Savini lent his voice to one of the main characters:
“The company also revealed today that Tom Savini, star of From Dusk till Dawn and known horror makeup artist, will lend his voice and likeness to City of the Dead. Savini will play William “Red” McLean, a battle-worn ex-cop who initially lends support to the player, but will eventually be a playable character himself.”
Presented at E3 2005, the game received various previews from IGN, Gamespy and Gamespot. Thus, IGN wrote:
“Hip Games’ City of the Dead is a first-person shooter that’s “Trying to become Burnout for the shooting genre.” That’s at least according to company representatives, anyway. Judging by the short presentation we saw, it seems that City of the Dead can more accurately be described as, “a totally vicious FPS that features buckets of blood interspersed with the occasional cubic ton of tenderized brain matter.” City of the Dead does still feature some cool Burnout-like gameplay elements, though.
One of the modes within City of the Dead mimics Burnout 3’s infamous Crash Mode and tasks players with killing as many zombies as possible with a single shot from a specific weapon. To do this, players will want to wait for the most opportune moment to fire their weapon at one of a number of preset environmental hazards, be they massive crates suspended from cranes or conveniently placed combustible barrels. Once you shoot, the widely used Havokphysics systems will take care of the rest. This way the results of the action are always different.
In terms of an actual story mode, City of the Dead features one city, some animated dead people who are terribly reluctant to stop moving, and a few dudes who’d really like to not become one of them.
In a way, City of the Dead sort of resembles a cross between Resident Evil and Soldier of Fortune. That is, the game features an excessive amount of dismemberment and gore, which it is not at all afraid to highlight with a number of cinematic, slow-mo camera swoops, zooms and pans. But unlike Soldier of Fortune, the enemies just keep on coming.
Before we go, check out this cool thing we noticed that most people might overlook… When you shoot an enemy, he is entirely governed by physics, meaning he’ll flop around like any good rag doll should. But, totally unlike just about every other game under the sun, enemies in City of the Dead can actually get up and begin animating after the physics routine has initiated and played out. This is, as far as we know, a technical problem no other developer has yet been able to resolve well (at least we haven’t seen it implemented in any other game).”
“City of the Dead isn’t based on any specific Romero films, but it is based within the larger Dead universe. In it, you play as one of five different characters, all of which are just trying to survive in a city that has been overrun with the walking dead.
The game itself is a first-person shooter, and it really doesn’t aspire to be anything more than a fast-paced arcade shooter. You’ll find a number of different weapon types, including pistols, machine guns, grenades, and shotguns. There were a couple of unique aspects of the weapons we saw. For instance, the shotgun is fully pump-action, meaning each time you fire, you’ll have to manually reload it using the left trigger button. While that might seem a little cumbersome at first, it actually wasn’t, and it seemed to add to the intensity of the action. Another cool thing is the way you can kind of jury-rig other things onto your weapons to make them more effective in melee combat. For example, you can tie a shovel to the butt of the shotgun, making it much easier to explode a zombie’s head. The same can be done to your pistols, by taping brass knuckles to them.
Zombies tend to travel in groups, and they come in different varieties. Obviously, there’s the usual lumbering, biting, angry zombie, but we also saw a cop zombie, who continually fired a shotgun at us at random intervals and a leaper zombie, a creepy little guy who crawls around on the ground and then jumps at you. Zombies cannot be killed unless you destroy the brain, but you can knock them backward or even blow off body parts if you hit them elsewhere.
There will be 14 to 16 story missions in the game, though the story here is barely the focus. The developers used Burnout as an example of how they are really looking to make a super-arcadey, over-the-top kind of game. So a lot of the mission objectives will be appropriately focused on killing as many zombies as you can, without much worry about anything else. Once you complete the story mode, you’ll also have arcade and multiplayer modes to check out. The arcade mode works similarly to Soul Calibur’s weapon master mode. You’ll be given a series of available challenges, each with semi-arbitrary rules, like you can only use melee combat, or you have to kill a certain number of a specific type of zombie. The multiplayer will be online for up to four players and features competitive and cooperative play. The cooperative mode sounds especially cool, as during the mode, your friends can be infected. Here, you can opt to just kill your partner immediately, sparing him the change of death, or you can keep him alive long enough to help you kill some more zombies. You’ll have to be careful, however, because once they turn, they’ll come after you.”
“The game’s big visual attraction is the physics engine which flings zombies realistically around based on point of impact. Naturally, this means that there will be a variety of classic weapons such as pistols, shotguns and rocket launchers to turn the zombies into so much zombie goulash. Since it takes a headshot to kill these things, the game also rewards good shots with a beautiful images of exploding heads using a slow motion “bullet-time” effect. Given how tough the zombies are, though, it’ll take more than just a steady hand to take them out, though. That’s why the environment is full of exploding things such as gas canisters, fuel drums and crates of explosives that can set off awesome chain reactions. Judicious use of these items will be vital in clearing out levels in story mode.
As much fun as story mode looks, though, it doesn’t really hold a candle to the “One-shot” levels. These are bonus levels that are unlocked as the player goes through story mode. Undoubtedly inspired by Burnout 3’s crash challenges, the “One-shot” levels puts you in an enclosed space with a bunch of zombies wandering around and a gun with only one bullet. The challenge is to pick out the correct exploding device to shoot to set off a chain reaction that will kill as many zombies as possible in as entertaining a manner as possible.
City of the Dead will sport a multiplayer mode, but rather than just offer up a vanilla deathmatch capability, the game will instead sport a four-player co-op mode that works off the strengths of the setting. If a player gets bitten once during the game (as opposed to shot or hit), that’s it, a countdown timer starts, the player dies, and turns into a zombie. That means that even though four players start the game together, eventually someone’s going to end up a zombie — and that’s where the real fun starts. Players who become zombies will respawn as new zombies when they die and start hunting those who are still alive. They get all the strengths and weakness of the undead (slow speed and incredible resilience), so the game for the zombies becomes using their brains to set up ambushes for the human players.”
Unfortunately, only 2 months after City of the Dead was revealed, Hip Interactive filed for bankruptcy:
“After failing to strike a last-minute deal to bolster its shaky finances, Hip Interactive said it has ceased operations and would close its doors completely in short order. The company said this morning that “discussions with a third party to provide interim relief in respect of the Company’s immediate financing needs were not successful.”
“The publisher had a number of high-profile games on its upcoming slate including Call of Cthulhu: Destiny’s End, George Romero’s City of the Dead, and Jackie Chan Adventures. There has been no word on which publishers are in line to pick up those and other games due from Hip.”
Only a month after the publisher’s demise, Kuju Entertainment was trying to find a new one for the game, but alas, no deal will materialize and City of the Dead vanished after this news. It was once suggested that Freeze Interactive, a Franco-Swiss publisher founded by former staffs of the European branch of Hip Interactive, had taken over the game, now titled World of the Dead, but nothing was officially confirmed, and World of the Dead disappeared very quickly without any information, just like Freeze Interactive. This rumor followed the fact that Ghost Wars, another game initially canceled with the closure of Hip Interactive, was taken over by Freeze shortly after.
Project ACLAND is a cancelled horror game that was in development by Krome Studios around 2006 / 2009, planned to be released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The team spent 3 years prototyping the project, with huge focus on its violent and gory aspects: there are no details about its gameplay but we know players would fight a huge monster while trying to survive its fury.
As far as we know Acland was never officially announced by Krome Studios before its cancellation, but former Krome’s Creative Director Steve Stamatiadis talked about it in an old article published by Games ON:
“We also had this monster game that we’d been wanting to do for a long time, called Project ACLAND”. The game was at least three years worth of work according to Steve, but it was something that publishers had shown definite interest in. “The lack of R18+ rating was a problem, as it was going to be really gory,” he says, “like a monster movie. But there was no way you can sell a game like that in Australia. At times I was thinking ‘Why would I want to make a game that I can’t even play here?’”
The ACLAND monster, named after Acland Lane behind Krome’s Brisbane offices, would later go on to star in Blade Kitten. ”I’d really love to come back do Project ACLAND right,” Steve says, thinking of the future. “It’s been three years, and nobody’s done anything like it, or even close.”
Unfortunately there’s only 1 tiny image showing the monster 3D model in Project Acland: if you know someone who worked on this lost game who may help us preserve more images, please let us know!
If It Happen is a cancelled horror adventure game that was in development by Fujicom around 2001 – 2002, planned to be released on Dreamcast. As reported by IGN the game was officially announced in Japan in June 2001, and it was mentioned in a few Japanese magazines such as Dorimaga, but soon it vanished with not much ever being shown. In 2021 The Dreamcast Junkyard found a trailer for “If It Happen” hidden as an unlockable video in another Fujicom game titled “Bokomu no Tatsujin”:
“[…] there is a shop in this game that lets you purchase appliances for your home such as a computer, an air conditioner and – most importantly here – a television. Once you eventually pony up the cash for this TV you can view both the Bomber Hehhe and this horror game trailer on it.”
The style of characters and the hotel / mansion shown in this trailer looks similar to other japanese horror adventures such as Clock Tower or D. Unfortunately there are no details about how it would have been played, but we can assume players would have explored the mansion, escaping from evil mannequins (?). Dice covered in blood were somehow part of the story.
If you find something else about If It Happen in other japanese magazines, please let us know!
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