Survival Horror

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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Project Carbondale (Sega) [Xbox, PS2 – Cancelled]

Project Carbondale is a cancelled survival horror game that was being development by SEGA in 2003 for Xbox and Playstation 2. While the game was never officially announced, the public found out about its development thanks to a few articles published online by various websites, including The Southern Illinoisan, in which they wrote about Sega employees exploring the city of Carbondale (Illinois) to take inspiration and capture reference for the project.

“CARBONDALE – Aliens have landed in Carbondale and they are killing anything that moves. Your natural instinct is to flee, but a severe mid-winter blizzard has cut off all hopes of escape. Quick! Grab a gun, a sledgehammer, a scythe, any weapon you can get your hands on. Your only hope for survival is to stand your ground and fight – in the mall, the old Carbondale high school, city hall, even the sewer system if you have to. This is a fight to the death and it’s going to be bloody.

The battle isn’t real, though. It’s one of the biggest video game releases of 2004 being developed by Sega. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, will be fighting to save Carbondale from alien beasties next year. “Initially Sega said ‘We want to place this game in a small town,'” said Cord Smith, product manager for Sega of America. “Initially they said an East Coast town, but they just wanted something that wasn’t the West Coast. (The Japanese game designers) are familiar with San Francisco and California culture, but to them, that’s not America. America is what’s between the two coasts.”

carbondale sega game cancelled

Smith is now spending nine days leading a team of eight game designers from Tokyo around key Carbondale locations, including University Mall, the old high school central campus, the police station, city hall, water treatment plant, local homes and apartments, and yes, even the sewer system. “They’re soaking all this in, with the biggest smiles on their faces,” Smith said. “They keep saying this is kind of what they imagined, but they’re blown away that everyone has a yard, everything’s beautiful, everything’s so lush and green.”

The game’s designer, Shinichi Ogasawara, says bringing the design team all the way from Tokyo to see the Midwest for themselves is the best way to create a realistic small-town environment. The team is shooting digital videotape and still photographs that will be used to provide the textures of the games’ three-dimensional environment. Some team members photographed close-ups of anything that could be interactive, such as light switches and the weights used by Carbondale firefighters. Other team members photographed walls, ceilings, floors and artwork hanging on walls.”

Shinichi Ogasawara had previously worked on many different light gun arcade games, such as “Gunblade NY: Special Air Assault Force”, “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “The Maze of the Kings”, but it seems this would have been his first console project.

At the time, Cord Smith was resigning from SEGA and about to join Ubisoft, but his sister was the acting City Attorney of Carbondale, and – through her many city contacts – he was able to grant unlimited access to many locations that could have been used in the game: the abandoned high school, hospital, shopping mall, fire station, police station (and armory and shooting range), water treatment plant, and even the underground waterways & sewer system. The team met in Illinois and toured together for multiple days at the various sites.

carbondale-sega-game-cancelled-3

As far as we were able to gather, Carbondale was being developed for Playstation 2 and Xbox, but at that time, many devs were also looking into next-gen tech. We were told that the early prototype of Carbondale seemed to be on the PS2. Unfortunately it appears that this early prototype simply wasn’t of high enough quality to receive the green-light for its next milestone, but there is not enough info available to know exactly what happened to the game, and additional details about its gameplay mechanics are scarce.

It seems that the game was meant to be a traditional survival horror with moments of more “bombastic action”, potentially through the invasion of alien enemies. People who talked with Ogasawara at the time got the sense that they wanted it to be SEGA’s answer to the Resident Evil franchise, featuring a much more realistic Western setting (hence the research), but also SEGA’s leanings towards action and arcade-like fun factor.

We were able to exchange a few emails with Cord, who shared a few memories about this lost game and their Carbondale exploration:

“One of my favorite locations was an abandoned high school. The city had built a new one and left the old in an eerie state, with lots of books, equipment, and other items left behind. We visited it at night, so it was as if a apocalyptic event had occurred and everyone evacuated in a hurry. In other words: perfect video game reference.

The mirrors behind the theater stage still had cosmetics nearby, the cafeteria had trays out on the tables, and textbooks were strewn about the classrooms. We split up into two teams, each with cameras and flashlights, and in one area I found a CPR dummy, which amounted to a dressed male mannequin torso. Without hesitation, I took it and returned to the main stairway near the school’s foyer. I could see the other team’s flashlights scanning the walls along the distant hallway, and faked a scream before sliding the torso along the floor towards them. As the seemingly severed body moved into the beams of their flashlights, the school erupted with the other groups’ terrified screams. And we laughed, and laughed. So much fun!”

We hope to be able to preserve more details and footage from the game in the future.

Thanks a lot to Mortimer for the contribution!

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