Survival Horror

Jacks of Evil [PC – Cancelled]

Jacks of Evil is a cancelled horror FPS which was in development between 2003 and 2004 at Fear Studios. Unfortunately, little information is known about this game and the team behind it. It was planned to come out in July 2005, but the exact period and reason for its cancellation remain undetermined.

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As stated by a developer in an old interview on GenGamers, the backstory was as following:

“You’re working in secret organization, that opposite Dark Forces. It’s name is “Jacks Of Evil”. People in this organization call each other as “hunters”. Killing creatures of Dark Forces, such as Demons, Vampires, Zombies etc – is their usual work. You are a professional hunter. Your name is Aleksey Gromov. Once our hero is sent to Shanta city in Siberia. It seemed to be usual work, but… something went wrong. It seems that happened we all were aware of. People and Evil cooperated to help each other.“

The Studio also described some ideas they planned to implement in their canned FPS, such as slow-motion effects with motion blur and a damage system. Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, and Demons were some of the classic enemies players would have to hunt down during the game, giving it some recognizable characters in the horror genre. More ambitious concepts and mechanics were also considered by the team:

“It’s planned to make a game scenario with key scenes, that can be generated randomly. I.e. you are walking through the room and then suddenly you’re attacked by a Vampire. Youīre losing the battle, then loading your save-game, walking to this place and … there is no vampire! And of course there will be different story lines. Probably there will be 3-4 different endings. I think that’s enough for such games.“

Fear Studios also wanted to implement a multiplayer mode, featuring mod-support (to be available soon after the game would‘ve come out) to bring even more variety to the game. 

In the end we can speculate the team did not find a publisher for their project and Jacks of Evil was quietly canned.

Article by Vipaah, thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Nightfall (Core Design) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Around 2002 Core Design had already completed a few games for PlayStation 2, such as Project Eden and Thunderhawk, both released in 2001, and they were going to complete Herdy Gerdy, an action / strategy puzzle game. During this time they were also working on a cancelled survival / action horror game titled Nightfall, of which unfortunately there is limited information available.

Former Core Design developers we talked to, remember that Nightfall was going to be a game about surviving in an island overrun by werewolves, after the main character crashed there in a helicopter. It seems that before Nightfall the team tried to pitch a videogame adaption of the Preacher comic to Vertigo / DC Comics, but that was soon canned so they tried to develop their concept into a new, original IP. It’s possible that the idea about a Preacher video game was conceived during the same time in which independent filmmaking studios Storm Entertainment and Electric Entertainment announced the pre-production of a Preacher movie, but after a while the film was pushed back (and never realized) because of financial issues.

People that were able to see an early Nightfall prototype remember that it looked great for a PS2 title, but not much work was done on it before the cancellation. After Nightfall was cancelled, Core Design developed such titles as Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Smart Bomb and the cancelled Fighting Force 3, until they were sold from Eidos to Rebellion Developments Ltd.

We hope to be able to preserve more info about Nightfall Unseen64 in the future, but for now it remains one of the most interesting and obscure lost games, by one of the most important software houses from the late ‘90s.

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Cleric (Plutonium Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Cleric is a cancelled game that was in development for PC by Texas based studio Plutonium Games, and from what we have found, this could have been a quite unique and interesting project. It was a First Person Survival Horror (game) mixed with puzzle elements, action and role playing.

There were plans to release it around the month of December in 2003 but that didn’t happen. On April 14 in 2004  it was announced it was put on indefinite hiatus or cancelled altogether according to a post on the main website of Plutonium Games. There were hints that they had difficulties finding a publisher for their game:

“After a long trip, it looks as if Cleric may not be made for a long time to come, if ever. I want to thank everyone that has supported us over the years. This site will remain up as will the forums. I have recently (3 months ago) taken a job with another studio (Destineer Studios) as a 3D Artist on their tactical shooter project “Close Combat – Marines: First to Fight“. Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road, I’ll get the opportunity to start Plutonium Games back up again. Until then, I’ll be building up my portfolio & experience with Destineer. Thanks again for all the great support!”

The website isn’t up anymore, and no more information can be found about Plutonium Games anywhere on the internet, so we assume the company no longer exists.

As for more information pertaining to how the game would have turned out, here’s a brief story and design summary. Cleric’s story is set in 16th century Russia and the dead are walking again. Women are disappearing and it is up to Reverend Father Aronos Schuler (the main character of the game) to investigate this mystery and to put an end to the plight of the undead. What was interesting is regardless of his position, he was meant to be a character of little faith and the story would have developed around the mystery of the undead of course but also of the Reverend’s internal struggles. Multiple path scenarios were considered with multiple endings as well depending on the player’s actions throughout the game.

Players would have had 2 different holy symbols to use for their main weapons. These would have given a series of different abilities like flying, sensing danger, re-animating the dead, healing and summoning, to list a few. Some traditional weapons like swords, maces and old muskets would have also been weapons the Reverend could find during his travels. Fore more story and gameplay details, you can check an old Gamespot preview and their image gallery.

Judging from the video, you can tell the focus wasn’t exactly just about shooting since the musket would need reloading after every shot. You have a symbol that repels the undead used like a holy cross and if held long enough, they start to catch fire. It seems the mission was to escort a woman to a shelter whilst protecting her from the undead. Later in the video the reverend approaches a statue and acquires a miracle power that lets him summon lightning to strike the undead!

Lastly, for the last bit of information we have for Cleric, there’s a very interesting interview with CEO/Lead Designer Matthew Doyle of Plutonium Games.

If Cleric had not been cancelled, we believe it could have been remembered as quite the cult classic of its time.

Article by Alex Bérubé

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Justice for Hire (Midway) [Playstation – Cancelled]

Justice for Hire is a cancelled action adventure / survival horror game that was in development by Big Ape Productions, planned to be published by Midway for the original Playstation. BAP was a small studio based in Novato (CA), that worked on such games as Herc’s Adventures, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, The Simpsons Wrestling and Celebrity Deathmatch. Sometime in late ’90s – early ’00s they got hired by Midway to develop Justice for Hire, but the project was never officially announced and there are no details about how it would have been played.

Only a few screenshots are saved in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost game. Justice for Hire featured pre-rendered backgrounds and was set in a modern-day city, exploring worn-down apartments and basements. We can speculate the game could have been similar to Resident Evil or Fear Effect.

In 2003 Big Ape Productions closed down, after most of their projects did not sell as expected by publishers. We tried many times to get in contact with former BAP developers, but with no luck. If you know someone who worked on Justice for Hire and could help us to preserve more details about the game, please let us know!

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Black Death (Darkworks) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Black Death is a cancelled FPS / Survival Horror game somehow similar to Condemned and Dead Island, in development by Darkworks around 2011. Darkworks was an independent French studio not widely known by the average gamer, but they released a couple of fan favorite games as Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (Playstation, Dreamcast and PC) and Cold Fear (PS2, PC and Xbox). Black Death was announced in June 2011, as the team tried to get attention from publishers to find money and resources to fully develop their idea. This was the last project they tried to pitch before closing down after a series of unfortunate failed projects, such as their Onechanbara reboot, State of Crisis and The Deep.

After Ubisoft took away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to complete it under Ubisoft Shanghai, the team worked on many different prototypes. We can assume at the time the team tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (such as Black Death) with interesting / original features.

Some more details about Black Death were published in the (now removed) official website:

What is Black Death? Black Death is a new survival horror from Darkworks. Black Death is the personification of the fear generated by the recent pandemics and the mistrust which has been associated to their supposed origins (natural apocalypse, scientific, industrial, or military ones… or else… ).  Our goal with Black Death is to go one step further by focusing the game on three essential elements: speed, fluidity and freedom of action, to offer the player a sensation of freedom and the possibility to create his own arsenal.

Pitch: Today, The  American North East coast, a city is suddenly hit by a massive cloud of smoke. Mysterious swirls of this black smoke appear and infect everybody. This new disease is spreading all over the city making it a place full of sick people sunk into a comatose state. As they mutate into strange creatures with various powers and group behaviours, they start to become violent and invade the whole city. The player is a survivor who will try to stay alive and wipe out this scourge from the city.

Gameplay Experience: THE FOG PLAYS WITH YOU, PLAY WITH THE FOG
Survive in the fog
Be Creative: Create your own chemical weapons and test them on your enemies
Cure or kill infected you meet and choose your fighting strategy
Spectacular: Have fun discovering a unique bestiary, and experiment with multiple weapons and devices
Fight: Fast action, it’s difficult to kill, you must finish on contact
Control the fog
Discover the black death evolution

A playable demo / prototype for Black Death was also released in July 2011, but it failed to gain much interest from gamers and publishers. With no more money to keep working on their projects, in October 2011 the studio was placed into Compulsory liquidation and was closed. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games, while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to different developers. There are already a good number of interesting lost Darkworks games in the Unseen64 archive, but many more still remain unseen and even if we tried multiple times to get in contact with people that worked at the studio, it seems almost impossible to know more about what happened to them or to their cancelled games.

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