Come Midnight [Xbox 360 / PS3 – Cancelled]

Come Midnight was a game in development at People Can Fly from 2004 to 2006 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, with an intended release date of 2007. With a genre that is hard to define, according to the developer’s former leader Adrian Chmielarz, the game would have been a mixture of Adventure, Action and Survival Horror with heavy 1940’s noir and supernatural themes, something akin to a mixture of later games such as L.A. Noire and Uncharted.


The idea behind Come Midnight, a “dream project” for Chmielarz, was born right after development on the First Person Shooter Painkiller ended. Painkiller had been successful, but because of contractual details it had brought little money into People Can Fly. According to Chmielarz:

“Painkiller didn’t make us rich. It was made for a flat fee, an embarrassingly low one compared to what a production of this quality usually costs. We never saw any royalties, despite the game’s success and countless sequels and remakes. But we did manage to save some money. (…) So we moved to a new place, and started working on a new project.”

He goes on to reveal some details:

“An action-adventure pulp that mixed the worlds of Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft. A story about a private detective able to communicate with the dead. (…) After a few months, we thought we had enough material to start shopping the game around.”

The game would focus on a private investigator named Mike Elroy, who had temporarily died at some point and managed to come back – this time with the ability to see into the afterlife, with a major mechanic of the game being the ability to see the last few seconds of someone’s life by touching their corpse.


In 2004 People Can Fly put together a tech demo for Come Midnight, and invited all the major publishers to their studio in Poland to take a look at what they had been working on. Most of the reactions seemed to be positive at the time but after this showing, the studio waited in vain for a call from at least one of the publishers:

“Nobody was getting back to us. We were running out of money, and it was time to panic.”

There was a deeper meaning behind this silence, as the studio learned later on that everyone seemed to expect an encore of Painkiller out of People Can Fly, and were too afraid of betting on such a unique project at that point in time. Unfortunately, Come Midnight had to be put aside in favor of the studio’s survival.

“Through the grapevine we learned that even though people liked the game, they were scared of investing into an action-adventure, and, more importantly, they expected a shooter from us. Come Midnight was dead.”

Disillusioned, and to keep afloat, People Can Fly started work on a shooter called “Ravenwolf”, another title that would end up never seeing the light of day. It was somewhat of a spiritual successor to Painkiller and with a heavier emphasis on the storyline than its predecessor. The studio put together a demo for the game in a few short months, and sent it out to publishers. People Can Fly was back in business:

“We worked our asses off on a demo for a couple of months, and sent it out. The phones started ringing. Ravenwolf was about to happen, the studio was about to be saved.”

But during the development of Ravenwolf, something unexpected happened. While the guys from People Can Fly were at a convention, they were suddenly approached by a man who introduced himself as a representative from THQ and claimed he had been wanting to contact the studio. They asked if it had something to do with their current project, but the reply was about to fill the small Polish studio with hope for a better one: THQ wanted to make Come Midnight.


The studio was reinvigorated, and for the next two years worked harder than ever. By 2006, the game was well into production, with the whole game designed on paper, and a lot of the assets completed. Chmielarz claims that in about two years’ time, Come Midnight would have been finished.

However, THQ had other plans. In 2006, the publisher simply pulled the plug on the project, and apparently cut all contact with People Can Fly. Although an official reason has never been given, Adrian Chmielarz believes that it had something to do with the company pulling out of development in Europe and wanting only one project left for release from that territory.

“Rumour was that THQ was getting out of the development in Europe and they were killing European projects left and right. Supposedly, it was between us and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. They chose the latter, and, to be fair, that was probably the right choice. Still, they acted awful throughout the whole ordeal.”

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow Of Chernobyl, developed by the Ukranian company GSC Game World, was almost completed, while Come Midnight was only a third of the way in development, and eventually saw a release in 2007 after being in development hell for over half a decade.

The cancelation of Come Midnight left People Can Fly in a bad financial situation. Now with no game left to work on and with little money left, they acquired a license to the Unreal Engine hoping to recapture their Painkiller magic with a new shooter. The prototype that followed impressed Epic Games themselves, who bought a majority share of the company in 2007 and eventually fully acquired it in 2012, and the prototype would go on to evolve into 2013’s Bulletstorm.

After being rebranded as Epic Games Poland from 2013 onwards, People Can Fly split from Epic Games and became an independent studio once again in 2015, after which they started work on Outriders, a First Person Shooter to be published by Square Enix in 2020.

Adrian Chmielarz had left Polish developer he co-founded by the time Bulletstorm was released. He formed his own studio, The Astronauts, with some of the former developers on Come Midnight and still hopes to revisit the noir stylings of their cancelled project one day.

However, the rights to the game are now owned by THQ Nordic, the new name Nordic Games adopted when they acquired most of THQ’s properties after the company’s bankrupcy, and getting the Come Midnight name back at this point in time seems unlikely.

“Realistically, it’s never gonna happen. I still want to go back to pulp noir in the future, though, but that’s a whole different story for another time.”

Article by thecursebearer



The Mask [SNES – Beta]

The Mask is a platform game (based on the film with the same name) developed by Black Pearl Software and published in 1995 by THQ for the Super Nintendo. Early in its development, the game was much different from the final version, as noticed by Mister Syd on the Lost Levels Forum:

Health meter is a series of facial expressions, while the health meter is numerical in actual game.

The Mask’s sprite is completely different in shape, color and design, almost as if this build was completely dismissed and recreated from the ground up.

Visually, I find this the most interesting because it looked like it was going to play more like a brawler than the platformer it turned out to be.

All of the screenshots’ backgrounds are not used anywhere in the final version of the game.

Unused abilities; The Mask has no low-kick, or a (strange-looking) gun that fires projectiles in the game and the mallet is a different color (and pose) but the tornado’s design might of been used in the game.

Some of the enemies in the screen shots I think are actually still in the game, but could be edited a bit in the release; the man with the gun by the bank vault is likely not in the final release though.

The Mask was also planned for the Genesis / Mega Drive, but this version was never released.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! (scan from EGM #61)


Akira [SNES MegaDrive/Genesis – Cancelled]

Rod_Wod from the Assembler Forum has posted various scans from the cancelled Akira games (based on the manga / anime with the same name) that were meant to be released by THQ for the Genesis / Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Mega CD and Game Gear. Probably the screens published in the magazines were all from the same version, as the graphic looks almost the same for all the various consoles. Some more screens were found by Celine in Player One #44, Console Plus #44 and #35. Thanks to Sketcz from the Hardcore Gaming 101 blog for the other scans!

From an interview at Hardcore Gaming 101 we can read a lot of interesting info about the development of these unreleased Akira games:

“It was not so much cancelled or scrapped as it fell into neglect. Larry transferred rights to THQ and we couldn’t get clear agreement on the game elements with the project manager. They didn’t understand the limitations of the SNES. The project was then victim to a number of disasters including the lead programmer leaving, and other work being more pressing.”

A short video from the game was recorded at CES in summer 1994, you can see it below (it looks like the game crashes / freeze at some point). Thanks to Brian for the link to the video!


Akira SNES



De Blob [Wii – Beta]

De Blob is platform-puzzle game developed by Blue Tongue and published by THQ in 2008. The game was originally developed as a free downloadable game for the Windows PC by students of Game Design & Development and Game and Media Technology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

THQ noticed the game and was very impressed with the team’s work, acquired the rights and handed over the project to Blue Tongue Entertainment to develope the Wii version. [Info from Wikipedia]

MrRetroGamer96 found a video of an alpha/ near beta version of De Blob from E3 2007:  the hud is entirely different, and the other heroes besides De Blob are not the same. Billboards all have the same image in this version, wheras in the final game they are diverse in the image that shows up on them.



The Crucible: Evil Within (The Box/The Ritualyst) [Cancelled – PS3/Xbox 360]

The Crucible: Evil Within, AKA “The Box” or “The Ritualyst” originally was a Silicon Knights-developed (developer of Eternal Darkness and Too Human) open-world horror pitch for PS3 started in 2004, which was accepted for full production by Sega in March 2005.

“Silicon Knights has a rich history of developing great games that push hardware technology, so we expect this relationship will result in a powerful, new, and highly commercial franchise.”
Simon Jeffery, President and COO, SEGA of America

In 2006, Sega revealed some game details in an online survey. Until then, the game was internally known as “The Box”. The survey however led to “The Crucible: Evil Within”. Later, however, it was renamed to “The Ritualist” instead.

“An open free-roaming action horror game where the player undertakes a terrorizing journey of suspense, fear, power and discovery, and where every decision has multiple consequences… Uncover an ancient chest with unimaginable power that seduces you into evil, sin and corruption.”

Court documents from Silicon Knights’ legal battle with Epic Games reveal that The Box was initially planned to be finished by February 27th, 2007. It was later amended to extend the delivery date to November 4th, 2008. In August 2008, Sega decided to cancel various external projects, including Aliens RPG: Crucible, Aliens: Colonial Marines (later restarted), Cipher Complex, and The Box. However, Silicon Knights was able to find a new publisher with THQ, which also dropped the project in early 2009. As a kind of compensation, team members of The Box were asked to help on Vigil Games’/THQ’s Darksiders.

Thanks to Daniel Nicaise for the contribution!