The world of video games is full of what ifs and could have beens. What if Nintendo and Sony had teamed up to produce the SNES CD add-on? Imagine what could have been had Sega took its time with Sonic 06. What if Star Fox 2 had never been canceled?
Out of all these thought experiments, the cancelations are the most thought-provoking since a single game, canceled or otherwise, can result in a butterfly effect of good or ill.
Granted, canceled games are occasionally resurrected, such as Level-5’s Ushiro, but more often than not the closest we’ll get to playing these games is viewing in-development trailers and screenshots. Out of all the games that have been canceled, here are 10 we wish had been released.
The Wolf Among Us 2
R.I.P. Telltale Games. You created some memorable narrative titles. Even though your games were kinda repetitive gameplay-wise, you almost always delivered on the storytelling front. There’s a reason why gamers were more sad than mad when you shut your doors, even if you did stiff your ex-employees on severance pay.
Based on Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series, The Wolf Among Us wowed audiences with a detective noir story that tried to answer the question, “What happens after happily ever after?” The game isn’t afraid to put the grim in Grimm’s Fairy Tales and lets players decide if the main character Bigby Wolf was a by the books K9 or a big bad wolf.
The game won acclaim thanks to its story, and it’s a shame we’ll never get to see what Telltale had in store for a sequel, especially since season 2 was originally scheduled for 2018.
Credit where credit is due, Telltale Games tried to reinvent itself in the year before it shuffled off its mortal coil. The studio was going to try some new storytelling methods with its Stranger Things game.
And, even though The Wolf Among Us 2 might not have received the same attention, the game would have likely been fantastic thanks to its pedigree.
Several years before BioWare started producing mediocre titles, it tried dipping its toes into the 4v1 online battle arena pool with Shadow Realms. This game would have set itself apart from similar titles such as Evolve, but even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Developed by BioWare Austin, Shadow Realms would have focused less on story and more on combat, which is a rarity in BioWare games. Shadow Realm’s gameplay sessions would have consisted of four player teams fighting their way through a dungeon or arena. While these players would have confronted plenty of AI enemies and bosses, their most dangerous opponents would have been Shadow Lords, monsters controlled by opposing players who could cast spells, place traps, and directly control other monsters.
While initial reception was lukewarm at best, the development team was seemingly confident it could improve Shadow Realms. Given BioWare Austin is the studio behind Star Wars: The Old Republic, odds are good the Shadow Realms team would have eventually released a stellar title. But, the game was silently shelved after other BioWare employees were less than impressed.
Shadow Realms eventually got a second shot at life as another 4v1 online battle arena titled Breach. The game, developed by a team of ex-BioWare developers (hint hint), was Shadow Realms in everything but name. Same teams of four fighting through dungeons filled with AI enemies; same opposing solo players who could lay down traps and possess monsters, same lukewarm reception.
History repeated itself with Breach, which is a shame since the game’s concept has potential. However, this time the development studio, QC Games, closed its doors when it canceled Breach.
Such a shame; I was really looking forward to Breach when it finally exited Early Access.
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive
The Batman Arkham series is one of the best video game franchises staring a comic book character. Granted, Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight are not as good as Arkham City, but they are solid games. Still, one must wonder what kind of black magic prevents other games staring comic book characters from reaching Arkham’s lofty heights. Probably the same magic that prevented a game based on The Flash from being completed.
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, produced by the now-defunct BottleRocket Entertainment, was designed as an open world game that would let players run/parkour around two large cities and beat up criminals with a combat system almost identical to The Mark of Kri. However, The game’s biggest feature would have been its story.
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive’s story would have chronicled The Flash’s first year of superherodom and would have been overseen by Marv Wolfman, as in Crisis on Infinite Earths Marv Wolfman. Players would have fought some of The Flash’s most iconic villains, seen the legendary Flash Museum built as they progressed, and possibly heard Ryan Reynolds portray the Scarlet Speedster.
Sign. Me. Up.
However, the game’s cancellation is quite the depressing tale since the team at BottleRocket Entertainment did nothing wrong. They blazed past all their deadlines and were working steadily towards the game’s release.
No, The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive was canceled because the management of Brash Entertainment, the company set to publish the game, made numerous bad decisions that led to the company’s closure. And with Brash Entertainment, so went The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.
Konami’s marketing for Silent Hills was a stroke of genius. Release a free playable teaser, or P.T. for short, for a “mystery” horror game. Let the gaming community band together to discover the game’s secrets, allow the final cutscene to speak for itself, and have news spread on word of mouth.
A new entry in the Silent Hill franchise, Silent Hills, would be produced by the collective genius of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro —and star Norman Reedus. Konami didn’t have to spend a dime on marketing save for the development costs of P.T. Simply genius.
The fanfare for Silent Hills was unheard of, and the hype only skyrocketed as time went on. And then Konami canceled the game, shortly before del Toro revealed that famed horror manga artist Junji Ito had been tapped for the project, likely to dream up the game’s nightmare fuel monsters.
Konami has yet to recover from this debacle.
While we will probably never play Silent Hills, its legacy lives on through other, rival projects. P.T.’s first-person perspective likely influenced Resident Evil 7’s similar perspective, as the game’s producer Masachika Kawata apparently “loved” P.T.
Numerous indie projects have cropped up to fill the void left by Silent Hills’ cancellation. Plus, Kojima and Reedus have reunited for the highly anticipated Death Stranding.
Had Konami finished and released Silent Hills, the company would have probably produced a must-play contender for Game of the Year. Sadly, since Silent Hills was canceled, Kojima went and created his own promising, potential Game of the Year contender instead.
For once, the universe has constructed a win-win scenario that benefits horror game fans.
I’m all for reboots and remakes. They let gamers experience old classics without worrying about old graphics and outdated systems that have since been improved.
And the 2017 Prey is one heck of a reboot, even if it has as much to do with the original 2006 Prey as BioShock has to do with System Shock. Then again, the same could have been said about the canceled Prey 2, at least at first glance.
The 2006 Prey is an FPS in the vein of Doom 3 that stars a Native American who defeats a giant, sentient planetoid with the help of his spirit guide. Its sequel, however, would have taken place on an alien planet and featured an unrelated amnesiac protagonist who didn’t want to save the Earth, mostly because he didn’t know what the Earth was.
All he wanted was to make a living as a bounty hunter. Until he met the protagonist from the first Prey.
Even though Prey 2 was canceled, it survives vicariously through the 2017 reboot. Prey 2 would have included an open, explorable world and plenty of side missions, but Prey 2 would have taken place on a sprawling and gritty alien city instead of an art deco space station.
Plus, the game would have featured aliens that aren’t sentient, polymorphic puddles of goo. Deciding between Prey 2 and Prey 2017 is a case of apples versus oranges, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing where Human Head Studio wanted to take the franchise it started.
Star Wars: Battlefront 3 (and 4)
There’s no sugarcoating it: Disney’s decision to give EA the exclusive rights to develop and publish Star Wars games has backfired. After several years, all EA has released is some mobile games and two mediocre FPS games, one of which (temporarily) replaced progression and fun with loot boxes and tedium.
Who wouldn’t want to play the Battlefront games that should have been produced by Free Radical Design?
The original Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, superior to EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2. No microtransactions, just furious Rebels vs. Storm Troopers/Clone Troopers vs. Separatist Droids combat that puts the war in Star Wars.
Battlefront 3 would have been more of the superior same, but when Battlefront 3 got the ax, so did Battlefront 4, a game that would have taken place in a galaxy so far away it’s in a mirror universe.
Free Radical Design had quite the experience in store for Star Wars: Battlefront 4. The game never exited the design phase, but its concept art is beyond promising. A Darth Vader who killed Palpatine, became emperor and ruled the galaxy with Obi-Wan Kenobi as his general and Luke Skywalker as his apprentice.
A Count Dooku, Asajj Ventress, and Darth Maul who abandon their Sith ways to join the Jedi. An evil Mace Windu with a dark purple lightsaber. And, most important of all, not a single loot box in sight.
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun
Square Enix owns more franchises than I can keep track of, including Legacy of Kain. The company occasionally pays lip service to the series, mostly through Lara Croft/Tomb Raider DLC and Easter eggs, but it hasn’t done much with the Legacy of Kain series proper save the short-lived multiplayer arena shooter Nosgoth.
But did you know that game was the recovered remains of a failed attempt to bring Legacy of Kain to modern consoles?
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was meant to be a soft reboot of the franchise. All of the backstory and lore longtime fans love presented in a way that is approachable to newcomers.
Gone were longtime deuteragonists Raziel and Kain. Instead, players would have controlled a new vampire as they explored the world, gained new abilities, and ripped open throats and rifts between dimensions.
Dead Sun was an attempt to infuse the Legacy of Kain franchise with the new blood of modern gaming sensibilities, specifically a vast open world, fluid combat, and collectibles. But, for some reason, the game was canceled and its multiplayer component salvaged into Nosgoth.
Given the immortality of the Legacy of Kain games compared to the tiny lifespan of Nosgoth, I can’t help but think that Square Enix chose poorly. Perhaps one day we’ll get that actual Legacy of Kain remake/reboot we deserve, but until then, all I can do is just wish Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun had never been canceled.
Full disclosure: I love the Avengers films. I have yet to see an Avengers movie that didn’t blow me away, which makes me pine for a quality Avengers game (the Lego Avengers game notwithstanding). I know Square Enix is working on its own Avengers title, but I still wish a spectacular Avengers video game had been released alongside the first movie. We almost received one.
Two years before Avengers hit theaters, THQ started a movie tie-in project, albeit one that followed a different continuity. Instead of the Avengers taking on an army of Chitauri led by Loki, this game would have pitted the Avengers against the Skrulls.
Unlike their portrayal in Captain Marvel, these would have been the evil Skrulls longtime Marvel fans know. The game’s title might have read Avengers, but the story would have been Secret Invasion.
To set the game apart from titles like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, THQ designed its Avengers game as a first-person shooter/puncher with an emphasis on co-op. Players would have been encouraged to use special skills that left enemies open to other players, as well as buff allies with certain abilities.
Much like The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, THQ’s Avengers game was canceled due to problems that were out of the developers’ hands, not a lack of quality. THQ made numerous mistakes during its last few years, and the company was forced to cancel some in development projects to stay afloat. Avengers was one of those projects.
The team behind the Avengers game wasn’t about to give up, though. They tried to find a new publisher in Marvel Entertainment, but you can guess how that went. Still, here’s hoping Square Enix’s secret Avengers project is actually a revival of this unfortunately canceled gem.
Oh, Bethesda, how the mighty have fallen. Fallout 4 isn’t the best Fallout game, but it’s still better than Fallout 76. Really makes you pine for the Fallout MMORPG we almost got.
Before Bethesda purchased the rights to Fallout, the original publisher of the Fallout franchise, Interplay, collaborated with Masthead Studios to develop a Fallout MMO simply titled Fallout Online.
The companies didn’t get far into production, but according to what little information there is, the game would have been a third-person title with 65,500 square miles of game world, item crafting, player-run towns, and playable Ghouls and Super Mutants.
Plus, Chris Taylor and Mark O’Green, two of the creators of the original Fallout, were involved in the project, so you know Fallout Online’s story would have been to die for.
Judging by what was planned, Fallout Online could have combined World of Warcraft’s polish with Star Wars Galaxies’ player freedom pre-New Game Enhancements. The game could easily have been a major contender in the MMO market, but we’ll never know for sure.
Kid Icarus for the Wii
After a long hibernation, Kid Icarus was back on gamers’ radars after Pit flew into Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Rumors swirled about a new Kid Icarus game, but nothing ever surfaced for the Wii or Wii U. Gamers eventually received the spectacular Kid Icarus Uprising, but does that mean the rumors were fake?
No, Pit was indeed supposed to star in his own standalone —and canceled— Wii game.
Kid Icarus for the Wii (the title was never finalized) would have been developed by Factor 5, the studio behind the Star Wars Rogue Squadron franchise. The company wanted to create an arcade flight shooter that would have featured a mature story staring a mature Pit.
Given Factor 5’s expertise in the arcade flight shooter genre, Kid Icarus for the Wii could have been the Metroid Prime to Kid Icarus’ Metroid in the best way possible, but Factor 5 might have flown a little too close to the sun with their ideas.
As is the case with many canceled games, Kid Icarus for the Wii was canceled because the publisher, in this case, Nintendo, didn’t like their pitch, probably because of its mature, semi-edgy direction.
Far be it from me to question the wisdom of Nintendo, but had they said yes, Factor 5’s Kid Icarus title would likely have been a spectacular flight combat game, something to wash the taste of Factor 5’s disastrous PlayStation 3 exclusive Lair out of our mouths.
Then again, Nintendo went on to produce its own amazing Kid Icarus game, probably because it said no to Factor 5’s proposal. Yet again, the universe conspired to give gamers a win-win scenario.