Top 7 Cancelled Horror Games

4. deadlight (xbox, ps2)

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Deadlight isn’t the only horror-on-a-boat title on this list, but it’s the only one that takes cues from the famous memory game “Simon.” Creatures on the abandoned SS Hyperion were weak to different colors of light, and all species were susceptible to the titular “dead light.” This was meant to show an ahead-of-its-time dynamic lighting system. A fifteen minute video of this creative combat existed, but the full game was never meant to be.

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“Captain, this guy’s Ikea desk chair is FUBAR.”

It’s sad, considering this was meant to be the saving grace of UK developer Blue 52. The team was ambitious: like Treyarch planned previously, Blue 52 wanted Deadlight to have zero load time between levels. The developer also created a “food chain” mechanic, where monsters species on the ship would actually hunt each other — a Darwinian concept you could exploit for your own survival. Alas, this horror ship sank.

3. sadness (wii)

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Escort missions in horror games are never fun — something we can mostly blame on babysitting Ashley in Resident Evil 4. But Sadness was something different. In pre-World War I Europe, aristocratic Maria and her blind son Alexander are stranded in the countryside after their train derails. Not much is known about how the gameplay would have picked up from there, but it’s easy to imagine Maria leading her son through dark woods and creepy villages. And there probably would have been a reference to Archduke Franz Ferdinand somewhere in there.

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Now I know where BioShock Infinite got its opening…

What we do know is that the scary elements of Sadness were based on Slavic legends. That means lots of witches, and more than likely the Baba Yaga. I’m not sure if the existing screenshots are in greyscale for artistic purposes, but that style would have added a silent film quality to the whole horrifying adventure.

2. virus (playstation, PC)

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Like Deadlight, Virus was also set on a military ship. Here’s the completely different direction this game took: an alien virus invaded, morphing inanimate objects into deadly insect-like creatures. That’s a helicopter/spider fusion in the screenshot above, and some crazy hybrids like giant wasps with machine guns were also planned. This was an arcade shooter (a physical cabinet was planned) with co-op and six levels across the ship, but unfortunately it sunk before leaving port.

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Does the virus really stand a chance when there’s so much military hardware on board?

It’s tough to find good images of Virus since so few exist; those are magazine scans above. But despite little information, its horror boat premise is a winner — and years before Resident Evil: Revelations, no less. Plus, it’s a fully-loaded military arcade shooter would have been a nice change of pace from a survival horror game with scarce resources.

1. Silent Hills (ps4)

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You knew this was coming. It’s the exception to the no sequel/no major franchise rule because the wound is so fresh and so deep. We got a taste of Silent Hills with P.T., and if that brief experience was any indication, this could have been the resurgence the Silent Hill franchise deserves. The talent behind it was incredible: Metal Gear mastermind Hideo Kojima, terror auteur Guillermo del Toro (who’s on a streak of promising-yet-cancelled projects), and horror mangaka Junji Ito. And let’s not forget Norman Reedus who would have had his first good video game role (his only other was a mediocre spin-off of his Walking Dead success).

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On the plus side, we don’t have to deal with Lisa anymore.

Silent Hills is the most recent entry here, and it certainly stings the most. While the Konami situation is pretty nebulous, one thing is for certain: this game is gone. If only we could run around an ever-looping hallway until we solve an obscure puzzle that unlocks the game we all want.

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Know of another horror game that never saw a full release? Want to give Resident Evil 1.5 some love? Sound off in the comments! And follow me on Twitter if you want to talk spookiness. Resident Evil 4 all day!

8 thoughts on “Top 7 Cancelled Horror Games

  1. Undead Labs could do a great job with the Dead Rush concept. It could easily be a game mode in State of Decay. Deadlight also looks like it could have been fun, but I bet it would be a hard game to make stand out. Other than the obvious #1 choice, I would have absolutely loved to play Sadness. The gloomy, foggy settings and feeling of isolation would have made a great and creepy world to explore.

  2. P.T. Silent Hills will haunt me forever as the most overrated video game experience in the history of the medium. Yes it was announced in a unique way that took people by surprise, especially the gaming press. Sure it had beloved names making it and starring in it. The gameplay of the actual teaser isn’t talked about nearly as much as the intriguing backstory and potential people think it had. A common argument for it I hear is, well the game would’ve been completely diferent, 1. How do you actually know that? 2. Why then would you rate a demo well that is in no way going to be close to the final product.

    Wander aimlessly down a repeating hallway, tapping the same button hoping it triggers the next jump scare or sound effect. Over and over, just mindlessly hoping the damn hallway would change and do anything interesting this time around. You can’t even call these events puzzles, all they require is on certain passes you look and investigate certain objects some of the time without any reason besides the occasional sound cue. Also, a common thing i hear about this “teaser” is people like Dave saying “I played it, I loved it, I used a walk-through then just looked up the ending on Youtube” How is that a good gaming experience? Most people couldn’t even be this mess of an experience without help or just give up to watch it on Youtube due to it being a poorly designed game.

    The story behind the game’s production, announcement and early cancellation have hyped this game unfairly given the awkward stumbling mess that it is. I played it, had friends play it and deleted it off my PS4 before it was removed and we have continued to be stunned at the collective love this game gets. Please try and rate the game on the game itself and not the book that should be written about its footnote in gaming history.

  3. why isn’t the top 7 its own 30 minute podcast? I would love to hear you guys discuss these in more detail roundtable style like the top 5 of VGA or the old top 7 of the Tdar days. I’ve never heard of ANY of these. except PT for obvious reasons. haha

  4. NUMBER ZERO: Castlevania Resurrection on the Dreamcast. Theres about 10 seconds of footage from that game and it don’t look pretty.

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