In the world of video games, there are often times when horror games enter ‘development hell’ or are simply canceled for seemingly no good reason. Many of these canceled games result from bad management, insufficient funds, publishers having the final say on projects, or studios taking on projects more extensive than they can handle.
But while these games may be lost in time, it’s still nice to take a look back at what could have been and to learn from the mistakes that developers and publishers have made. Luckily, many demos and concept art for these projects remain so that they may inspire future developers and serve as warnings.
10/10 Russian Retro Sci-Fi Horror Project
From the creative mind of Masashiro Ito, the art director and monster artist for the original Silent Hill games, comes a horror project only known as Russian Retro Sci-Fi Horror Project. If it wasn’t clear by the game’s name, it never got out of the concept stage and was canceled before it began.
The only remaining evidence of its existence is the concept art created by Masashiro Ito that he released nearly seven years later, in 2017, after Sony Entertainment Japan dropped it.
Guillermo del Toro, a movie director well known for making Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and more famously, Pacific Rim, was teamed up with Volition to make a horror game called inSANE. Unfortunately, there is no information out there about the game except for a 30-second trailer with just the logo on it, and what we know from Guillermo del Toro himself.
According to the director, the game was supposed to make you question your morality, as everything you did would have a subsequent effect on you and your environment. But, this would never see the light of day because the project was canceled three years later in 2013. Rumors are that THQ, the publishers behind Volition, ran out of funding. This can be seen later as they filed for bankruptcy five months after it was confirmed to be canceled.
8/10 Silent Hills (P.T.)
The most famously canceled horror game straight from the mind of Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro is Silent Hills, also commonly known as P.T. (Playable Teaser). It was first announced in 2014 with the now widely celebrated game demo, P.T. It was available for everyone to play for free on the PlayStation store, until Konami removed it due to Kojima and Konami separating.
Following this, petitions were signed, and interviews with Kojima and Konami were conducted to understand what happened, but to no avail. For years a new Silent Hill was just thought of as a lost opportunity until October 2022 when Konami announced a Silent Hill 2 remake and a new Silent Hill game titled Silent Hill f.
Development hell can be a challenging time for developers and fans as they watch a game with promise be destroyed. One such case was Sadness, a psychological horror game focusing on paranoia and narcolepsy, which ‘started’ being developed for the Nintendo Wii in 2006, and was set to launch in 2009-2010.
However, as the days went by, there was no sign from the studio, Nibris, that any work was being done on the game. Deadlines weren’t being met, and not even concept art was released to the public. Eventually, it was confirmed in early 2010 that the game was officially canceled, with only a finished soundtrack resulting from it.
6/10 Come Midnight
After their success with Painkiller, the studio People Can Fly decided to start developing a film noir detective survival-horror game. Development of the game was going fine, with many fans and the developers excited about the game they had already thoroughly planned out. But suddenly, THQ devastatingly canceled it.
According to People Can Fly, the reason behind the cancelation was that THQ simply had too many games to deal with at the time. So, despite their promise of helping People Can Fly, they decided to nullify the agreement and drop them from everything, almost leading them to bankruptcy. Luckily, they recovered with the help of Epic Games. Nearly fifteen years later, there have been rumors of People Can Fly picking up the project again.
Whether or not Tangiers, a Lynch-inspired stealth game, is canceled or simply heavily past schedule is up for debate, as the game has been in silent development since its conception in 2013. Initially scheduled for a release in 2014 and then pushed back to 2015, it has gone nearly silent, with all socials either deleted or inactive except for one, Kickstarter.
On Kickstarter, infrequent updates by the developer are still being made, often explaining several details coming to the game or are currently in progress. Even though Tangiers has been going on for ten years, there are no signs of it stopping any time soon. However, when it releases is uncertain, and there’s still no playable demo.
4/10 Redwood Falls
Redwood Falls was an FPS survival-horror video game intended to fully utilize everything that the new Unreal Engine 3 had to offer. Because of this and a demo quickly being made available, it was greenlit for further development and was an impressive start for the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era.
However, soon after, the game was confirmed as canceled due to the developer, Kuju Entertainment, being bought by a new company. The new buyers decided that they didn’t have the time or skill necessary to further the project, so they dropped it, leaving fans with the concept art and video of the demo.
3/10 Dead Unity
Only a little is known or understood about Dead Unity, a game developed by Aramat Productions and intended for the original PlayStation. However, from what is known, it would have been a sci-fi survival horror game inspired by the recent success of Resident Evil that wanted to get away from zombies.
Unfortunately, it was canceled not long after by publisher THQ, who silently swept the game under the rug without a trace. All that remains is the original trailer for the game, which features a blank protagonist fighting robots in a spaceship, a futuristic hotel, a catwalk, and a bunch of abandoned areas with rock music in the background.
2/10 Legions Of Fear
Legions Of Fear was a point-and-click adventure survival horror game for the PC and PlayStation 2 in 2002. The developer at the time, Delphine Software, was facing bankruptcy and needed a publisher to fund them. This led to a PC demo being made for Legions Of Fear, which eventually attracted Sony.
However, due to a lack of funding and simply taking on too many projects for a small game development studio, Delphine Software went bankrupt, leaving six projects unfinished. The only remaining pieces of its existence are the two videos of the demo on YouTube and two ex-employees taking the time to talk about its cancelation thirteen years later.
1/10 If It Happen
The most surprising thing from the Dreamcast era of canceled video games is an unknown horror adventure game If It Happen. It was set to launch in 2001-2002, almost half a year after the Dreamcast was discontinued. The world only discovered it as recently as 2021 in another game called Bokomu no Tatsujin.
We know little to nothing about the game except for the discovered trailer, which shows a low-poly man running around a mansion with random images like dice, mannequins, a graveyard, and a car that explain nothing. What we can assume, however, is that it looks inspired by Resident Evil, shown by the creaky doors and layout of the mansion.