After having a relatively uneventful and rather pleasant Friday the 13th, disaster finally reared it's ugly head. It is days like this that I question the ways in which the gaming industry works. Games with ever declining critical scores are constantly green lit for sequels while the most imaginative and inspirational projects get canned before ever seeing the light of day. The question that I ask myself today is:
"How does one cancel a fresh new take on one of this generations most popular IP?"
It was revealed today that Warner Bros. pulled the plug on a new entry in the popular Batman frachise. The news came in the form of screen shots used by talented UI/HUD designer, Julie Farrell. While little is known outside of the details that were divulged on her portfolio website, what I can tell you is that this is some of the worst news I've heard all year (ahem... or in the past year). It is unclear as to whether this title was canned before or after clearing the conceptual stage of development but this is what we know:
- The game was entitled "Batman: Gotham by Gaslight" and was in development at Day 1 Studios, the team behind the Mechwarrior franchise and last year's FEAR 3.
- Gotham by Gaslight was to be based after the 1989 comic book one-shot of the same name, in which Bruce Wayne/Batman took up arms against Jack the Ripper in a steam-punk inspired take on Gotham City.
- The Steampunk element seems to permeate the design work in Julia's portfolio, suggesting that the game might have taken major influence from the popular counter culture of modern day.
- This really sucks.
All I can say is that despite the wavering faith that I have in Day 1 Studios, they are capable of producing well made and ambitious action titles. FEAR 3 wasn't very good but the ghost aspect of the game was nothing if not ambitious. With the insanely popular Dark Knight films and the multi-million seller games from Rocksteady, it is hard to fathom what they were thinking by cancelling such a unique concept. Unfortunately, the only assumptions I can draw is that Warner Bros either wasn't pleased with the direction or the gameplay or they didn't want cannabalize the sales of the inevitable sequel to Arkham City.
I hope Warner Bros. has some other exciting plans for this franchise other than a mere cookie cutter sequel to the Arkham franchise. Only time will tell but I will hold out hope that the fan outcry will pressure them into reopening the project or inspire a different developer to bid and bring it back from the dead.
In the meantime, all we can do is add this to the long, sad list of games that may never be and enjoy these few art pieces while we weep.