Little was known about Santa Monica's cancelled game IP, save for the fact that the project would feature a sci-fi open-world for players to explore. After the studio was hit with layoffs in 2014, the game was cancelled. But NerdLeaks.com has given the gaming world a brand new peek into the world of the shelved IP title. And the news is pretty exciting, although slightly bittersweet.
According to a post on February 15th, the site found a lead for the cancelled IP via the portfolio of ex-Santa Monica Game Developer & 3D Concept Designer Erik San Juan. San Juan worked on a variety of Santa Monica games, including God of War, God of War II, God of War III, and the God of War Collection for PS3. He stopped working at Santa Monica in April 2014, two months after the layoffs hit and Santa Monica's former lead level designer, Jonathan Hawkins, confirmed that the studio's unannounced IP was shelved.
While going through San Juan's resume on his official website, NerdLand found that San Juan "provided 2D/3D concept art and models for a new PS4 IP in development which was later cancelled." They were then able to find concept art published online from the game designer, which they refused to repost due to potential copyright infringement concerns. But NerdLand did discover a vast amount of information about what the game would be like, which they shared based on the concept art available.
Here's What We Know
Information about Santa Monica's cancelled IP is limited, but there's still a lot of details available to gleam.
For one, the game was planned to be a futuristic title, set around approximately 2034. It seemed to be about "world exploration," and there was a mission named "Ark Mission Genesis - A.D. 2034" that characters engaged in. Character names sounded like call signs: there was "August," "Donovan," and "NightHorse," just to name a few.
Here's where things get interesting. Strange humanoid creatures, similar to "mutant fishes," inhabited the game world, and they rode a creature that looked like a mix between a bison and a unicorn.
A group of "refugees or mercenaries" featured, there were drones, a kraken-esque creature, and enemies seemed to be some sort of "skeletal monsters with long arms," not unlike dinosaurs. Players could "scan new creatures for information about DNA and Origin," and there were "a lot of uniforms" involved with the game.
Not much else is known, but it's clear that Sony wanted some sort of amazing sci-fi fantasy, or awe-inspiring world for players to explore on the PlayStation 4. Some of the aspects available in the game are similar to Horizon Zero Dawn, including the dinosaur-like creatures, the futuristic vibe, and the focus on world exploration thanks to the PS4's advanced graphical capabilities. The similarities are striking, to say the least.
That said, development began for Horizon Zero Dawn back in 2011, not 2014. So it would be incorrect to suggest Horizon Zero Dawn was the "successor" to the cancelled Santa Monica game. But the games' parallel development might have influenced the decision to cancel Santa Monica's title and downsize the studio.
It's hard to say for certain. But it's always nice to glimpse into the past and see the games that could have been. Besides, who knows? Santa Monica's title could very well be resurrected some day from the grave.
What do you think Santa Monica's cancelled game was about? Share your speculation in the comments below.