Obsidian is opening up about it’s canceled Alien role-playing game and describes the title as Mass Effect meets horror. Aliens: Crucible was set to be a third-person RPG that sent a doomed group of survivors into a Xenomorph-infested space colony.
As far back to 1972’s Atari 2600 Alien, the long-running horror franchise has branched out from the movie series of the same name. By contrast, Mass Effect was first released in 2007 and largely follows soldiers trying to rid the galaxy of a powerful race of powerful beings. Together, both worlds sound like they could've combined to make the perfect Alien game and pay homage to James Cameron's Aliens from 1986.
Speaking to VG24/7, Obsidian co-founder Chris Avellone shed some light on the mysterious project and what Aliens: Crucible would've included. He explained that it was "basically Mass Effect but more terrifying" and that the goal was to give gamers a unique experience:
“We wanted to make it. But by that point Sega, I think, was… the publisher/management relations had gotten to a point where they were just tired of dealing with [Obsidian]. Everyone working on Aliens: Crucible was really excited about it. It was shaping up to be a really cool game. The prototype was really cool. But then Sega’s like ‘nope!’”
While Avellone is candid about what happened between Obsidian and Sega, he said fans shouldn't blame Sega for the collapse of Aliens: Crucible. Instead, he laments about what could've been. He hyped up the idea of keeping the fear going, which is a mechanic players have seen in later Alien games:
“The biggest challenge we had was how to keep the fear going even in conversations. You can make conversations stressful and frightening. How do you do it so that an alien could be attacking you at any moment? You can’t take shelter in a conversation with two talking heads while you try to figure out what to do.”
Around the announcement of Rebellion Developments' Aliens vs. Predator in 2009, Sega shelved Aliens: Crucible without much explanation. It's thought that the game was well into development, with plenty of footage and screenshots to prove this. Ironically, the idea of people being marooned on a strange planet and coming across a cavernous installation was also the plot of Ridley Scott's Prometheus. Avellone admitted, "the weird thing is that when Prometheus came out, I saw some of the similarities, [and thought] ‘oh, we had a character like that.'"
Of course, the idea of expanding Scott and Cameron's first two movies into a larger mythology has had mixed success before. Gearbox's Aliens: Colonial Marines promised so much but was panned for its downgraded graphics as the studio was accused of focusing on the likes of Duke Nukem Forever and Borderlands 2. Since then, the Alien franchise has a resurgence in the world of gaming. After the atmospheric Alien: Isolation, the story of Amanda Ripley was continued in this year's Alien: Blackout on mobile.
Disney has already promised that more Alien movies on their way, but there’s no news on where the franchise’s gaming properties could go next. Sadly, Aliens: Crucible is confined to the depths of development hell with the other failed Alien projects.