Instead of making Obsidian's interesting-looking Alien Crucible RPG, SEGA greenlit the disastrous Colonial Marines. Now some new info on Obsidian's scrapped Alien Crucible RPG surface, painting a macabre picture of what could've been.
With Crucible, Obsidian wanted to make an Alien horror game interspersed with RPG-based action. The idea was to have Mass Effect-like squads with AI and guns that would follow your commands, complete with KOTOR-style item menus, equipment and classes, all set in a reactive environment that's extremely hazardous and oppressive. Aliens roam across every corridor of your ship waiting to munch your friends, face-huggers lay in wait to transform your comrades into marauding freaks, and you could be prey at any moment. In a very real sense, Obsidian wanted to meld Alien: Isolation's fear with an Aliens-style action bent, all wrapped up in that kind of choking atmosphere of the original 1979 film.
In a recent interview with VG247, ex-Obsidian writer Chris Avellone said there'd be distinct survival elements. Players would have to make a mad scramble to collect weapons, ammo, and supplies without becoming xenomorph lunch.
"The entire world was more violent and there were a lot more Aliens running around. It was more a question of survival, and 'how do we recover all the supplies, and desperately try to make a base?' It was fun to set up."
Avellone also brought up an interesting point about eradicating safe zones in the game to continually bring a sense of tension.
In most RPGs, conversations are harbors where the game essentially pauses for a bit so you can chew the fat with an NPC, or take a quick break without having to shut the game off. But not in Alien Crucible. Towering aliens could appear from the shadows and gnaw on you even while you're talking to another character.
"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," he said.
No matter how interesting Crucible sounded, it's just another casualty of games development. Games are cancelled all the time and many of them go unnoticed or unannounced.
The future of the Alien series remains uncertain. After the excellent Alien: Isolation in 2014, SEGA has slowly shifted its attention elsewhere. Now FoxNext, an internally-owned studio at the Alien-owners at Fox, are making a new MMO shooter for current-gen consoles and PC.
I recently predicted this game would follow closely to the Aliens movie formula with a strong bent towards action, and have monetized online elements to boot.
I hope to see the Aliens franchise return to its true form sometime soon, but for right now it's all about action...and that's a missed opportunity in my book.