Art from an unannounced Santa Monica Studio project surfaces, confirming the God of War developer’s previous work on a sci-fi game before layoffs hit the studio.

Without a doubt, one of the most exciting reveals during Sony’s E3 2016 press conference was the official debut of Santa Monica Studio’s forthcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive, God of War. While the tech firm wisely led off its keynote address by jumping into gameplay footage for the action-adventure title almost instantly after a soaring symphonic introduction, it seems as if Santa Monica Studio could have had a completely different kind of game on display during the event. Now, some pieces of concept art from an unannounced project have emerged online, confirming the God of War developer’s previous work on a sci-fi game before layoffs had hit the company three years ago.

As seen in the gallery of images below, it seems as if prior to God of War, Santa Monica Studio was preparing a fresh IP for the PlayStation 4 in form of a science fiction epic, with the artwork depicting a lot of different concept designs, character art, and CG models. For instance, there are humans in various garbs such as space suits and military-grade warrior gear, as well as a wide variety of different aliens, monsters, and fantastical intergalactic environments. Apparently, the pictures had originally been on the personal site of game developer and 3D concept designer Erik San Juan, who supposedly had worked on the project for three years, and they were discovered by Nerdleaks, with the images then being re-uploaded in full to Imgur.

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Aside from the code name of “Darkside,” not much else is known about Santa Monica Studio’s now-nixed project, but upon looking closer at some of the designs for the high-tech gear worn by the human characters, it’s quite possible that the developer could have been taking cues from the Mass Effect franchise, as it appears as if there was to be an assemblage of soldiers and scientists serving a shared administration, like how Commander Shepard had been a representative for the Systems Alliance. However, with no official descriptions to go by, such information is merely speculation.

While it’s safe to say that plenty of fans are still incredibly excited by the prospect of another God of War game coming from Santa Monica Studio, there are likely some who would have rather received a completely new experience with the company’s cancelled science fiction game. After all, there have been a plethora of God of War games made so far, and many fans surely would have been content to have a fresh IP in favor of another title starring Kratos, despite its eschewing of traditional elements from the core franchise.

Of course, the most important thing to bear in mind with this situation is how lucky fans and Santa Monica Studio are that the developer didn’t shut down entirely after being forced to issue layoffs in order to cut back on costs and expenses. Taking this into account, one can only hope for God of War to blow everyone away with its reoriented style, mechanics, and Norse mythology influences once it eventually comes out for PS4.

God of War is currently in development by Santa Monica Studio for PlayStation 4.

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