In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, BioShock series creator Ken Levine discusses a cancelled Zelda-like project that was in development at Irrational Games.
Nowadays, Ken Levine's name is synonymous with BioShock, a first-person shooter series with mind-bending plots that has earned critical acclaim across the board. However, before Levine or his team at Irrational Games started work on BioShock, the studio actually created and finished a much different game, one that took inspiration from Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series instead of the System Shock franchise.
Levine elaborated on the development of this unreleased game in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine. Apparently, Irrational started work on a game with Zelda-like gameplay features for PS2 and Xbox right after it finished System Shock 2. The game was called The Lost, and would have featured a dark story about a desperate, mourning mother, who makes a deal with the devil to travel to Hell in an attempt to bring her dead daughter back to life. The Lost would have explored the mourning process, with its overall theme being "accepting loss."
So, what happened to The Lost, and if it was finished, why wasn't it ever released? "We never released it because it wasn't up to our standards of quality," Levine explained. "The game just wasn't good. I think it would have really hurt us." Instead of trying to fix the game, Irrational bought the rights to it back from publisher Crave Entertainment and shelved it in favor of other projects, such as BioShock.
Whereas most of Irrational's games are first-person shooters of some kind, The Lost was going to be a third-person action-adventure title, so perhaps the studio struggled with this shift in style. In fact, every single one of the games released by Irrational is first-person, with the exception of the two tactical strategy Freedom Force games, so The Lost would have been a major departure from the studio's usual work.
Considering this, it should come as no surprise that the studio's next effort isn't going to attempt something new like The Lost. Levine and his team have apparently learned from their experience trying to develop The Lost, and so their first non-BioShock game in a decade is going to be an open world science-fiction first-person shooter.
Levine and the remaining developers at Irrational may not venture too far outside of their comfort zone, but some would argue that they came close to perfecting the first-person shooter with BioShock and BioShock: Infinite. All eyes will be on Levine and his team to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle again with their next game, and here's hoping we see something concrete on that front soon.
Prior to BioShock, The Lost was in development for PS2 and Xbox before it was cancelled.
Source: Rolling Stone