Well before Lionhead was known for trying to influence our emotions with the Fable series they made a name for themselves with whimsical titles that were as artistic as they were innovative. Titles like Black & White, for example, pushed the boundaries of what we knew games to be, while still retaining the cheeky sense of humor that players had come to expect from Lionhead.
As of late, however, much of Lionhead’s attention has been focused on that Fable series, which next year will launch its fifth title Fable Legends. Granted, the game looks to offer something unique to co-op fans, with its players vs. player concept, but some may be wondering whether the Lionhead they remember has gone.
As it turns out, Lionhead is still creating unique and inventive new titles, but few of them actually see the light of day. Every year, the studio holds a company-wide game jam where they create new concepts for games, and just recently they decided to share some of those creations with fans.
The first title to make its way out of the Lionhead Incubation program is Inkheart, a storybook-esque game that, unfortunately, was cancelled early on in production. Inkheart did make it much further than most Incubation projects do, however, and so we have some brief looks at what the game might have looked like.
As the above video shows, Inkheart was designed as a 2D platformer where words are everything. The narration informs the story, but also conversely the story informs the narration.
Visually, the game is nothing short of stunning, with an art style that fits in perfectly with the gorgeous indies of today. It’s actually a shame that Lionhead axed the project, as we’re almost sure it would have found an audience. The side-scrolling puzzler is seeing a new renaissance thanks to titles like Valiant Hearts, Rayman, and dozens of indies – it’s just a shame Inkheart couldn’t have survived long enough to piggyback off those game’s success.
Still, it’s interesting to take a peek behind the curtain and see what types of projects Lionhead is working on. They’ve been the Fable studio for so long now that many might have forgotten just how innovative they can be. And hopefully Inkheart reminds people of that.
Would you have liked to play Inkheart? Do you think that Lionhead should go back to their more whimsical roots?