Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider-Inspired Cancelled Survival Horror Game

By Ishaan . January 5, 2011 . 1:15pm

At some point around 2006, Crystal Dynamics were brainstorming an open-world survival-horror game that wasn’t the Tomb Raider reboot, but did share quite a lot in common with what you’d expect of a Tomb Raider game. More on this in a bit.


To begin with, the setting appears to be an area in America recently plagued by earthquakes and tremors, complete with grotesque-looking creatures to add to the protagonist’s misery:


These creatures, it would appear, were supposed to be vulnerable to light. We stumbled upon the blog of one of the game’s designers, who provides detailed plans of some of the ingame scripted events, level layouts and monsters.


Here’s a look at a concept for how you would bounce lights through a hall of mirrors, and another where you help a fellow survivor use a light mounted on a rooftop to repel the creatures:



It gets better though. Similar to Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft, the lead character for this game would have dual-wielded a pair of pistols, with the player using both L1/R1 — or simply R1; the matter was being brainstormed –  to fire them. The character would have automatically targeted the closest enemy.

Judging by the above concept, there appear to have been plans for a healthy amount of Tomb Raider-esque platforming as well. Here’s another concept that shows an example of the platforming you would have undertaken:

While we can’t say for sure, these more fleshed-out environment concept images by another ex-Crystal Dynamics employee are likely from the same title. Note the PS3 and Xbox 360 in the second image:


It should be interesting to see if Crystal Dynamics re-used any of the concepts from this old project in their upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, come the time of its release.

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  • Extra_Life

    Sounded like a great idea, too. There need to be more open world survival horror games!

    Only a few days ago me and a couple of guys at work were discussing how great an open-world survival horror game would be. However, we’d factored in a procedural adventure where you’ll never get the same game twice, and in a Steel Batallion twist, you’d lose your save when you died, kinda roguelike in that respect.

    • Testsubject909

      That last detail is best as an option nowadays, not every gamer is interested in roguelikes and even those who do enjoy it (Hello) also enjoys to sometimes just sit back and relax with their gaming rather then go at it in such an intense manner (continuous roguelike takes a toll on you).

      I know there’s the argument of “just play a different game” but a different game is… well, a different game then what one would feel like playing on a more relaxed setting. Mind you, it all depends on the experience you want to tailor in.

      But losing a save is a bit more painful then just having your save overwritten with certain details. Take Demon’s Souls for example. Your save is constantly overwritten, if you died multiple times and lost all your souls, you can’t just load up your last save. But if you die, you don’t lose your save file… That could be hundreds of hours of gaming there just because of a small mistake.

      And that sort of event can truly take a toll on someone as well, which is why I say that continuous roguelike can really do a number to you.

      Plus, I can guarantee you’d lose a lot of popularity if you chose the “Lose your save” path, as a lot of people would be far too intimidated to purchase it, and you’d see yourself going in the red as the price to make the game wouldn’t be offset by the purchases, no matter how many courageous hardcore gamers out there buy your game.

      • Extra_Life

        This is the way the conversation went at work. We had two sides, those who were literally scared of this type of gameplay, and those of us who found it fascinating. However, we’d already stipulated that this fictional game we were discussing would be procedural in nature, the idea of the game being to survive as long as you can and as best you can. Your death would be the end of the game in an ‘end’ sense, not in ‘I just lost all those hours’ end, and when some of the non-believers took that on board, they were more interested in that type of open-world survival game. You’d be graded on how long you survived, what measures you took and so on. I only work with gamers, so it was a pretty interesting idea and conversation.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    I was under the impression all along that the upcoming TR and this was one and the same.

  • Looks like there will still be tombs and mythical creatures in Tomb Raider, I so can not wait! Already added it to my AMZN wishlist! Me and Lara are gonna have a darn tootin good time survivn!

  • PrinceHeir

    that some bloody screen you got there :D

  • Ereek

    Sounds amazing, I’d be all over that.

  • To me it seems like I Am Legend + Tomb Raider + Alan Wake. Sucks it was canceled, sounds pretty sweet.

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