Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider-Inspired Cancelled Survival Horror Game


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.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.