Game history blog Gaming Alexandria shared details and gameplay footage of The Sacred Pools, a 1996 “erotic thriller” by Sega that was never released. Dylan Mansfield penned a deep dive into the history of the game and its ties to the decline of FMV games in the 1990s.
Sega originally planned to release The Sacred Pools in 1997. SegaSoft aimed to publish games for both PC and Sega Saturn, as well as target older audiences. The game first debuted at E3 1996, where it faced a largely negative reaction from the press and onlookers. By the late 1990s, most avid games media and game enthusiasts soured on the prospects of FMV games. The critical drubbing and instability at SegaSoft itself (by 1997 the division would be restructured to focus on online games and the PC market) led Sega to quietly shelve The Sacred Pools.
That would’ve been the end of it, with the game remembered only through brief articles in gaming magazines of the time. However, in May 2022 Gaming Alexandria connected with Joe Cain, a former Sega game tester. Cain put them in contact with David Gray, who had worked as an associate producer on The Sacred Pools and happened to own several CD-ROMs with the game data on them. Gray got the discs, which contained alpha builds for the Sega Saturn, Windows PC, Mac, and PlayStation versions of the game as a parting gift in SegaSoft’s waning days. (The division was disbanded in 2000.) Twenty years later, the game was finally copied to digital storage and made available via emulation.
Check out some gameplay footage of the Saturn version of The Sacred Pools below.
The Sacred Pools begins when the player arrives at an asteroid base and meets a mysterious woman who gives them a potion of some sort to drink. Like many FMV adventures of the time, the footage is shot in first-person view and allows players to explore area, screen by screen. A cursor-based interface allows for the solving of puzzles and manipulation of objects in the environment. The player also has a health bar, that depletes as they take damage from characters attacking them in pre-filmed scenes.
The Sacred Pools is available for download from Gaming Alexandria.