Games that Weren’t: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

May 16, 2012

Right before 3DO’s death, they had a few upcoming releases that showed promise. Back in 2003, the one that stood out to me was The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an action game set right before the supposed end of the world. In it, you control the archangel Abaddon and team up with a group of three humans known as the “chosen,” to track down and kill the riders of the apocalypse in order to prevent, well… the apocalypse. It attempted to mix heavy action with some light exploration and horror elements to create a game that was not unique, but had some interesting potential.

What It Was: An action game developed by the now-dead publisher, 3DO

What Happened: It was one of the casualties of 3DO’s bankruptcy and eventual closing

Why We Wanted It: Despite some familiar trappings, the game had promise and, with the right marketing, could have been a breakout success for 3DO

At the time, this was going to be a big release for 3DO. Not only was it their first M-Rated game, it was also their first game in years that they wanted to give a huge marketing push. Some optimistic trailers and previews showed this as coming along nicely, despite some similarities to other popular games at the time. However, I would like to think of this game as an even darker Devil May Cry, from the setting to the gameplay despite the similarities.

As previously mentioned, the gameplay was a combination of an action game with some light exploration (in the same vein as DMC). The action focused on Abaddon’s ability to swap between melee attacks and gunplay on the fly, although the actual shooting mechanics seemed more developed than DMC’s, so there was more of a balance between the two. It was said that Abaddon would have other abilities that would work in tandem with his basic sword and gunplay, but not much was revealed beyond that.

The game would start with Abaddon’s search for the three humans that would help him defeat the four horsemen. Each of the three chosen would help out Abaddon in specific ways with their own unique abilities. For example, one of the three, Jesse, would be able to heal Abaddon whenever he called on her to aid him. Whether you could swap between them or select a specific chosen to help you before different missions was never specified, and a lot of those details never emerged. Although this is pure speculation, it would have been interesting to see how those abilities developed for each character. Perhaps they would have gained experience the more you used them, giving you a reason to swap between them more frequently? There was a lot of potential.

Despite showing the game off at preview events and letting a ton of buzz surround the project in early 2003, it wasn’t too long before the game was never seen again. 3DO struggled for several years, never able to publish any breakout hits, and in May 2003 they declared bankruptcy. Their many intellectual properties were sold off, including the rights to make a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse game, but nothing ever came of that. With no developer looking to pick up where they left off, the project effectively scrapped. Although it would not have saved the company, if the game had been released, it might have been a big hit with the right marketing behind it.

Looking back on it now, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was far from original, but at the time, a lot of the story and concepts behind it were promising. There were still a lot of unknowns and it seemed to stem from a few other popular action games from the time, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the premise. Back then it showed promise and, with the right marketing push, might have been the perfect game for 3DO to go out on. And we’ve seen games with similar concepts, such as Darksiders, do well enough, so there is the potential for its eventual return.