Sony Santa Monica’s canceled game mixes ‘Horizon Zero Dawn,’ ‘No Man’s Sky’

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By the end of the month, PS4 owners will finally get their hands on Guerilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn, the most anticipated new game of 2017. But perhaps Sony could’ve released another game around this time, too. Our first look at a canceled Sony Santa Monica IP has been uncovered by Nerdleaks.

Alleged concept art popped up on Erik San Juan‘s website, the concept art lead for the canceled project, and the God of War franchise before that. The images have since been removed from his website, but as with everything on the internet, they were archived, and available to browse on imgur. The canceled project has a Horizon-look to it, begging the question: did Sony pull the plug because it was too similar to other upcoming projects?

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The above image is one of the few action shots, and while these character models look more like they come out of Avatar than Horizon Zero Dawn, the environment, supposedly a lush open world, was riddled with technology and bizarre creatures, just like Horizon.

We know that a number of high profile employees, including San Juan, were laid off from Sony Santa Monica in 2014 after the cancellation of a sci-fi IP that had been in development for a number of years. This certainly appears to be that game.

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You appear to play as a futuristic explorer on a foreign planet. The image above shows off a scanning feature to identify creatures. While many games task players with scanning new creatures and environments, that feature, combined with the image below, brings a certain 2016 game to mind.

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No Man’s Sky? With each piece of concept art, a new Sony exclusive comes to mind. We cannot help but think this ambitious sci-fi game that, if developed fully, would’ve likely been released around this time was perhaps damaged by other, slightly similar games set to land on the PS4.

The project, according to Nerdleaks, was code-named “Darkside,” but it’s highly unlikely that we will ever get to play it at this point. It’s also possible Sony canceled the project because it wanted its Santa Monica studio to get back to its most successful franchise, God of War. Development on the upcoming God of War began shortly after the IP cancellation.