When Vigil Games failed to find a buyer during THQ's bankruptcy auction last month, the future seemed bleak for the Darksiders developer - but help came at the 11th hour from Crysis publisher Crytek, which has founded a new Texas studio, Crytek USA, composed of laid-off Vigil staffers. Alas, while Vigil's spirit lives on, the Darksiders franchise probably won't.
Vigil closed doors on 25th January, and Crytek USA was born on the 28th. Speaking to Gamesbeat in the wake of this extraordinary turn of events, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli revealed that games are already in development at the new subsidiary, but Darksiders 3 isn't among them.
"We had chosen Austin as the destination for [our U.S. branch], and we needed a lean and core team of expert to run the studio," he said. "At the same time, we didn't want to continue with Darksiders 3, since that doesn't fit with our strategy.
"So when I heard that [THQ laid off everyone at Vigil], I decided on Saturday morning to fly out to meet with them to see if the team would be interested to join our mission, which is significantly different than what this team has done before."
That's not to say that Yerli isn't impressed by Darksiders. "My point is, I saw a history of games that spoke to the team's capabilities," he went on. "I saw, from a corporate-culture perspective, a very fit core team, and I saw a strong leader [new chief operating officer David Adams] in front of me."
As to the new game, which will run on CryEngine technology, the ball's very much in Crytek USA's court for the moment. "It's not like we set the team on a specific game concept," explained Yerli. "They're actually going to work on what David and the team identifies as what they want to do. Right now, they just know what the strategy of Crytek is and the framework we need to satisfy, but none of that drives what the game is about."
The game could well be Vigil's "Crawler" project, revealed during THQ's bankruptcy proceedings. According to lead combat designer Ben Cureton, the game "was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away.
"We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven't done in a year," he went on. "The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times."
Crytek's disinterest in the Darksiders series raises the possibility that the IP might find its way into the hands of another developer. Bayonetta household PlatinumGames has expressed an interest in buying the property "on the cheap", and has also invited former Vigil staff to apply for work.
Best of luck to all at Crytek USA, and all those laid off who've yet to find a new employer.