Xbox One exclusive (and launch title!) Ryse: Son of Rome was probably the last video game Crytek made that people actually heard of or cared about. Since the game launched in 2013, Crytek went through a major reorganization; was more than once unable to pay its employees; sold off a bunch of studios and assets, and today is known mainly for suing the makers of Star Citizen.
That’s not to say that things were peachy-keen up to the point Ryse, a third-person action-adventure, finally launched. Its development goes all the way back to 2006, and at one point, like just about every development hell game from this time period, was going to be a Kinect 1.0 title. We can now see what Crytek developers were noodling on around that time thanks to an Xbox 360 developer kit that someone picked up at auction, and whose contents were posted to YouTube on Friday by Prototype Preservation (seen via Eurogamer).
The game was called Codename: Kingdoms at this point, although it definitely carried the Ancient Rome theme and quick-timer events for which the finished title was known. A major difference is that Codename: Kingdoms was a first-person hack and slash, whereas Ryse was a third-person adventure.
But the Codename: Kingdoms menu also features an option called “Mass Battle test level,” which suggests that some elements of Ryse’s huge set-piece battles (where the player commands NPCs) were envisioned early on.
Otherwise, to say this is a very rough build is an understatement. Apparently the mission shown is an “E3 Demo level,” but in no way is this kind of thing ready for the L.A. showfloor, closed doors or otherwise.
But I do think it’s fun to watch along and make up dialogue for the mute stand-ins of what looks like a rather typical action-adventure setup. Such as:
PLAYER: (pushes windows open)
WIFE: By Minerva was that you?
PLAYER: (manfully) You’re gonna wanna give that a minute.
WIFE: My love, our home is homely, but we are happy and surely no one will choose now to attack us, radicalize you and set you on a course of revenge.
CHILD: Father, Timmy brought some tetrodotoxin to school and I can’t move my arms.
MOTHER: Hush, child, I told you Law Abiding Citizen was a grownups only movie.
(door flies open)
THUGS: You betta ask somebodayyyyyyy!
Things get really weird when the player starts mime-fighting bad guys atop the dry-docked barge, and then it’s basically unplayable once that launches into the Tiber. Ryse: Son of Rome was supposed to inaugurate a new IP, according to Crytek’s Cevat Yerli, but of course we know how that turned out. Rumors at the time suggested that Microsoft and Crytek disagreed over who would own the Ryse franchise, which Yerli denied. Whatever the case, the sequel was never made, and Ryse is still Crytek property.