Four Horsemen: 3DO’s Apocalypse That Never Was

And so, the Four Horsemen were unleashed as foretold, and their names are Famine, Pestilence, War and Death. I am the line that separates life from death, war from peace and good from evil. I am known as Abaddon. And though I walk through the shadow of death I shall fear no evil…because evil fears me.”

~ Original game tagline from 3DO

The 3DO Company began developing their first M-rated video game title, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in 2002. The game’s original concept placed players in the role of Abaddon, a fallen archangel tasked with preventing Armageddon and the release of Satan on Earth. Gamers and critics alike praised the game’s preview for its realistic graphics and artwork. Unfortunately, 3DO went bankrupt before completing the game, but thanks to a generous donation from magazine collector Kevin Gifford, ICHEG possesses some rare behind-the-scenes publicity materials for this ill-fated title.

According to original 3DO press releases, Four Horsemen players followed Abaddon in his attempts to prevent the release of War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death who sought to pave the way for Satan (slated to be voiced by actor Tim Curry) to overtake the Earth. Three Chosen humans assisted Abaddon with his task—a prostitute with healing abilities, a serial killer with the ability to see invisible demons, and a corrupt senator with powers of persuasion to convince enemies to join Abaddon. Together, these Chosen ones battled demons, zealots, and the Biblical Four Horsemen.

Screen captures provided in press materials paint a grim version of Earth, already overrun by demonic hordes. The artwork showcased the talents of world-famous comic book artist Simon Bisley, of  DC Comics Batman and Judge Dredd, as well as illustrator Dave DeVries, formerly with Marvel Comics, Tor Books, and Universal Studios. 3DO tasked Bisley, DeVries, and their team of designers to fashion the goriest game the company ever created, full of realistic wounds, dismembered bodies, and blood spatters. In addition, 3DO hired Hollywood’s Smashcut Action Team (The Matrix, The Crow, and Fight Club) to provide choreography for fight scenes to ensure that the game’s combat sequences appeared intricate and realistic.

When 3DO closed its doors in 2003, other publishing companies bought and completed several of its unfinished games, but rumors abounded that Four Horsemen had become too expensive to produce, and thus it faded into non-existence. In 2004, Michael Mendheim, the game’s original creator, revealed in an interview with IGN.com that the game required a lot more work before for publication, and he assumed other game companies did not intend to put the time and energy into completing it. The game experienced a brief resurrection when a group of investors purchased it and created Four Horsemen Entertainment L.L.C., in the hopes of finishing the title, but this never came to fruition.

Do you think you would have purchased this game if production had concluded before 3DO’s demise? Might it be worth another look by today’s publishing companies, or do you feel other games already covered this subject matter suitably?