Delisted videos. Missing social media accounts. A landing page that redirects to the publisher's main website. If these sound like signs that a game is easing itself out of existence, you'd be right.
Two years ago, we learned about an all-new fantasy RPG for PS4 called Project Prelude Rune and its newfound creator, Studio Istolia. The team was formed under Square Enix and led by high-profile Tales series producer Hideo Baba. Those details were attention-grabbing at first, but there wasn't much follow-up. We saw the briefest of trailers. Then, in 2019, Baba stepped away from the company.
"Accompanying a change in Studio Istolia management policies, I'm announcing that I resigned as representative director in December 2018 to make room for the next generation," Baba explained. "Also, in March 2019, I resigned from Square Enix." His departure raised questions about the future prospects of Project Prelude Rune, but now we know for sure. The hopeful game isn't happening.
A screengrab from the Tokyo Game Show 2018 teaser trailer.
"Following evaluation of various aspects of Project Prelude Rune, development of the title has been canceled," Square Enix confirmed to USgamer. "Studio Istolia is no longer in operation and we have been taking appropriate steps to assign studio staff to other projects within the Square Enix Group."
Public video game cancellations are so often full of remorse, but from the outside looking in, it's hard to muster a sense of longing for Project Prelude Rune. We know too little about this game to have formed a genuine attachment. More than anything, it's sad to see the dissolution of a promising studio.
Time will tell what went wrong at Studio Istolia, but for now, I'll treasure this concept art.