Yesterday, footage of the upcoming Xbox exclusive Phantom Dust leaked online, following a shift in game's developmental studio. Phantom Dust was a card-builder / JRPG hybrid released for the original Xbox. The in-development reboot was revealed at last year's E3 via a CGI trailer.
Phantom Dust's original developer Darkside Games were removed from the project, leading to the closure of the company. It's unclear exactly what happened, especially considering that the footage below looks quite decent.
Speaking with Kotaku, an anonymous developer from Darkside discussed the game's combat. The sequences above detail a 1v1 player vs. player scenario, complete with environmental destruction and attractive visuals. Players would select a deck of skill bearing cards before battle, and would then be presented with random cards from their deck as the battle continued. The developer expressed his disappointment that he didn't have footage of the game's more impressive levels of environmental destruction, in addition to criticising Microsoft for the unceremonious handling of Darkside's involvement in the project.
"I believe that the vertical slice we delivered was as good as anyone could have reasonably expected, it was very nearly E3 demo good, way beyond what a vertical slice should be. But apparently not good enough for them. And to hear them quickly say they're finishing development elsewhere is certainly a slap."
Kotaku's source indicates that the project was originally intended to be 70% original game, 30% new. It could be that Microsoft want to reboot the game in its entirety, and have decided to bring the project in-house rather than outsource.
Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted his commitment to the game, responding to fears that the project had been cancelled. His comments echo the PR narrative Microsoft sent to me previously regarding Darkside's closure, which state explicitly that the game is still in development.
"Change of studio for a game is never easy and will put us back a bit but I'm committed to the game."
It's unlikely that we'll hear more about the game in June at this year's E3, given the turmoil over its development - but Microsoft still have an impressive line-up to talk about, and have been teasing surprises for quite some time.