BioShock: The Collection released this week, and now creator Ken Levine has opened up about The Lost, a Zelda-style title that was finished but never released.
“It was a game called The Lost,” Levine told Rolling Stone’s Glixel. “We made it right after System Shock 2. It was a game about a woman. Her daughter dies, and she makes a deal with the devil to go to hell to try to get her back. What it’s really about is the process of accepting loss. It’s a game about mourning. It reflects some things that I had seen in my own life at that point.
“It’s a finished game for PS2 and original Xbox. It exists somewhere. We never released it because it wasn’t up to our standards of quality. The game just wasn’t good. I think it would have really hurt us.
“It was a Zelda-style, third-person action game. We had never made a game like that. Zelda is genius, Mozart-level stuff, How you find these tools that are both useful gameplay items but also essential keys. You go through a dungeon and you get the bomb. All of a sudden you look around and see the cracks all over the walls. He’s seeded in all this brilliant opportunity for me! The overworld/underworld structure is brilliant.
“We tried to create a game like that and we very quickly realized it wasn’t a game I was really cut out to design.”
Levine also touched on why he chose to stop making BioShock titles.
“For me, it’s the five years making it, and all the things that happened while making it, and the health problems I had during it. I saw a picture of me when we first announced it. That was 2010. And then I saw a picture of me after I did an interview on NPR when we shipped it in 2013. And I look 10 years older.
“It changed my life in terms of what it did to my health, and what it did to my view of making games, and my relationship with people.
“Managing 30 or 40 people where you know everybody’s name is a very different process than managing 150 people. You walk by people in the studio and you don’t know who they are.
“There’s a certain kind of person, man or woman, who thrives in that situation, who are a captain of industry. I’m a creative. I’m a writer, basically. More like a showrunner on TV.
“I think the natural expectation was that I would go and do the next bigger and better BioShock game. And I felt, ‘I think I’ll fail if I do that. I think I’ll lose my mind, and my marriage.’ And so my solution was to quit.”
BioShock: The Collection is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.