The Embracer Group is picking up Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics for a bargain price of $300 million from Square Enix including some of its best IPs. This is all so that the Japanese games titan can go fund its blockchain ambitions. Eyeroll. Well that’s certainly a choice, Square. Regardless of the wisdom of this decision by Square Enix, the sale of its Western devs opens up the possibility that some dormant (and not so dormant) IPs might get revisited in the near future, so let’s take a look at a few of the best, shall we?
Deus Ex combines just about every deep state conspiracy fever dream into its slick cyberpunk dystopia, bringing a sleek sense of style and transhumanist social commentary into its neo-noir future. Deus Ex pioneered deeply customizable character progression and gameplay that encouraged multiple solutions to a map or questline. Notwithstanding some questionable writing choices, the latest Deus Ex games, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided, gave us bleak, plausible and compelling looks at a near hypercapitalist hellscape and gave us the tools to explore, and maybe try to save it. Yes, please Embracer. We are asking for this.
Legacy of Kain
Another IP I’d love to see given a new lease of life is the Legacy of Kain dark fantasy series. The games featured the vampire lord Kain and his renegade protege Raziel as they battle through the past and present of the realm of Nosgoth in a sweeping epic exploring themes of betrayal, choice, conspiracy and predestination, broken up by a lot of really cool and clever vampire-powered swordfights and puzzles. The Legacy of Kain games combined innovative platformer gameplay with intricate storytelling, and it would be really cool to see a modern take on the Legacy of Kain mythos.
Dark fantasy stealth series Thief is another Eidos property that could use a shot in the arm. The original Thief games gave players a taste of groundbreaking stealth gameplay that rewarded patience and a clever mind more than a swift swordarm. A 2020s reboot could correct the flaws of the last stab at the games, 2014’s Thief, which was a looker, but suffered from linear level design that seldom rewarded the freeform maneuvering and puzzle solving that made the first few games so compelling.
Given the mostly positive critical response and fan reception to last decade of Tomb Raider games, its amazing Square Enix repeatedly expresses such a low opinion of this globally recognized franchise. What do they want, a flood of money or something? 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider brought the Survivor trilogy to a close, so now the ground is primed for a new take on adventuring archaeologist Lara Croft. There are many directions this could go, from building on the themes and character development of young Lara from the Survivor games, or going with the less gritty interpretation from older games with its smirking, wisecracking Lara.
Crystal Dynamics’ old mascot could use some time in the sun again. First debuting in April 1995 on the 3DO console, the wisecracking TV-addicted gecko voiced by Dana Gould would go on to star in a trilogy of platformers that would combine environmental challenges with riffs on 80s and 90s media. There’s a part of me that wants to see what Gex might be like rewritten for a milieu of shitposting memelords and algorithm-driven streaming media. It could be funny as heck, or maximal cringe. Possibly both.