Oni was an action title released in 2001. It was the only game made by the short lived Bungie West studio. In spite of mixed reception, it turns out they were working on a sequel. Thanks to an intrepid archivist, we finally can see what it was like.
Andrew Borman has a knack for getting his hands on unfinished games and publishing their stories on his YouTube page, PtoPOnline. Recently, he shared a video on an ill-fated Diddy Kong Racing sequel. He also sat down alongside many other archivists to help me understand the difficulties of saving video game history. Oni 2: Death and Taxes is the latest lost gem he’s added to his collection
He outlines the project’s history in a new video. The project was developed by Angel Studios but they only made so much progress. Developers speaking to Borman cited a lack of clear direction for slow progress. The project was ultimately shut down after Angel Studios became Rockstar San Diego and focus shifted to Red Dead Revolver.
The demo itself is in remarkably rough shape. There’s only a partially completely level and a few basic test environments, but Borman pieces together the game’s history rather comprehensively. Little bits of history like this are lost all the time as projects get abandoned. Oni is a lesser known action game nowadays, but there’s still human stories to tell and lessons to learn from this failed project. It’s even better to see them come to light.