Life is filled with paths not taken. Careers unpursued, loves unrequited, games based on massive media properties unmade. Games like Obsidian’s take on Rick and Morty, for instance, which studio boss Fergus Urquhart casually mentioned was planned by the company during a recent interview with NME (opens in new tab).
Precisely what the game would have been is frustratingly undetailed in the interview itself, but we do know that it ended up shelved once Obsidian got bought by Microsoft (opens in new tab) and that it was one of many big licences the studio hoped to turn into games. The studio was also pitching a Walking Dead RPG and a game based on the reality show Cops (opens in new tab) before Microsoft scooped it up, although publishers “couldn’t get their heads around” that last one. In another interview, we even heard that the studio had plans for a game based on James Cameron’s Avatar (opens in new tab).
I’m going to imagine that whatever Obsidian had in mind for Rick and Morty, it would have been somewhat close to the work it did on South Park: The Stick of Truth: A parodic RPG that recreated the art style of its source material to capture the vibe of the show. It’s probably for the best that it didn’t come to pass, though, given the imbroglio that now surrounds series creator Justin Roiland, who was charged with felony domestic violence (opens in new tab)and false imprisonment in 2020.
If anything, Urquhart’s tales of Obsidian’s stalled projects only serve to highlight just how much the studio has changed in the last few years. It used to be a kind of mercenary studio, picking up other people’s series—Star Wars, Fallout, South Park, and so on—and making some incredibly good (some might say the best) games with them. Its attempts to kickstart its own properties never really took off, as Tyranny (opens in new tab) and Alpha Protocol (opens in new tab) can attest (even if both those games are excellent).
But now the company has more series of its own than you can count, and they’re well-regarded too. Obsidian doesn’t have to pitch games set in other people’s worlds when it can do whatever it wants with the likes of Grounded, Avowed (based in Pillars of Eternity’s world of Eora), The Outer Worlds, and Pentiment. Even though two of those games aren’t classic Obsidian-style RPGs, Urquhart told NME that he doesn’t feel like he’s “being restricted” by Microsoft, and that the company’s still doing “all the crazy stuff [it’s] always done”. But it’s clear that the studio’s recent success has given it room to experiment, and with things it actually owns to boot.
Still, Fallout: New Vegas 2 wouldn’t go amiss. Just saying.