Recently we came across a post from the 3D environment artist Thomas Kobayashi on Twitter, which really caught our eye. It spoke about a fascinating stealth game that we had never heard of before, which was apparently built in LS3D, the engine used for the original Mafia game.
Chameleon, as the game is called, is about a former CIA agent on a quest to hunt down his parent's murderers with an arsenal of weapons and gadgets at his disposal. It only received a limited release in a few Central and Eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, and Russia. Though, weirdly, it also featured English voice-acting.
According to MobyGames, the studio behind it was Silver Wish Games, which was apparently a subdivision of Illusion Softworks (that later became 2K Czech), located in Slovakia. This explains how the company was able to get access to the Mafia engine at the time, but the strangeness around it doesn't seem to stop there.
Several sources, including a Czech games database, claim the game was apparently finished a full two years before it was released in 2005, and that it came out after the company had closed its doors.
Even stranger than that, the company appears to have released a further two games after Chameleon, suggesting that it was later reopened, though independent of Illusion. These later titles include the 2006 PC release Circus Empire and the Windows and Xbox 360 game Axel & Pixel in 2009 (which you can apparently still buy on Steam).
Chameleon received some pretty solid reviews back when it launched in 2005, according to MobyGames. But despite that, it never saw a rerelease and is currently considered abandonware, with several versions of the game being distributed for free online. This includes a version that Thomas Kobayashi linked to with the text translated into English.
We don't know about you, but we're absolutely fascinated by this obscure release. If you're interested, you can watch the game's original trailer below:
Did you play Chameleon back in 2005? Have you tried it out since? Let us know!
I adored Mafia when it first released, still remember it as one of the best games I've ever played story-wise, with a 3D open world and beautiful old cars to drive in it - gameplay could be frustrating but it was worth it.
I've avoided the definitive edition as I still remember the story and worry the gameplay etc will ruin the nostalgia for me - but may eventually give in.
This is definitely another game I'd have tried given the engine and part of the same software house - shame it didn't release over here. If I can legally get a copy (or if true abandonware) I might give it a go yet...
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