A Sleeping Dogs sequel was in the works, once upon a time

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Sleeping Dogs is one of my favourite open world games – for a lot of reasons. Its Hong Kong action focus and hard-hitting melee combat was certainly more empowering than the iffy hand-to-hand stuff in most action games. A lot of it, though, had to do with its focus on people who are just like a lot of my family. People who spoke Cantonese. The game got so much right about the culture I grew up in; English sentences punctuated with bits of Cantonese, people bowing three times at a funeral, odd superstitions that had been a part of my childhood.

Naturally, I was saddened to hear that United Front Games, the company behind Sleeping Dogs shut down. Dreams of a Sleeping Dogs sequel, scuppered. And, as it turns out, they had plans to make one.

So says Vice gaming’s Patrick Klepek, who has obtained document’s about the game. In a long and detailed report, Klepek outlines the ambitious game, which was cancelled in 2013.

The game would once again focus on Wei Shen, only he’d be joined by a “conflicted, corrupt partner” by the name of Henry Fang. Set, instead of Hong Kong, in China’s Pearl River delta it would have a branching storyline that would allow players to switch between Shen and Fang – a little, I guess, Like GTA V lets you cycle through its protagonists.

“An opening scene consists of Wei and Fang talking together, discussing what the next step of an investigation should be. Deciding to split up and follow different leads, Wei’s thread will follow him as he busts heads for information, while Fang plants evidence by breaking into a suspect’s house. Depending on the character selected, the audience (and characters) will only see one side of the story until both threads are played. This gives us ample opportunity to explore both characters fully, and gives the player the revelatory experience of discovering both sides of the story.”

Like many games of that time, it had planned mobile integration with a separate game, which would allow you to influence the living world that was envisioned for the game proper. It all sounds terribly ambitious.

The game would support full co-op, and like Skyrim, have procedurally-generated missions that you’d be able to play forever.

“One campaign tasks players to go to the run-down gambling district to eliminate a triad that is controlling it. They meet a snitch that helps them throughout the experience. After players complete the campaign, the MSP [massively single player] decides that such action was enough to change the state of the district to a more stable one. They try another campaign later on that allows them to come back to the district, but now the snitch they met is a small business owner that gives them a discount in his store.”

In his report, Klepek details how and why it was cancelled, along with details of United Front’s eventual downfall. It’s a bit of a sobering look at the game industry, and well worth a read.

Last Updated: November 23, 2016

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