A canceled Dune game comes to Steam under a new name, 20 years later

Westwood wasn't the only Studio publishing Dune videogames back in the day. French studio Cryo Interactive developed an adventure game simply called Dune and released it in 1992, then in 2001 released a tie-in to the Sci Fi Channel miniseries called Frank Herbert's Dune developed by Widescreen Games. The latter was a flop, and Cryo Interactive, already struggling due to the early 2000s recession, declared bankruptcy.

That left Soft Brigade in trouble. The Hungarian studio was working with Cryo Interactive on an arcade flight-sim for the Game Boy Advance called Dune: Ornithopter Assault, in which you played a House Atreides pilot on Arrakis, protecting spice harvesters from the Harkonnen. It was canceled—as was an online RTS called Dune Generations being developed internally by Cryo Networks—despite being almost finished. A playable ROM was eventually leaked online, but now Soft Brigade's game lives on, thanks to crowdfunding.

After raising $21,222 on Kickstarter, the game formerly known as Dune: Ornithopter Assault has finally been completed. Absent the Dune license and renamed Elland: The Crystal Wars, it's been brought to PC by Retro Room Games, who specialize in game preservation.

Instead of Arrakis, it's set on Elland, a world where the Brem-Nar crystals vital for making galactic star cruisers are mined. As a raptor pilot for Elland Inc., it's your job to deliver crystal gatherers to the crystal fields and prevent smugglers and agents of the rival Trafford Corp from destroying them. There are 23 levels, and some modern quality-of-life features like the ability to save anywhere, controller support and control remapping, cloud saves, and image scaling and smoothing options.

Elland: The Crystal Wars is available on Steam as of October 3. As for official Dune videogames, 4x strategy game Dune: Spice Wars is currently in early access, and Funcom is working on three Dune games, including open world survival MMO Dune Awakening, which has yet to announce a release date.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.