Many players were looking forward to the game, which early press releases and concept art revealed as featuring vast landscapes full of life, dense forests, and high above the ground, floating islands with flying dragons. The project had initially been announced in February of 2017, and little news exists of trouble or a hint at the cancellation.
In explaining the cause for the decision, Square Enix stated simply, “Following evaluation of various aspects of Project Prelude Rune, development of the title has been cancelled."
The sudden shift correlates with the departure of Istolia's original president, Hideo Baba, a former producer on the Bandai Namco Tales series. At his departure a few weeks ago, he stated that the resignation was in part to allow for the next generation to advance in the industry. Unfortunately there has not been any confirmation that one point necessarily had to do with the other, but it does seem that way.
Shortly after the announcement, most references to Project Prelude Rune have been removed from their previous spots within Square Enix's channels, as has its official Twitter, Facebook page, and trailer. Mirrors still exist, for now, if one is interested in seeing the trailer again before it disappears. Given how inviting and interesting the world looked, hopefully the game will be resurrected in the future.
It is often unfortunate reading about such cancellations of projects that are in development. There is no doubt that countless hours had been invested into the world building of a game in its concept, as well as into the conceptual design, writing, and coding. The team itself must have felt some frustration, despite perhaps understanding that it was business as usual in their industry.
Similar stories can be seen in games that were successfully released, praised by their audience, only to then have issues producing a sequel. The Wolf Among US Season Two is perhaps one of the more notable examples, where both the studio and fans were eager to see a sequel made, but there was first a series of other commitments that the studio needed to finish before beginning anything else.
Fans were then further reassured of a sequel as forthcoming during the San Diego Comic Con of 2017, where both actors Adam Harrington and Erin Yvette were announced as returning in the roles as voice protagonists.
Instead, in May of 2018 the sequel was delayed, and then completely cancelled, due to an unexpected majority studio closure.
The nature of hyping game releases to maximize sales is one that is likely to stick around in the future, and disappointment will remain an unfortunate side effect.