A sharp-as-hell slasher set to hit Steam and PS4 next year, Aeon Must Die made an unexpected splash during Sony's State Of Play showcase last Thursday. Unfortunately, it's not the game folks are talking about in the wake of Limestone's debut. Instead, the game has found itself locked in a minefield of allegations, as former developers accuse bosses at Limestone of abuse, harassment, unwarranted firings and IP theft.
The description for the alternate cut claims the trailer was "created with abuse, manipulation, theft", and suggests that many developers behind its creation are no longer with the company - many of them unpaid for their work. The biggest cue, however, is a link to a Dropbox repository containing a wealth of documentation: personal testaments, recordings, and emails coming together to paint a picture of "unbearable work conditions with endless crunch, harassment, abuse, corruption, and manipulation."
At the crux of the allegations is Limestone CEO Yaroslav Lyssenko, who former devs accuse of sending threatening emails and terminating employees before they could resign. The Aeon Must Die team hoped to have their investors replace the CEO - when they were unable to, they tried convincing publishers Focus Home Interactive to fully acquire the IP and finish development with a new studio formed of former developers, a process the team are still hoping to persue. In a call with PC Gamer, creative director and founder Aleksei Nehoroshkin described the entire affair thus far as a "year of psycho terror."
Focus have since responded with their own statement on Twitter. But while they're taking their own steps to untangle the situation, it largely passes the buck to Limestone - treating this as an internal conflict between the former devs and their bosses.
"Focus Home Interactive was informed of serious allegations raised by some of the developers at Limestone who have worked on the creation of the video game Aeon Must Die! These grievances are directed at Limestone, their direct employer.
"As the publisher of this video game, Focus is carefully looking into these allegations and will draw the necessary conclusions if they are proved to be well-founded, and then take all appropriate measures. No further comment will be shared until we have a clearer and complete view on this matter."
According to Aeon Must Die's Steam listing, the game is still pegged for release on New Year's Eve, 2021. With much of the core development team no longer at Limestone, financially uncertain, and seeking legal aid, the game's future looks pretty damn uncertain.