Human Head stopped working on sci-fi shooter Prey 2 in late 2011, the studio has revealed - just months after the game was demoed at E3 and years before it was formally cancelled.
"We stopped working on Prey 2 near the end of 2011, and had been working on it for close to two years," project director Chris Rhinehart told Develop. "It was very close to an alpha state, with all major content pieces represented.
"We were at that point in a game where you can step back and see the whole picture and shift from developer to editor and decide which elements to cut and which elements to emphasis and polish."
Prey 2 was first shown off in the summer of 2011, where its impressive E3 demo left fans eager to see more. However, the game was formally cancelled last October after Bethesda decided that it "wasn't up to our quality standard".
"Bethesda stated their reasons when they finally cancelled the game in October 2014, and needless to say we have our own perspective on the matter that differs from the reasons they stated," business development director Tim Gerritsen said.
"As we said in response in October, we feel that the quality of the game was well represented by the materials we displayed in numerous public demonstrations on behalf of Bethesda and we are disappointed that fans won't be able to see our vision come to life. We remain proud of the work that we did."
Meanwhile, Human Head's Norm Nazaroff believes that the game "would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation" had it seen a release.
"We had a great deal of content created, some of which was shown publicly but a lot of which was not," he said.
"Our tech had progressed significantly past the live demo we ran at E3, Gamescom and PAX and was even more impressive. It's my personal opinion that we would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation."
It remains unclear what went on with the game between late 2011 and October 2014, but rumours suggest work could have been handed over to Dishonored developer Arkane - something Bethesda denies.
"It's a franchise we still believe we can do something with," Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines added following the project's cancellation, "we just need to see what that something is."