We may never see a true sequel to the Jak & Daxter series, but we can gaze wistfully at this gorgeous concept art for the canceled Jak 4.
It’s no secret that developer Naughty Dog began development on an installment of the Jak & Daxter series for Sony‘s PlayStation 3, ultimately deciding to ditch the well-milked franchise in favor of developing the smash hit The Last of Us.
It proved to be a wise decision, as consumers found The Last of Us to be so good that it has frequently been called “the game of a generation” — despite the passing of only two years since its original release. And the Jak & Daxter sequel that was handed off to developer High Impact Games met less-than-favorable reviews, seemingly burying the series for good. However, concept art for the hesitantly-titled Jak 4 recently surfaced, and it offers us a wondrous look at the sequel that could have been.
Without going into great detail — because things get weird — there was much more story to be had for Jak and Daxter. After being transported into the future in Jak 2, Jak sent his younger self into the further past to grow up into himself, but then later found out he’s actually the mythical hero Mar, which meant Jak would ultimately have to go back into the slightly more recent past to build the world of the future. Like we said — things get weird. The concept art suggests a more fantastic setting than what we’ve seen in the past few installments, meaning this could have been the point in Jak’s timeline where he traveled to the past to become the hero Mar. But we suppose we’ll never know, now.
We can also get a peek at a more realistic character model for Jak and his race. You know, aside from the freakishly-large pointed ears and weird toe structure. But the ears are moderately less ridiculous, and the feet are trapped in boots, providing the most human-looking Jak we’ve ever seen. In the years since the last Naughty Dog-developed Jak game, the studio has moved to developing more mature games, such as the Uncharted series and The Last of Us, meaning that — if a return to the world of the Precursors were in order — it would likely be a far more adult take on the classic cartoony world, and the concept art seems to confirm that.
We haven’t seen much of Jak and his furry pal since 2004’s Jak 3. The following year we received the oft-forgotten Jak X: Combat Racing, and four years after that saw the release of The Lost Frontier. Since then, Jak has appeared in the PlayStation Move-oriented PlayStation Move Heroes, which — much like the peripheral the game was designed around — was doomed to mediocrity. Really the most recent appearance of the duo was in 2012, with the release of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, aka Sony Smash Bros.
And that might be the last we hear from the Jak & Daxter series, with Naughty Dog content to pursue their far more popular licenses. The sad truth is, this small amount of beautiful art may be the closest thing we get to Jak 4. And for those of us who grew up alongside Jak back during the PlayStation 2 days, that is a sad prospect, indeed.