Ubisoft’s mysterious disaster game I Am Alive is no longer in the hands of independent developer Darkworks, with development now being shifted entirely to Ubisoft’s Shanghai branch.

Darkworks, who have been toiling away at the still-enigmatic disaster survival game for three years now, are no longer working on I Am Alive. Development has been entirely shifted over to Ubisoft Shanghai.

“In order to respect the new launch date for this ambitious title, and Darkworks having other obligations, we have mutually decided to complete development of I Am Alive at Ubisoft Shanghai, as the two studios have collaborated on aspects of the title over the past year,” Ubisoft said. I Am Alive was recently pushed back from a March release date to the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Those interested in the game may take this as troubling news – could this be another indicator that it’s mired in development hell? There’s been barely word one about how the game even plays, outside of the few gameplay details revealed a few months ago that revealed a first-person survival game that emphasizes tactics over gunplay.

As for Darkworks, Ubisoft maintains that they’ll still get back what they put into the project. “The team at Darkworks has respected its contractual obligations on the project and will be a part of the success of the game when it launches,” Ubisoft said.

The independent studio apparently had a good, if somewhat stressful, relationship with the mega-publisher. “It has been a long time we have been working with them and, as an external developer, we have been treated well,” Antoine Villette, Darkworks CEO, said last year. “For Ubisoft, for original IP it is very aggressive. They are quite willing to take risks and they deserve some applause for that.”

Joystiq ventures that Ubi’s contract with Darkworks probably just ran its course, and instead of renewing it and risking further delays, the publisher decided to bring it in-house to expedite development in time for the game’s release. Ubisoft Shanghai was previously responsible for Tom Clancy’s EndWar and Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Let’s hope they can preserve the original spirit of the game, whatever that was, I still have only the vaguest idea.

[Via Eurogamer]

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