Fear Effect, the game your parents bought you with no idea what was behind its game case. Filled with horrific sights of death, gore and monsters, alongside lesbian influences, alcohol and sex, Fear Effect was a dirty, dirty little gem back on the PS1 era of gaming, surrounded by Resident Evil, Silent Hill and The Matrix. We haven’t seen this game in around 18 years, so it’s quite the surprise that a sequel is being released in the form of Fear Effect Sedna.
Shifting from the Resident Evil fixed camera, low resource, horror gameplay and atmosphere, Sedna moves to a more isometric tactical shooter with stealth elements. A big jump for a revival of a series known for its style and gameplay… even if the gameplay was slightly worse than that of games it was likened to. After raising enough money through Kickstarter, €107,285 of its €100,00 goal, Sedna went straight into its development, and while it may not be a shiny diamond, at least it released… unlike so many Kickstarter revival disasters recently. *cough* System Shock *cough*.
Fear Effect Sedna continues on our story from the first game, though almost loosely, as it brings us up to speed with the two main mercenaries for hire, Hana and Rain, a female couple, part gunner badass, part hacker seductress. The game starts us off with them completing their most recent mission, through a short shootout to secure a truck and diffuse a bomb. Heading back to their apartment they are greeted by a new client, who had forced their way into our femme fatales home. (If you played the first game, you’ll know how “maneater” fits Hana).
Suited, booted, and cleavage on show, Hana and Rain get to work on their next job, to steal an artefact. Sadly, the bright light of pale skin against black sneaking gear gives away our merc Hana a bit too easily, though this is sorted soon enough as a rival faction comes crashing in, with heavily armed troops to kill the owner of the artefact, stealing both his life and his possession. What are the odds his employee would turn out to be an old buddy and new client.
The story continues on, as our team grows in numbers, adding in old faces and new ones, as we go on the search for the artefact, fight back against shadowy creatures and delve into the unknown as per usual in Fear Effect. The story itself is straightforward enough if poorly delivered in both its characters and story twists.
Sedna is a very simple game, move your character with the left thumbtack, target enemies with the right and fire with the right trigger. Hitting enemies is easy enough, as targeting is more like a snap lock on than a normal aiming system. You press X to pick up items or interact, triangle to heal, square to reload, R1 and L1 to swap between characters and press the touchpad to go into pause mode. Whilst in pause you can do all the previous actions, and queue them up to go in order once you press the touchpad again, turning the game into more of a turn-based real-time mesh.
Each character has a different weapon, though mostly sticking with handgun type weaponry, and a skill. Skills come in the form of bouncing bullets, stun attacks, piercing shots and more, each coming with a certain amount of uses. You can pick up ammo for skills, whereas guns have unlimited ammo. First aid kits are also located on the map and killed enemies, so stock up as you move around, you will need as much as you can get.
The game is set up in levels, you have a bit of story in the form of a cutscene and are then dropped into a new map with a new objective. Missions start off with a bit of recon or stealth, allowing you to take a breather in the calm before the storm. If you don’t want to stealth you are free to go guns blazing most of the time, unless you are gathering intel or solving puzzles, which the game has quite a few of. Stealth trivialises the difficulty of the game, as you can 1 shot kill guards, as expected. Though you may want to do so, as combat is unforgiving in this game.
Sedna’s music is quite fitting to the aesthetic and settings, though it can get drowned out during events and combat. The music also has a tendency to either not play or not be placed within certain parts of the game, leaving you with just ambient noises as you traverse the maps. There are a few tracks in the game that also feel underdeveloped or rushed, sounding empty and devoid of energy when they really require it for the events taking place.
Alongside a somewhat poor soundtrack, the voice acting in Sedna is abysmal. Characters are monotone for a lot of their dialogue, even speeding through their lines in seconds to get to the point quicker, which is distracting and un-immersive, to say the least. Coupled with just as bad animations, the characters feel stiff, unrealistic and unlikeable. If that was bad enough, the script itself is poorly written to boot, the overall attention paid to the character delivery is way below the bar.
Something the developers got on point was the graphics and characters, some sweet cell-shading and style that was present in the earlier games. While this is a faithful reimagining in today’s gaming world, it is a bit jarring. The graphical quality is very low, looking almost like a flash game or something you’d find in the arcade. This does meet the original design, but in today’s world it no longer fits, the developers could have approached this section a bit better, going for more of a midway point between the original’s style and today’s graphics.
Sadly, Sedna feels very clunky, rough and rushed in the end… hey, just like the old game! While the original was no prize, it did bring with it a cool setting, dark atmosphere and bring out emotions in players, whereas this new one seemingly ditches a lot of that. The game’s shift to tactical combat has not gone over well, with stealth feeling like an afterthought in design. The combat is more suited to a turn-based game, with the AI partners being somewhat useless in a fight without the use of pause mode.
Overall Fear Effect Sedna gets a 4/10, it is fun in some areas with in-depth and difficult puzzles. Combat becomes too annoying in the later sections with party management becoming a hassle due to the mechanics. You cannot customise your character enough, or even stick to a certain playstyle as the game will swap between sneaking, action and puzzles. The dialogue is awful, alongside poor music, the story drags on and the gameplay is barely passable. I would not suggest Sedna at full price. If you like the original games, you should just wait until they work on their remakes of those.