The original Fear Effect was something special back in the good old PS1 era. It captailized on the success of Resident Evil by bringing a game with the same type of mechanics while doing something completely different aesthetically. The game had these beautiful cel-shaded graphics which became the trademark of the series
Flash forward 20 years later and we have Fear Effect Sedna. A sequel to the original game. Unfortunately my memories of Fear Efect are vague but I do remember it being a game I thoroughly enjoyed. That memory set my expectations for Sedna.
Your main characters are Hana & Rain. Partners both professionally and intimately. They both work as mercenaries, doing jobs to anyone who will pay them. The game kicks off with someone offering them an art heist. During that mission then stumble into old teammates Glas & Deke. Without spoiling much of the story there is a mystery surround the game as it all unfolds. I personally wasn’t satisfied with the pay off at the end of it. This is no thanks to the sometimes clunky dialogue unfortunately. While the game has maintained its signature art style, it’s lost as soon as you have controls of your characters.
This sequel is different than what you expect. Gone is the room.by room camera, the close up third person perspective and subpar controls. In exchange we have a top down isometric twin stick-ish shooter with tactical stealth combat and a some puzzles to boot. If you think that sounds like too much to pull off, your right. The ambition for this game is quite high and unfortunately a lot of the ideas implemented fall flat. The shooting mechanic is simple as auto lock on and hitting your trigger. But there is no tactic to it. You have to do your best to take cover and roll out of the way. Even behind cover I found myself taking damage unsure where was safe and unsafe.
At first, stealth seems like the best way to progress through the game. While crouched you can see the enemies visual line of sight. This helps you know where they are and how to avoid them detecting you. But this convenience only lasts so long. Before you know it you’re constantly outnumbered and the only result is a gunfight. The tactical mechanic is by far the most frustrating. You can pause the game to set you and your partners movements. More often than not my partner just didn’t know what to do and got himself killed in the process.
One of the only redeeming factors I found were surprisingly the puzzles. The answer to each one is clearly within the stage your at. Sometimes it’s right in front of your face. I had so much trouble with the 2nd one I almost gave up entirely on the game. Until one day I sat down and really took in my surroundings. The lengths I had to go to involved me taking 2 photos of the screen as well as grabbing a pen & paper to help write down the code so that I wouldn’t forget it. This kind of puzzle solving made me feel great once it was done and each one had something for me to scratch my head on.
Fear Effect: Sedna doesn’t know what it wants to be. It threw so much stuff out there and pretty much none of it stuck. Not sure why this was released before the original remaster as the story just throws you in without much background. This will leave newcomers confused on what really is happening. I think with a little bit more time, Sushee Studios could have crafted something unique and special. I can only recommend this game for the hardest of Fear Effect fans. But even then I advised holding back.