Review – Fear Effect Sedna
Fans have been waiting a long time for a new Fear Effect game, and well over 15 years later it has finally arrived as Fear Effect: Sedna. Retaining the old art style but overhauling the gameplay and moving the series to an isometric view, Sedna moves forward.
The story picks up roughly 4 years after the original with Hannah and Rain working as mercenaries doing the odd job to get by. They are tasked with stealing an ancient artifact from a museum in Paris by a mysterious client. As expected, everything goes wrong and they are thrust into a journey to recover the artifacts and uncover the dark secrets behind them.
I was surprisingly invested in the story and characters despite the awkward voice acting (more on that later), but as a newcomer I felt like they could have done something to introduce us to the characters and world.
The gameplay is a mix-up of multiple genres: you’ve got tactical combat, stealth, and puzzle solving, but unfortunately they aren’t fleshed out enough to be interesting. The combat is by far the worst aspect of Sedna. A lock on targeting system is used and it can be difficult to lock onto your intended target. Instead it will often try to lock onto enemies in other rooms. Tactical mode allows you to pause the game and line up commands to execute, but it’s rarely even worth using. Combat devolves into simply running around hoping you can kill enemies before they can kill you while occasionally switching between characters to use an ability. There’s no real need for strategy.
Boss Fights aren’t very good either, they have terrible hit detection, often hitting you when their attacks aren’t even in the same square space, leading to infuriating deaths. There are only 2 interesting bosses towards the end of the game that relied on good character positioning and use of abilities. Depending on the situation, deaths will lead to a short and often times brutal cinematic before putting you back on the last checkpoint. Whilst these are skip-able the checkpoints are awkwardly placed before another cutscene or dialogue sequence, the latter of which is unskippable.
Stealth is as basic as it comes, crouch and avoid vision cones. That’s all you have to worry about. Getting detected means you must suffer through the combat so it’s well worth doing whenever possible. There is some satisfaction to be had in completely bypassing guards or clearing out the area without being seen. It’s not perfect but it is very much functional. The fixed isometric camera works fine most of the time, but it can occasionally be an issue when trying to sneak around. Sometimes vision cones can also be tricky to see.
Generally the puzzles are actually pretty good here, with the exception of one or two. Whilst not necessarily difficult, it can be fun to explore the environment to figure out the solutions. One of the earlier puzzles has you moving around archive shelves to avoid cameras, it’s simple but effective.
Sedna’s AI, however, is braindead. If someone notices a dead body all the guards in the area will rush over and just hover over it for a few minutes before returning back to normal patrol. This allowed me to break stealth on multiple occasions to wipe out an entire area in one move. Enemies will often stand out in the open or rush towards your position with no thought.
In spite of these problems I was for the most part impressed by the visual style. The cel-shaded visuals look great in both cutscenes and gameplay. Character models really stand out from the environment and give the game a really distinctive look. It’s not perfect however. The incredibly stiff and robotic animations really bring it down and some of the environments can be pretty uninspiring despite good variety.
When I said the voice acting is awkward, that’s an understatement. It can be flat out bad at times. There’s very little chemistry between the characters and the lines were obviously recorded separately. It’s a shame because I actually like these characters. The soundtrack is decent, nothing too memorable but nothing bad either. Elsewhere the sounds are just flat and weak.
The story took me around 8 hours to complete and there’s not much to see beyond that with the exception of a few alternate endings (which you can reload the save for). There’s also a small number of collectibles to unlock concept art. Not even alternate costumes or anything interesting!
Fear Effect: Sedna is full of half-baked ideas and it’s a shame because they are some good ideas. Puzzles are fun and the story is interesting but the minute to minute gameplay falls apart quickly.
Great cel-shaded art style that looks very distinctive but animations are very stiff
Feels incomplete. Awful combat, very basic but functional stealth. Thankfully some of the puzzles save the game.
Very poor voice acting and weapon sounds. Saved only by a decent enough soundtrack
Fun Factor: 5.5
A pretty good story and the occasionally good gameplay scenario carried me through Sedna
Final Verdict: 5.5
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Fear Effect: Sedna is available now on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch