[Review] Fear Effect: Sedna (Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Sushee & Forever Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Strategy, Action & Puzzle
Release Date: 6th of March, 2018 (EU & NA)
The year was 1999, where Manchester United won the treble, Tomb Raider was about to jump the shark with its fourth entry, and a new Star Wars movie was to premiere, to the disappointment to many I’ll add. But also, there was a game that I didn’t expect to like. It was a game that I spotted in an issue of ‘GamesMaster’ magazine, as a ‘Tomb Raider Killer’. The 10-year old self of me was intrigued, and proceeded to rent it from Blockbuster for a weekend.
Fear Effect spanned four discs, due to the many ‘Full Motion Video’ clips that give the game its atmosphere, which could best be described as a Blade Runner meets Onimusha, meets Ghost in the Shell. But it was fun, with a design and a charm that kept you playing. I missed the second entry, the prequel called ‘Retro Helix’, released eighteen months later, due to moving onto the PlayStation 2. I had heard a few years later that the third entry, ‘Fear Effect: Inferno’ was cancelled, and the franchise was rested.
Until 2016, when the franchise was resurrected by a company by the name of ‘Sushee’, a company based in France who were big fans of the series. Square-Enix have long had many franchises, mainly due to acquisitions. But with a focus on their primary IP’s, their indie division, ‘Square Enix Collective’ have been willing to give some of their lesser-known franchises to other developers. Hence Sushee being given the rights for a new entry, but with their own handle on it. But they still needed funding. Enter Kickstarter.
The campaign launched in April of 2016, where it was funded after just thirty days, and looking at the page, you can see why. Incredible amounts of detail due to a prototype they designed, and concept art which gave potential backers a good idea of what the game eventually became. No doubt thanks to the Switch’s success in its ﬁrst year, it was announced last August that a Switch port was in development too. But, does it match up to the last two entries? Almost.
Fear Effect: Sedna is a unique entry. Where it’s being familiar to older fans, but introducing itself to newer ones. Without spoiling the story, it follows a different kind of mythology from the previous games, following the Inuit kind. All the characters return, such Hana, Rain, Glas and Deke, alongside a new character called Axel. Set a few years after Fear Effect 1, Hana is a freelance assassin, nearing the big 3-0. Living in Hong Kong with Rain, they ﬁnd a random guy at their apartment, which starts off this spin-off of an adventure. There are seven chapters, which goes from Hong Kong to, not Hong Kong. Alongside the IP, Sushee also had access to the cancelled ‘Inferno’ script, which allowed them to see what could have been, while also having help from the original game’s writer for the full story. Here is where you can tell that its deﬁnitely Fear Effect.
It’s not a weak fan-game or a mod as you see from other games from the corners of the internet. It’s a well-made spin-off that appeals to everyone, young and old. There was a romantic relationship between Hana and Rain, the main characters in the last two games, and in the late nineties, it was ground-breaking. Here, in this day and age, it’s gladfully a normality, and passed by like any other love story, where you feel as though the characters are already fully ﬂeshed out by the time Chapter 1 ends, regardless if you’re playing Fear Effect for the ﬁrst time.
You control both of the characters at ﬁrst, alongside others that you meet again. By a press of the ZL trigger, you can easily switch between them. Games before like Resident Evil Zero have used this feature before, and worked well, but not for an isometric game before. Sedna uses it very well, especially with the fact that you don’t have to share any ammo or medi-kits between the two characters. But before I continue, I have to mention the return of the Game Over cut-scenes. These were a staple of the previous games, where they would happen at random times, I suspect because of the space on a CD-ROM disk.
If you failed a certain puzzle, or overrun by a group of henchman, you’d see a cut-scene where you would, see the result. But to me, it was always comedic, never violent. It happened at the start of the game, where I was trying to diffuse a bomb. One wrong move, and the cut-scene plays of death for Hana and Rain. These are scattered throughout the game, and sometimes you’ll want to fail the puzzle or simply die, just to see if the cut-scene plays. Each chapter gives a varied environment and none feel the same from each other. Unfortunately, there’s no Chapter Select, but there are enough save slots to have your own save states, similar to the original game in fairness. So you can easily go back to your favourite part, if you have it saved. Yet, it’s a strange dilemma.
This is a spin-off of a series that I thought ended abruptly, and so if this was based off a completely new series, would I like it the same? After playing through the game the past month, I have decided that yes, I would still play Sedna, and still enjoy it as I am now. The atmosphere is great, especially when you plug some headphones into the Switch. The music and graphics are well-made, with the cut-scenes making you want to see where it all leads to in Chapter 7.
Throughout the game, you have a ‘Fear Meter’, which shows in the top left of the screen. Sometimes the character you’re controlling will be fearful, and in effect (see what I did there?) will become stronger to overtake enemies, but at the risk of taking more damage from them. There’s a useful ability which I didn’t use much after the tutorial of it from Chapter 1, but a ‘Stealth Mode’ is at your disposal. When activated, it shows the ﬁeld of vision from the enemies, alongside any objects that can help you hide behind so they won’t see you.
There’s also a ‘Tactical Mode’, which I used even less of, where you can guide the second character who is alongside you at the time. You can have them lead into a certain direction and to abide by certain instructions you’ll give them, similar to the games of ‘Abe’s Oddysee’ almost. With the music, composer ‘Matt Furniss’ from the original games has come back to score. If you think it’s still like this, you’d be right, and it still sounds great. It adds to the atmosphere once more, and makes you feel that you’re back in that world.
Overall, it’s a fun game, with well-made art and the feeling that the developers knew what they were doing when they were handed access to the IP. It’s a spin-off, a light tread into the waters of Fear Effect, but a great one at that. Alongside the very varied chapters with places that hit you with familiarity and unexpectedness, it makes you want to see where it all leads, and where it does lead to, gives you a smile just as much as the game-over cut-scenes do. Sedna has been received well by fans, old and new, and now they’re in the middle of developing the remake of the original game, which is also being developed for the Switch, and that’s something I’m looking forward to, as much as Smash Bros! If you have a PS3, load up the PlayStation Store, or click this here and see where it all began for Hana.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*Review Key Provided by Forever Entertainment
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This post was written by Daryl