It’s been over fifteen years since Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix was released, a game from a series that stirred up quite a fuss back in the day. Despite the controversy, Fear Effect and its sequel performed quite well among gamers and critics alike. It’s a shame, then, that Fear Effect: Sedna is far removed from any quality that its predecessors articulately relayed. I cant even bring myself to recommending this to fans of the franchise. What’s even more disturbing is the thought that developer Sushee are working on a remake of the first game, but that’s clearly for another time. Here, it’s all about Sedna, and the squandered potential and missed opportunities that are littered throughout the entirety of play.
Sedna takes place a number of years after the first game’s perfect ending, in which mercenaries Hana and Rain are roped into retrieving an artifact located in Paris. From here, the story takes a dramatic turn as something much bigger, much darker, and much more powerful than initially conceived, creeps into view. It soon becomes apparent that a secret organisation is collectively pooling their efforts to resurrect the titular Sedna. Indeed, the story fits into series nicely, but that’s not to say that it’s executed particularly well. The voice acting, for starters, is shoddy. It’s as though each actor turned up for work, pumped up to the eyeballs with caffeine.
Seriously, try-hard is an understatement here. It’s that bad that it often becomes distracting, so much so that it soon becomes cringy as a result. The writing isn’t too bad, I have to admit, but when you tether sub-par writing to actors that just don’t have what it takes to relay the aforementioned quality, it knocks the game down several notches. I wish that that was the only criticism I had for this game, seeing as though I have fond memories of its predecessors, but truth be told, I have very few positive things to write about. Chief of them is the completely restructured gameplay mechanics. Mechanics that not only feel as though they belong in the nineties, but are far from engaging, or even interesting.
Sedna adopts a more tactical approach than the previous entries. The game is by and large, an isometrical tactical shooter. That’s right, wave goodbye to the survival horror gameplay that helped this series to stand out, and say hello to some of the most boring and repetitive gameplay since Yasai Ninja. You’re able to play the game by utilizing different characters, each playing somewhat differently to the next thanks to independent traits and skills. In an effort to avoid the horrendous gun combat within, I often relied on stealth. Sadly, that only leads me to yet another issue with the game. What good is cover, if the enemies can see through whatever object you’re hiding behind? Precisely!
Several times did I find myself alerting the enemy of my presence, simply by hiding from view. It’s tedious, and although it tends to only occur during the first half of the game, it only goes on to highlight how flawed this sequel really is. When you find yourself spotted by the enemy, it’s time to whip out your firearms and put down your opposition. I wont totally pull this game down for its combat, because there were times in which I was truly on the edge of my seat during a gunfight. These moments, however, are short-lived. It didn’t help matters that a dial-menu is present for barking orders at your crew, but barely ever feels like a necessary implementation. I must have used it a handful of times, in total.
It’s not that it doesn’t function well enough, on the contrary it handles perfectly. The game, on the other hand, is structured in such a way that you rarely ever need to use it. Furthermore, the majority of play takes place within poorly designed and dull environments. Nothing particularly stands out, it’s far too clinical and safe, which again only serves as an example to Sushee’s lack of care and attention to detail. The same can be said about the few puzzles that have been sprinkled in for good measure. These puzzles do very little to test anything but your patience, mostly requiring you to do nothing more than pay close attention to anything you can interact with. Some puzzles stand out better than others, but nowhere near enough to save the game from itself.
The difficulty curve is all over the place too, with tough puzzles and simplistic puzzles deployed in a fluctuating process, throughout. Even the staple Fear Effect mechanic feels underwhelming and pointless. Fear Effect determines how much damage you can dish out or sustain, based on how afraid your character is. Though, much like the command system, it doesn’t feel entirely necessary due to how lackluster the differences are. If I haven’t already made it clear enough, Fear Effect: Sedna is an awful game that just doesn’t achieve the same status as the previous entries. Some baffling design choices literally had my jaw wide open, and when you take into account that this game gets ten things wrong for any singular thing it gets right, it doesn’t relay much hope for the remake of the original.
Fear Effect: Sedna is a bad game. Sushee’s confusing design choices are splattered everywhere in sight; ridiculous voice acting, poor level structure, frustrating puzzles, and shoddy combat, to name but a few. The overall product remains tedious, boring, and underwhelming, throughout.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.