The perks of reviewing games are getting to come across titles you normally wouldn’t have considered under “normal” circumstances. Fear Effect: Sedna is one of those. And this one was definitely a rollercoaster ride of “What the heck?!” “Wait what?!” “No way!” By virtue of my never having played its predecessor released back in 2000, I had no point of reference in the characters’ backstories as well as the game’s style of storytelling. But this did not dampen my experience of Fear Effect Sedna at all.
For those unaware of the Fear Effect series, it follows a group of mercenaries that earn their keep through completing rather dodgy missions. In the first title, Fear Effect, the characters receive the task of a kidnapping to prevent another kidnapping. Unfortunately, things get way more complicated than they should and with every chapter, events get darker.
Fear Effect: Sedna continues the stories of the mercenaries-for-hire sometime after the events of the previous game. This would be my first introduction to the characters.
Let the game begin…
Beginning with a curious cutscene, a mercenary is given a plane ticket and experiences an unsettling hallucination. The backdrop changes and we meet two badass female mercs who are in Hong Kong – Hana and Rain. The assignment is to retrieve some very valuable cargo in a secure building. And this is where gameplay begins. This mission served as a much-appreciated tutorial for me. Everything from combat, special skills, health, puzzles, and a special feature mode called Tactic. I found this helpful to get the hang of the mechanics of the gameplay. Upon successful completion of the mission, the game really begins. (And don’t let anyone judge you for blowing up a few times while you were trying to figure out the clues to solve the puzzle).
A not-so-simple job offer…
Fear Effect: Sedna takes place after an unknown man appears in Hana and Rain’s apartment offering a well-paying job with a simple-enough mission: infiltrate the Chinese Embassy in Paris and retrieve a statuette. For Hana, this sounds great. Because now she can also get time to find out more about her birthplace – a mystery to her.
Simple as it may sound, reinforcements come needed in the form of Deke, and Glas, other mercs with the experience needed to pull this job off. From traveling the world to Inuit mythology, there’s a lot to process and play through. Fear Effect: Sedna took many unexpected turns in the story and left me feeling like I need to pause for a while to digest how I got here. This was not a bad thing, but understandable as my hands-on experience with the Fear Effect series.
Let’s get into the gameplay.
Gameplay: Skills, tactics, puzzles, and action!
Fear Effect: Sedna plays as an isometric third-person shooter. You can switch between characters at any given time, provided that the characters are available and present in the environment. This was nice as some puzzles required characters in a separate location to solve. In combat, it is useful to have backup by switching to characters to control in order to survive.
With Fear Effect: Sedna, each character possesses unique skillsets, utilized when the relevant ammo is equipped. Hana, for example, has a skill called Bouncing Bullet, which hits multiple enemies with a single shot. Looting ammo boxes will show you any ordinary ammunition you’ve acquired. As well as special skill ammo along with the name of the user of the said special ammunition. Getting to know the different mercenary skills was nice and had a decent learning curve.
Tactics – it’s all in the planning…
There is a mode in Fear Effect: Sedna you can enter when in combat – Tactic. In tactic mode, time is paused to plan out your character’s moves and actions ahead of time. From their path to the shots and even stealth. You can cancel and restart your planning if you’re not satisfied. Once you’re happy with your planning you can accept it and watch it play out. If like me, you completed your tactic planning and had it play only to see enemies you didn’t see before, then you can directly control a character to adapt to the real-time situation. It spared me from a lot of egg on my face a few times.
You can also plan your characters to combine their special skill moves to make for a more powerful attack. I struggled to get the hang of this one, but once I did, boy did I have fun with it (when I had the ammo of course). Health is also an important factor in how you get through Fear Effect: Sedna. Your played character’s health and heart rate is monitored on the top left screen. Keep it in the green. This is where fear comes into play.
Stay Healthy folks…
When your character gets injured, almost dies, or experiences a stressful situation particular to them, their heart rate will spike. An increased level of fear will enable the character to deal more damage, but make them more susceptible to injury as their resilience decreases. In order to reduce fear and heal injuries, you will need a Medikit. These are collectible throughout the different levels. Should you have the need for a Medikit, use it in a secluded and safe location as it takes time to fully kick in. The Medikit can revive other characters who have died – provided that you yourself are still alive long enough to administer it.
I mentioned puzzles earlier on, because there is no escaping them in Fear Effect: Sedna. Many levels will require you to solve some sort of puzzle to progress. Clues come scattered throughout the level. Sometimes you will need to go back to catch what you might have missed earlier on. Not all puzzles need clues to solve, others just need your brain juice a ton of patience. My gamer pride got me through Fear Effect: Sedna’s puzzles – I couldn’t quit because I had to see what was going to happen next.
In terms of gameplay, there were a lot of enjoyable moments in Fear Effect: Sedna. I give it points for that one.
The joys and pains of the game
The visuals were really nice. I enjoyed the graphic novel/comic book art style of the characters and how they translated into the cutscenes. The soundtrack provided the necessary vibes with each level and environment. Fear Effect: Sedna did well with their audio and visuals.
Here is my biggest issue with Fear Effect: Sedna – the voice acting. I struggled to get into the game as much because the voice acting was just not as convincing as I would have liked. I am a sucker for a well-delivered narrative in video games. Yes, this story was not entirely perfect, but it definitely had potential had the acting been matching the plot. In some scenes, in which the characters were in unexpected danger and shock, but I couldn’t get that emotion from the voices. I feel like that really took away from how much better Fear Effect: Sedna could have been.
Overall, I can say that Fear Effect: Sedna is a decent game. With tons of potential, I’ll be keeping my eye out for this series in the future.