Fear Effect Sedna PS4 Review

March 30, 2018 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Square Enix, Forever Entertainment  Developer: Sushee  Genre: Action/Stealth  

Players: 1  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

To say Fear Effect Sedna doesn’t hold your hand is a bit of an understatement. Harking back to old school games, the difficulty won’t hinder the most hardcore of gamers, but will certainly give those looking for a bit of casual fun a difficult time.

Fear Effect Sedna is the third game in the Fear Effect series, a series that had been dormant for 17 years, with a remake of the original game also on the way. Sedna follows a group of agents who are looking for an ancient artefact, but soon discover something a little bit more unusual. Story-wise, it’s not the most well written of plots, though manages to tie in well with cutscenes. Cutscenes are cell shaded, giving the game a very comic-book style appearance, though you won’t care much about the main cast of characters, the voice acting of which sounds on par with Amazon’s Alexa.

Characters each carry their own variety of guns, as well as their own specialist weapons.

The motley crew of agents you follow includes Hana and Rain (who will only be remembered for being lesbian lovers), Axel, Glas, and an Australian, Deke, whose voice feels very miscast. The characters are mostly dull, generic and uninteresting, and are only there to move along the plot as opposed to having their own personal arcs, character development or impact on the story.

Gameplay is a mixed bag of frustrating – but still very well designed – puzzles, designed to test your patience, and action. The puzzles can be very trial and error, though do give you that air-fist-bump moment upon completion.

Action on the other hand consists of bombarding you with a ton of enemies, and I loathe this brain-dead style of gameplay. Your only purpose here is to dodge well out of the way of enemies and shoot, shoot, shoot until they die. One of the first boss encounters had me fuming; characters can perform a dodge manoeuvre where they will simply roll out of the way of an attack, except with the first boss, no sooner had you rolled away was the thing upon you, like a fly on dog poop. Compared to this fight, subsequent bosses are rather underwhelming.

The human enemies you encounter on your explorations aren’t too difficult to deal with though, and that is mostly thanks to the inept AI. Human enemies, such as guards and patrolmen, are at their worst when they are in large numbers, but your characters can move into stealth mode, allowing you to see their vision cones which you only need to avoid, and which allows you to divide and conquer.

The game doesn’t hold your hand, forgoing any waypoints and maps, and not giving any indication of how many enemies are on-screen – but that could just be bad design!

In stealth mode, you can take down an enemy, and if don’t hide the body, other guards will see it but it’s certainly not going to cause you any concern, and it is actually quite humorous how they react to their fallen comrade. Upon seeing a downed guard, others will simply run over to them and spin around, looking confused, as though the knocked-out guard has simply past out drunk, before going back on their patrol routes. They don’t raise an alarm, search the area, or stay on alert – they will simply go back on their routes as if nothing happened.

Another aspect of the game is that you can pause and plan your movements before entering an area. You can move characters about the map and place them in specific locations in order to ambush groups of enemies, though I never really made use of this as much as I probably should, gathering as many medical kits as I could find and simply going in guns blazing and hoping for the best. Still, considering I managed to progress pretty much unscathed makes this strategy aspect a little bit pointless.

As the title of the game implies, fear is also supposed to play a part, affecting how characters handle during combat; the more they fear, the more difficult they will be to handle. However, I didn’t really see much difference in how they handled, and it’s disappointing that the fear aspect acts more like a health bar, given a fancier name to make it more appealing. If your ‘fear’ bar is low, you even use a medical kit to heal yourself, much like you would do with a normal health bar. Fear has been used to much better effect in other games, and here perhaps two separate bars, one for health and one for fear, would have been a better approach, allowing players to manage both instead of the fear/health acting as one and the same.

You get to control multiple characters at once, though it’s a shame they are never placed all together in puzzles. They are useful against larger groups of enemies though, each character acting as backup if another is defeated.

There are snippets of gameplay that is enjoyable, such as one section with Deke, in which you have to eavesdrop on people at a formal party, all whist serving drinks and remaining inconspicuous, and another section in which Rain must simply find a way through a back door at a museum without alarming civilians, but other than this, gameplay is pretty standard.

At certain points you also get to control multiple characters, and you would think this would make for some interesting puzzles, but instead, characters will split up into teams, with gameplay simply switching from one team to the other. You never use more than one character during a puzzle, with the other(s) simply following behind. There is strength in numbers, and so having multiple characters is useful when faced with multiple enemies, but having puzzles which makes use of all of them together, showing some actual teamwork, is a missed opportunity.

There is some variation to be had to shake up gameplay, with certain sections being fun to play and breaking up the action and gunplay, and as well as human enemies you’ll also encounter supernatural beings and other creatures that make up the different band of foes you have to face. Still, Fear Effect Sedna is a bit of a disappointing outing, with bland characters, unbalanced gameplay and mechanics that aren’t put to very good use, and throws a lot at you to see what sticks. Puzzles, as difficult as they can be, can still be praised for being very well designed, but the action here is rather limp, choosing to bombard you rather than encouraging you to use any kind of tactics, with AI enemies that don’t seem to realise what they should be doing.