Fear Effect Sedna (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 15.03.2018

Review for Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch

Fear Effect, and its prequel on PlayStation, were a couple of gritty cyberpunk survival-horror games. Back in the day, they were cutting edge with how they leveraged their limitations to have such an impressive and slick presentation that utilised looping, pre-rendered backgrounds that gave the world a life of its own. Characters were designed in a pseudo-anime aesthetic, inspired by the likes of Ghost in the Shell and even managed to fake cel-shading: an effect that would ensure these two's visuals would age gracefully. Back when these were new, the gameplay could be best described as a Resident Evil knock-off, with a bigger emphasis on difficulty and obtuse puzzle design. It's been decades since then, and now Fear Effect is back with a completely new developer, under a different publisher, and new approach to gameplay, with Fear Effect Sedna.

When Square Enix announced that it was going to let indie developers attempt to revitalise some of its dormant properties, Sushee Games (who made the very impressive Goetia under the Square Enix Collective mantel) took the chance on the former Eidos release, Fear Effect. With Fear Effect Sedna, Sushee had a radical notion that fans of the previous horror-adventure games wanted some kind of half-hearted, overhead tactical title. Anyone who has ever played a Fear Effect in the past, and then looked at Sedna, should have tons of red flags flying up because so much of what helped defined the feel and atmosphere of the original and Retro Helix is gone. The foreboding mood is gone and replaced with a very sterile and clean veneer, which just does not fit with established noir-ish, cyber setting. It all feels so plain and generic, with no life to it. The past games prided themselves on atmosphere and had every backdrop be an elaborate production with motion to it. Sedna should have aimed higher.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch

Sushee did not miss the mark entirely, though. There is some legitimate thought put into Sedna but so much of it is poorly executed. The most obvious mistake was to make this into some kind of strategy-action game that has a fog-of-war mechanic. Even on its own merits, if Sedna was divorced from the Fear Effect name, the gameplay is so sloppy and made worse due to unintuitive button mapping. The fog of war effect the designers went with is an eye sore, which has a flickering darkness effect that never stops. It becomes headache-inducing after a while, and makes the game look like a murky mess. The gameplay offers an alternative mode from the glitchy strategy mode, which controls more like a typical twin-stick shooter. This is the best way to play but also makes most of the action a cake-walk, since there are friendlies that always come back from dying after a skirmish. The balancing in the battles is just too easy and there is no punishment for playing poorly. Health kits are plentiful and downed enemies often carry more, so stakes are never high.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch

The original Fear Effect releases were extremely difficult and while they had their own problems, which were due to overly complex control schemes with poor mapping, there was a great sense of accomplishment when making progress, because seeing what happened next was exciting. The environments were stylish, dense with atmosphere, and fixed camera angles made every shot visually striking. Sedna opts for a very distant isometric point of view; a sharp downgrade from its predecessors. Understandably, making a tactical action game with character juggling just was not going to work with an old timey survival-horror formula and a new approach was ultimately required. Is this how the game should have been made? If the goal was to re-introduce gamers to the world of Fear Effect, why not play it safe? The one aspect from the originals that Sushee Games seems to understand well is how to make obtuse puzzles and how to make vague hints that are clued in cut-scenes and in the environment. For better and for worse, this is how the old games functioned, too, and it is the one quality that should not have survived. A little trial-and-error can give a game's difficulty some character but going too far with it will only make people hate it. At times, Sedna can walk that line dangerously close. Get used to seeing that game over screen.

If there is one thing Sushee has to be given credit for, it is that the team is certainly confident in the property: characters are introduced and interact with each other as if the gap between Sedna and the past entries are non-existent, as if every aspect in the scenario has been established. Character models are supposed to advance with technology, and while the figures in Sedna are technically better, they somehow look more uncanny than the low poly PlayStation models. Everyone looks and moves unnaturally and faces have a rubber doll quality to them.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch

The shadow maps on characters are baked onto their models, so the shadows and highlights never move, employing the same faked cel-shading effect from the originals. This kind of technique was fine on the old PS1, but there is no excuse for it today. Even worse, the cut-scenes appear to be low resolution videos and on the Switch version there are tons of highly visible artefacts and noise in these cut-scenes. Since the visuals rely on flat colours, the pixelation becomes very distracting in scenes and generally makes for some hideous presentation.

Those who are able to look past the lacklustre visual presentation will not be able to ignore the laughable voice acting. It is extremely difficult to not bring up the original games because for their time they were impressive in many aspects, one of which was the voice acting and dialogue. Sedna has some real head scratchers in terms of line readings. Some characters' accents slip or they are just poorly miscast, like in the case of Deke, who sounds like a young guy doing his best to sound like he is a man in his late 40s. It sounds so forced that the character doesn't feel believable.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


Fear Effect Sedna is a confusing production. It is hard to say who this game was meant to appeal to, but it is most definitely not fans of Fear Effect or Fear Effect: Retro Helix. After years upon years of waiting and seeing the aborted PlayStation 2 sequel, Inferno, never come to light, Sedna paints a bleak future for this series. It is a sloppy mess that gets off on the wrong foot, only to shoot itself in the foot right after. It is a weird hodgepodge of body horror, cyberpunk sleaze, and secret agent shenanigans that, in theory, should work, but don't. Probably because of the developer misunderstanding the importance of tone and pacing.




Square Enix





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Comments are currently disabled

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Flynnie, jesusraz, RudyC3

There are 3 members online at the moment.