Fear Effect Sedna (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 05.03.2018

Review for Fear Effect Sedna on PlayStation 4

Priceless artefacts from all over the globe are being stolen. Among them is a curious statuette that's believed to have mystical powers. Locating this relic is a task best suited to experts; men and women who have seen Hell and lived to tell about it. For Hana Tsu-Vachel and her partner Rain Qin, the life of a mercenary is all they have ever known. They have been promised a handsome reward if they can locate the statuette. Along for the ride is Jacob "Deke" Decourt, who's always up for a good time. Another long-time friend and partner, Royce Glas, has his own reasons for coming out of retirement. Together, they make a formidable team. However, when it comes to dealing with the spirit realm, these mercenaries are about to get more than what they bargained for. After one heck of a vacation, Hana and the gang are back in Fear Effect Sedna.

What's in a name? Names carry expectations. From the title alone, judgements are being made, and conclusions are drawn. Although this reviewer carries little in the way of nostalgic feelings for Fear Effect and its sequel, it is possible to recognise the impression they made back in the early 2000s. Cyberpunk games are depressingly few and far between. There's a certain edge to them that's quite remarkable. They depict futures that are ugly, a reflection of the hearts and souls that inhabit corporate-owned worlds. Everyone has a price, so determining the hero is all a matter of perspective. Hana, Glas, and Deke are mercenaries who will take any job. They are not fighting against the corrupt system, unless somebody pays them enough.

By comparison, Fear Effect Sedna is a little too clean, too sterile. The rough edges have been smoothed out, leaving behind a world that feels almost like a family-friendly tourist attraction. The original games had their problematic aspects, namely a penchant for sticking the central protagonist into skimpy clothing, but it did fit the aesthetic the writers were going for. The similarities to other Cyberpunk media, such as Ghost in the Shell and Aeon Flux, are quite noticeable. This entry sets a better, more progressive example for the characters of Hana and Rain, but it doesn't push the envelope in other ways. Despite the hundreds of hapless soldiers that are gunned down or blown up, the game feels less violent than its predecessors. The horror elements are also less pronounced, and the few monsters that appear are more laughable than scary. The storyline is adequate, but not particularly exciting, plus it's let down by clunky dialogue. In general, there's a lack of startling imagery or anything that sticks in the viewer's mind.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on PlayStation 4

While this entry has a much smaller budget than the previous releases, it could have utilised it in a better manner. Instead of stiff and robotically animated cut-scenes, the gameplay could be intercut with still images. Utilising expressive artwork during the important scenes would have been far more impactful. If that isn't possible, then something a little more stylised and personable might be preferable. A good example is the 2017 game, Ruiner. It worked within its limitations to deliver some memorable scenes.

Unlike the third-person shooters of the past, this entry opts for a more tactical approach. In almost every chapter, the player controls two or more mercenaries, each of them having their own set of weapons. Enemies patrol each area, and there's usually more than one way to take them down. The best method involves stealth, as enemies are instantly dealt with, negating the need to expend resources, such as health or special weapons. If the mercenaries are spotted, then it's all a matter of strategy and efficiency. The action can be paused at any time, allowing the opportunity to assign orders. Even something as simple as positioning can mean the difference between life and death. That means making use of cover, spreading everyone out to minimise AOE damage, and so on.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on PlayStation 4

When deciding on the best mercenary for the job, the current situation must be considered, as well as personal play-styles. Hana and Rain can take it slow and carefully, using mines and holograms to lure enemies into an early demise. Deke, with his missiles and napalm, is great for tearing through crowds. Turrets and stun grenades represent Glas' arsenal, making him useful in any scenario. Since the current party is always determined by the story, the player can't simply opt to use their favourites in every scenario. This helps to keep the game dynamic and interesting, as different mercenary combinations present new strategies. The boss encounters also do a reasonable job of changing things up.

Damage is governed by the "Fear Effect" system. Basically, as the mercenary's heart-rate increases, so will the damage they inflict and receive. Heart-rates tend to spike during prolonged battles, particularly boss fights. This can work to the player's advantage, such as when the arch-enemy has stunned itself, leaving them open to attack. However, anyone who isn't paying attention might get their entire party eliminated in a short time. All told, maintaining this balance isn't too strenuous. The gauge tends to normalise after most skirmishes. The level of difficulty is also generally on the low end. Players wishing to really challenge themselves should consider using as few med-kits as possible.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on PlayStation 4

Puzzle solving is also a constant fixture. Most of them involve the current environment, prompting players to look for any suspicious details. What's great about these puzzles is that they are just obtuse enough to feel rewarding, yet never get to the point where the average player will feel stuck. There were a couple times where this reviewer had to take notes, so that's something to be wary of. "Brute-forcing" a solution never works, which is also nice. Of course, this aspect becomes more of a nuisance on replays. There isn't a chapter select, and certain portions of the game can feel like a chore. Serving drinks at a party as Deke doesn't take more than a few minutes, but that time could be better spent elsewhere.

In the long run, Fear Effect Sedna's constant desire for variety is what keeps it from greatness. There are a lot of neat ideas in how combat is handled, but the game takes too many opportunities to switch gears. A lot of the mechanics come off as underutilised, and only a cursory knowledge of how everything works is required to progress. Granted, this is beneficial in a way, since it encourages players to seek their own challenges. However, there's just not enough of an incentive to play exceptionally. A ranking system that monitors performance would have been welcome.

Screenshot for Fear Effect Sedna on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


As mentioned earlier, a name carries expectations. Strictly in terms of game design, Fear Effect Sedna is quite possibly the strongest the series has ever been. However, it doesn't go far enough to make up for its deficiencies in atmosphere and storytelling. As it turns out, this title is as cold and distant as its locales and isometric perspective suggest. There's very little imagery to provoke thoughts or spark the imagination, just a high body count and a lot of swear words. Even if that were enough for a Cyberpunk game, it's handled in a manner that isn't stylish or memorable. All in all, this entry is a difficult recommendation, especially for Fear Effect fans.




Square Enix





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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