Independent developer Sushee has created a game that relies heavily on using your brain to solve problems through both the use of puzzles and how best to make an attack on guards and other creatures as you work your way through the main story. You will take control of Hana, Rain, Deke, and Glas as you join them on an adventure that starts as a journey involving artifacts and twists its way into something far more dark and sinister. Fear Effect Sedna takes you around the world as your team uses stealth, battle tactics, and puzzle solving to achieve their goal.
When I first loaded up this title I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into as I had never played a Fear Effect game before. I don’t know the history of the characters and I didn’t know what type of game this was going to be. At first, I was a little frustrated with the control scheme. I felt like the actual gunplay portions of the isometric view were less than appealing. As someone who enjoys games like Zelda and Uncharted, I have become accustomed to the ability to select the target I would like to shoot at. It was nice that they gave us up to three different weapons for each character, however some of the weapons were difficult to use and seemed to be less destructive than I would think they would be as a special weapon.
One of the characters has a crossbow and you must hit the directional digital pad to choose this weapon to wield. This is fine, but what I found strangely annoying was the fact that after I fire a weapon like that crossbow, it switches back automatically to the primary weapon, which is usually a single or pair of handguns. If I wanted to fire off another shot, I had to take my thumb off the movement stick to change back to that weapon should I want to use it again. What that forced me to do was stop my character and risk getting hit during a boss battle to switch to something that might be a little more powerful than my main weapon. This doesn’t sound that bad until I mix in the little tidbit that some weapons automatically lock on an enemy and others require you to move the right stick to either select a target area or change your aiming direction. There is also no explanation made during gameplay that tells you what the new weapons you have attained do nor how to use them. You just need to try them out.
Stealth mode is basic and works like most stealth games. When you crouch to enter stealth mode you are switched to a crouching stance, move slower, and can see the field of vision of the enemies on your screen signified by the typical cone of vision. If you can sneak up on the enemy without them seeing you then you can hit the A button for a single hit kill. You can’t tell if a box or wall is going to shield you from the sight of an enemy except a diagonal bar pattern behind them. This is where I realized that playing on the handheld screen just isn’t nearly as good as playing on a larger television so that you can see this shading difference. There were many times where I was hunkered down behind what I thought was a wall or a barrier only to find out it was a railing or something like glass they could see through. That blew my cover and alerted the entire world to my location leaving me as vulnerable as General Custer or a quarterback with a terrible offensive line.
When you die, and you will die and see the game over screen a lot, you can skip the game over screen or death animation if you’ve seen it enough by holding the B button. Great! Thank you! Oh, but now you’re going to force me to wait through a 5 to 20 second loading screen, followed by conversations that I have to keep pressing the A button to speed through since I’ve already seen them or hold B again to speed through the cut scenes. I’m already getting frustrated due to the pathetic aiming system, the idiocy of the other members of my party who refuse to duck and cover, or the puzzles that typically just end up being trial and error. Listen, in my mind I’m playing a game to immerse myself into the character I’m playing as and trying to figure it out as they would have to. I enjoy solving puzzles, figuring out the best way to attack a base, or sneaking up on some guard for a one hit kill as much as the next gamer. What irritates me is this idea that you have one shot to solve it or you’re dead. It doesn’t start a gun battle where you could possibly win, it doesn’t result in you being thrown in a holding cell. Nope. Just game over, man, GAME OVER! Then it’s the holding of the B button, the waiting for the loading, and the holding of the B button again or mashing the A button to get through the cut scene to get back to the spot you were in. I put in about as many hours as I could handle of this before I finally just threw my arms up in an irritable growl of anger.
Graphics are fine, sounds are fine, story is pretty good. I didn’t give a crap about any of the characters in the story and that was made quite apparent by the fact that I didn’t care what happened. I never felt any kind of connection to any of them nor did I get all excited about each cliff hanger they tried to leave me on. Most of the time I played this I was bored or pissed off. The voice acting of the cut scenes is pretty good. I even enjoy the cell shaded, comic book looking cut scenes. Most of the story is told through conversations that are made up of still shots of the character that comes up while they are talking. For the price of admission, though, I thought it was done well enough. You can’t expect Final Fantasy XV cutscene quality for a game that costs a third as much at release. Well, you can… but you’d be disappointed most of the time.
I don’t think I could easily recommend this game to anyone who would call themselves a casual gamer. In fact, I’d have a hard time finding a way to recommend this title to any of my friends. I found it to be far more frustrating and annoying than enjoyable. The puzzle aspects are a challenge, but the punishment for failure with the load times and the cut scene speed through got to be unbearable. The characters are bland and unrelatable, the stealth aspect is mediocre at best, and the tactical part that they are touting is basically just a good way to position your team in a way that gets them killed faster so you can quit. The only way I could recommend that someone purchase this game is if you bought it on Steam for your PC and played it for 1 hour and 55 minutes within their return policy so that you could get your money back if you found the experience to be as frustrating and unrewarding as I did.
Fear Effect Sedna was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.