Fear Effect Sedna Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Nintendo Switch, PC and Microsoft Xbox One
Fear Effect Sedna is the Kickstarted third instalment in the Fear Effect series of games. The game series is set in the real world but with elements of mysticism and mythology throughout, even the title belies this as Sedna is an Inuit Goddess. This entry changes things up however, where previous Fear Effects were more action based Sedna takes a more tactical approach. You view the world from a fixed isometric camera following whoever you are controlling through the various maps as you solve puzzles and shoot the bad guys.
With the more tactical approach comes a few interesting features which never feel fully realised. During combat you can pause and issue orders to all of your characters so that they execute their actions simultaneously so that you can flank enemies, lure them into mines and auto turrets or just repositon. Unfortunately more often than not the fights descend into health and healing management and holding the shoot button. Rarely are more complicated tactics necessary and often the AI results in quite anticlimactic fights. The first proper boss fight has you pitted against a possessed mech suit. The suit goes for a mix of attacks but is predominately close range which is an issue for a squishy human. Thankfully your character can dodge roll, so with some well timed movements you can eventually take it down. At least, that is what your instincts might be, in actuality you can just run around the arena stopping after each of the attacks to get a fire rounds into it. It turns out that as long as you keep moving you will rarely be hit, which is kind of a let down.
Even in larger scale battles it ends up coming down to health management. The enemy AI seems to obsessively stalk whichever character you are using which means every fight just involves healing and swapping characters, the same AI afflicts your units too with their aim being woeful most of the time. During a battle your characters will just stand still and fire if you aren't issuing orders, which is a shame because each character has a few different gadgets they could be using and the ability to set up some kind of specialised instructions would be a great addition. There is a lot of potential for complex tactics but it never feels encouraged or necessary which leads to some rather dull firefights.
Thankfully the game isn't all combat, large parts of your game time will be filled with exploring and puzzle solving. Unfortunately the movement speed of the characters is fairly slow, which wouldn't be too much of an issue if the game didn't involved an irritatingly large amount of back tracking. Having to go back to newly opened doors is a huge chore and you'll spend more time wishing that there was a sprint button than solving any of the games puzzles. One instance has the crew looking for a fingerprint to enter a building, to get the print you have to go back to a building and fine one from a corpse. This is despite the fact that a few feet from the door there will be bodies from the enemies you have taken out.
While this follows game logic some of the other brain teasers do not seem to follow anything. You get no instructions for any of the puzzles, which is fine, a challenge is always nice and there are some instances where the inherent obtuse nature of a solution makes a lot of sense. Some of the puzzles however just plop you straight into them with a screen which mimics nothing else you will see or have seen in the game so far. The issue with this is that you will probably fail a few times while figuring out exactly what the game wants from you. Each time you fail you are treated to a death animation and a game over screen, these can be skipped and reloading often takes you to the seconds preceding the start of the puzzle which is a great design choice and makes a lot of these sections more endurable than they would be otherwise.
While Fear Effect Sedna has a great amount of style to it the substance is somewhat wanting. Along with the gameplay issues come the writing itself, which has a few too many cliches and in one instance a character basically says "This time, it's personal". As it stands it would be hard to recommend the game to anyone, which is a shame because a lot of people must be looking forward to continuing the adventures of Hana and company but as present it feels as though it has lost something in the newest iteration. Whether this is due to the change of gameplay or just the series itself is hard to say but this is a game for die hard fans only.