Fear Effect: Sedna Review

Richard Walker

Presumably, everyone expected a new Fear Effect game to follow the lead of its predecessors Fear Effect and sequel Retro Helix, but rather than adopting the mould of third-person shooter, Fear Effect Sedna is an altogether different beast. An isometric top-down affair boasting stealth mechanics, some tactical leanings and a generous helping of puzzles, Sedna isn't quite what we were expecting from the series' long-awaited return.

Early on, things seem promising enough, as you're introduced to the game's stealth and given a fairly straightforward puzzle to solve, but gradually, the quality of the game – or rather, lack thereof – starts to show. From a storytelling perspective, Fear Effect Sedna doesn't appear to have moved on from the early 2000s, with shabby cut-scenes and some of the most painful dialogue I've seen in years. Some of the lines delivered don't even make sense and the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired (Axel's French accent sounding distinctly German the least of the crimes on show here).

Some of the game's puzzles are quite clever and fairly well-implemented, but for every smartly orchestrated conundrum, there's one that leans too heavily on trial and error, greeting you with a laughable failure cut-scene and 'game over' screen each time you screw up. A poor narrative and shoddy presentation might be forgiveable, however, were it not for the game's litany of fundamental shortcomings, too numerous to list in full here. Suffice it to say, Fear Effect Sedna falls down in practically every conceivable department.

Each of the five main characters you play as have different skills, some of which are useful, most of which are completely ineffectual. Rain's 'lure', for instance, projects a decoy of sorts that's supposed to attract enemies. Instead, my chosen character set the decoy as a priority target, firing at that rather than the hostiles surrounding them. Later on, my character targeted an enemy closed off behind a wall, instead of the enemies charging from down the corridor. Glas has a deployable turret too, which explodes within about three seconds. Hana's bouncing bullet is useless and Deke's rocket launcher has a mind of its own. It's glaring flaws like these that make Sedna a trying ordeal at times.

By and large, adopting stealthy tactics also goes out of the window fairly early on, as your field-of-view is needlessly obscured by the map's 'fog of war' and your partner characters will idiotically stand out in the open, blowing your cover. There is a tactical view that pauses the action, so you can move your companions into cover, then meticulously plan and queue up your actions. But seriously, when a game is this piss poor, who can be bothered? When you can easily blast through baddies and administer a medikit when things get difficult, stealth and tactics become totally redundant.

Throw in a narrative that revolves around Inuit folklore, supernatural bobbins and inhumane human experiments in DNA splicing to create weird creatures, and you have a recipe for disaster. The irredeemably awful boss battles only serve to exacerbate what is already a pretty wretched experience, the only small mercy being that it's all over fairly quickly. Fear Effect Sedna is scary alright, but for all the wrong reasons.

Fear Effect: Sedna

A failed attempt at resurrecting a cult favourite, Fear Effect Sedna is a tactical shooter in which tactics are largely irrelevant. Atrocious cut-scenes, dreadful boss encounters and dire presentation overall, make this something better left in the past. Steer well clear.

Form widget
30%
Audio
40%

Appalling vocal performances, forgettable music... Fairly lacklustre all-round.

Visuals
30%

Fear Effect probably looked just as good upon its original release eighteen years ago. Sedna looks remarkably dated, dreary and just unappealing.

Playability
30%

At first, Sedna seems quite solid, but then it all falls apart at the seams. The stealth gameplay is pointless and any attempt at tactical play is undermined by the fact that you can effortlessly shoot your way through the game. Janky execution throughout makes this one to avoid.

Delivery
30%

Fear Effect Sedna is only a few hours long, but it feels interminable. There are some irritating bugs to be found at the least convenient times, and the puzzles are hit and miss. The overall presentation is severely lacking.

Achievements
40%

Hats off to anyone who can be bothered to complete this list. It's a dull, unimaginative grind, and so the perfect complement for the game.

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