Do you remember Fear Effect? It was that old PS1 game that had the Resident Evil style camera angle. Yeah, that one with that’s remembered as a classic thanks to it’s marketing campaign?
Well, that franchise is back with Fear Effect Sedna on Kickstarter. This time, the game is “borrowing” from the recent rise in isometric, turn based strategy games. It’s a top down, squad-based strategy game, similar to other Kickstarted games like Wasteland 2, Broken Age, Banner Saga, Shadowrun Returns, and Divinity Original Sin. Should I go on?
The new developers, Sushee, do have an explanation for the gameplay change.
“But the story, the characters and their relationships are a huge part of what made the game such a classic. Fulfilling a mission together, they will interact a lot, and not only during cinematic cutscenes, but also while you play.
“The second point that made us choose tactical view and combat is that we wanted them not only to interact verbally, but also act together. We wanted to see Rain being proud of Hana actually change the way she fights. We wanted to see Deke’s thirst for blood change the way the others react.”
The old clunky camera angles from the original Fear Effect and Resident Evil games aren’t in style anymore, for good reason. But I can’t help but feel that turning what was an action game into an isometric, tactical strategy game is a cynical move to capitalize on the latest trend. This is the franchise that sold itself on half-naked lesbians after all. Who could forget the infamous tagline?
Yes, the infamous relationship between Willow and Miranda wasn’t so much an effort to bring diversity to gaming as it was to sell copies. You probably didn’t even know their names aren’t Willow and Miranda.
To their credit, Sushee does address their relationship in Sedna.
“Hana & Rain are in relationship, and there is no doubt about this!
“The only thing that we will be careful about is not to over-sexualise this love relationship, that has been probably clumsily highlighted in some marketing campaigns in Fear Effect Retro Helix, and wasn’t doing justice to these two strong characters’ love affair.”
We’ll see how well that goes, but an out of context shot of Rain giving Hanna a back-rub in bed when in their lingerie, while Hanna strokes a pistol isn’t giving me much hope. Oh, that’s not their names either by the way.
Fans might remember a previous Fear Effect game, Inferno, which was canceled. Sushee says Sedna isn’t the third game in the franchise, yet it takes place after the events of the first game – Fear Effect 2 was a prequel. Almost nothing is known about Fear Effect Inferno, though Sushee says they “respect” it for “creating a consistent scenario for Sedna.” How much Sushee knows about Inferno isn’t specified, though they are working with Square Enix’s Collective program for indie developers. According to Sushee, they aren’t funding the game because that would also mean they would take a majority of the profits as well.
I’m sure there are genuine fans of the Fear Effect franchise, the Kickstarter’s already surpassed $48,000 of its $114,000 goal. However, this whole campaign feels so cynical. From the marketing, the change of gameplay style, and even the developers saying they’re doing a Kickstarter just so they can take the majority of the profits. That’s not to mention its following the craze of bringing back franchises that have been dead for a decade or so.
Sedna does seem to be an improvement on the original games. From what little we’ve seen the writing seems better, and despite the questionable change in gameplay style, it certainly looks like a big improvement over Fear Effect 1. Sedna very well could be a good game, it could be a great game made by people who loved the original games and want to do right by them. But the Fear Effect Sedna Kickstarter can’t shake it’s more cynical roots.
Track the progress of the Fear Effect Sedna Kickstarter in our Campaign Calendar.