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Fear Effect Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 71%
Fear Effect
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  • Review Score:

  • B
As I said before, the fifth generation was a transitional period in video game history. Most people just think of the switch from 2D to 3D, but it's more than that. It's also a change from primarily catering to kids to appealing to adults. There were M-rated games on Genesis and Super Nintendo as well as the embarrassing interactive pornos on the 3DO, but the Playstation was one of the first consoles to bring truly adult themes to gaming. Fear Effect is a prime example of that.

The best description for Fear Effect would be "interactive anime", and the plot and style fit that description. The plot involves three mercenaries searching for the daughter of a Triad boss in Hong Kong who's due to be sacrificed to a demonic cult. The plot goes all over the place like any great anime, and I never saw any of the twists coming. There are even multiple endings based on a decision made near the end, but it is pretty cheap that the best ending is only available when playing on "Hard".

Fear Effect (PlayStation)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The game looks and sounds impressive by PS1 standards. The game uses the same style as Resident Evil with polygonal characters and prerendered backgrounds but adds a distinctive flair. The characters are stylized with some light cel-shading to give them an anime look that really works. The backgrounds use prerendered video rather than static images to bring Hong Kong to life. Not only do the video backgrounds look impressive for the time, but the movement in the background also brilliantly provides clues to the game's many puzzles. The resets when the video loops are noticeable but don't hurt the game. The score is very atmospheric, and the voice acting is mostly good with only the occasional over-the-top performance which one could argue fits anime to a T.

The gameplay is mostly good but has a few blemishes that keep the game from an "A". The puzzles are creative brainteasers that really test your observation and critical thinking. I do, however, wish that there weren't so many time limits on them. The navigation uses the tank controls of Resident Evil which do hurt in some ways. Several puzzles involve precise movement to get across things like electrified floors, and the controls are too sluggish to get through those on the first try. The roll dodges are too mechanical to use in combat, but mastering them is mandatory since the combat is absolutely brutal. Enemies can be tough to spot in certain camera angles, and it takes only a few hits to die. Even though Hana, Deke, and Glas get plenty of weapons and the game provides a limited auto-aim, there is no way to heal manually. Healing automatically happens when you reach certain safe rooms or manage to pull off a very rare stealth kill. The combat is easily the most aggravating part of the game. Plan on reloading saves and repeating fights until you can through them without a scratch.

Fear Effect was a fresh experience that mostly worked well. The story took a lot of chances for the time that paid off, and the goal of "interactive anime" was definitely realized. Unfortunately, the aggravating combat could be too much of a roadblock to enjoying the game for those prone to rage-quitting. Regardless, it's worth checking out. On a scale of Akira to Junk Boy, it rates a Vampire Hunter D.
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