11/19 – Fear Effect

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

The original Playstation is, in many ways, the birthplace of survival horror. Survival Horror icons such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill got their start on the console. Still, if it had just been those two games, the genre may never have taken off. Lesser known gems had to be released also for the genre to have any real staying power. Today’s game is one of those gems. Today’s game is Fear Effect. Developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment and released exclusively on the Playstation in 2000.

It’s the year 2052 in Hong Kong. When a girl Wee Ming, daughter of a Triad boss goes missing, three mercenaries are brought in to find her. Players play as Hana, one of these three mercenaries and someone familiar with the area Wee Ming has disappeared. Things quickly go wrong during their rescue, however, and it’s discovered that Wee Ming is actually a sacrifice intended for the King of Hell in exchange for demonic power. The demons are none too pleased that their sacrifice has escaped and are wreaking havoc across the protectorate.

Fear Effect remains an interesting entry in the survival horror genre primarily for its story and its graphical capabilities. While Fear Effect does not use actual cel-shading techniques, the art style is remarkably similar and added to the effect’s growing popularity in the early 2000’s. Fear Effect also uses fixed-camera angles and backgrounds similar to Resident Evil but unlike that game, the backgrounds in Fear Effect are often moving and alive. This is created by having looping full motion video giving the illusion of a living world. This frequent FMV use is why Fear Effect had to release with a whopping 4 discs despite it being very possible to complete the game in only a few hours.

Controls are similar to Resident Evil and Silent Hill but with a slightly greater emphasis on action. Players can move and shoot at the same time as well as perform dodge rolls to avoid enemies. Fear Effect also features a Tomb Raider-esque ability to fire dual pistols, aiming at multiple enemies at once with either pistol. 

Fear Effect released to positive reviews. The graphics and cinematic look to the game were highly praised. The backgrounds were impressive for the aging Sony Playstation and while the controls were criticised, many said the story made the game worth it. Fear Effect didn’t sell particularly well due to the Sega Dreamcast releasing a few months earlier and the Playstation 2 looming on the horizon. Fear Effect also never saw a Japanese release, likely because the Playstation 2 was only a month away when the game first debuted and a localization wouldn’t have been able to compete.

Fear Effect wasn’t forgotten, however, and a sequel would actually be released in 2001 also on the Sony Playstation. The series would also see an attempt at a soft reboot with Fear Effect Sedna, a top-down action shooter but this game would not be very well received. While news has been light, Square Enix has claimed it is still working on a remake of the original Fear Effect titled Fear Effect Reinvented.

Thank you very much for listening! For more trivia about Fear Effect, follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. Archives and transcripts are available on videogameoftheday.com. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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Devin "Katosepe" Sloane is a long time gamer and host of the show Video Game of the Day. He firmly believes Darklands is the pinnacle of gaming achievement and this is a hill he will die upon. Where his nickname came from is a secret to everybody.