The classic PS One series Fear Effect may come back via Kickstarter
Originally released in 2000 on the PS One, Fear Effect was – and remains – one of my favorite games of all time. The 2001 prequel, Fear Effect: Retro Helix, was great too, but my burning generalized hatred of prequels knocked it down a bit. As a whole though, the Fear Effect series was amazing.
After a 15 year hiatus, it looks like the series may finally return – albeit in a slightly untraditional fashion: the game is being funded via Kickstarter for a possible PC release.
Rather than just, ya know, developing a new game for one of its most original and unique IPs, Square Enix elected to license out some of its dormant properties, including Fear Effect, to aspiring developers. Square Enix will retain the rights and distribute the game, but the development in this case is being handled by an indie group known as Sushee, consisting of a core of nine developers.
As with many crowdfunded projects, there are several flex goals. The initial goal is $114,106 (the oddly specific sum is due to exchange rates – the actual goal is €100,000), which it hopes to hit within 30 days. At the time of this writing, things are looking promising as just shy of 1,000 backers have raised nearly $35,000.
After reaching the initial goal, the stretch goals jump by €20K or €30K. The first will introduce more weapons, the second French and German localization, the third two more playable characters, and the fourth a main theme by Matt Furniss.
The fifth and sixth stretch goal are a little more interesting: the fifth will add more chapters exploring the past of the characters, while the sixth, set at €250,000, will bring the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Despite the caveats and hurdles, fans of the original will probably rush to throw money at the developers in hopes of returning to the cyberpunk world of Fear Effect.
The original games were third-person action with a mix of stealth and horror thrown in. Set in the near future, the games followed Hana Tsu-Vachel, a mercenary operating out of Hong Kong. She and her partners find themselves embroiled in a series of events that take them through the city, and eventually into the Chinese incarnation of Hell.
The series featured a unique cel-shaded look, and also a deeply mature storyline that among other things introduced one of the few lesbian relationships in gaming (via the prequel). The first game also led to a dark ending, where one of the playable characters lost and arm, and you were left with the choice of which protagonist you should kill.
There was also a third ending if you played the hard setting, where everyone made it out unscathed, including a character that died earlier. The newly proposed game is a sequel, set six years after Fear Effect, and it features all of the characters from the series – including the once dead one – so it seems the hard ending is the canon they are working from. The proposed sequel would also introduce a new character, making it into a team of five.
The art style will keep that distinctive cel-shading, but the gameplay is changing significantly. The proposed sequel will feature an isometric view with limited angles to increase the tension. The third-person action is also being replaced by tactical combat, closer to XCOM than the original Fear Effect games. In the new style, you’ll have five person teams, and your choices in the game change how the AI controlled characters play and react.
The new story will also leave behind the gritty cyberpunk confines of Hong Kong in favor of Europe, starting with Paris. From there, the team will head toward the North Pole, where they will encounter Inuit mythology.
It all sounds like a significant change for the series, but for fans, something is better than nothing.
Check out the Kickstarter and pay away. Contributions start at €15, which essentially preorders the game.