After 15 years a franchise from the original PlayStation attempts a comeback.
Fear Effect: Sedna is the new planned game in the espionage series that revives Fear Effect 15 years since its last release, Square Enix announced on Thursday.
A Kickstarter will launch on April 12 to fund the game’s development. A PC version is the funding’s initial plan for a mid-2017 release with console versions as a stretch goal. The Kickstarter will target 100,000 euros or around $114,000 to fund Sedna, according to Eurogamer.
The game is being developed by an independent studio through the Square Enix Collective program, which lets outside creators use the company’s dormant properties to make new titles. Sushee will be the team behind the new Fear Effect, a studio founded in 2008 that’s based in Lannion, France.
Sedna won’t be a big budget game like the originals on PlayStation as Sushee is just a small developer of only 10 people. The studio also made Goetia for Square Enix, a point-and-click adventure game set in a Victorian mystery. Goetia will be the the first title published under the company’s Collective umbrella on April 14.
Gameplay in this potential Fear Effect looks to be completely different, in a new genre heavily influenced by Shadowrun Returns (2013). Rather than a third-person action game like the originals, Sedna is shown from a top-down perspective with turn-based strategy movements for its combat.
The franchise’s main characters will return in Sedna, like Hana Tsu-Vachel, Rain Qin, Glas Royce and Deke DeCourt. There will also be new characters created by Sushee. Up to five characters can be controlled at the same time during gameplay.
“We want to make something that respects the series, but it’s not going to be Fear Effect 3,” Benjamin Anseaume, the CEO and game director of Sushee, said. “It’s going to be a new Fear Effect with new gameplay.”
Square Enix approved the game’s concepts so Sushee has the green light to move forward with its development. As the owner of the IP, Square Enix will have final approval on the game’s finished content.
Sedna will follow the storyline events of the canceled third game in the series, Fear Effect: Inferno. Square Enix gave Sushee Inferno’s source material to work on the new game. Sedna will take place four years after Inferno and sees Hana return to life as a mercenary.
John Zuur Platten, the original Fear Effect’s director and writer, will work with Sushee on the game’s story and characters. He also wrote on games like The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004).
Sushee will tone down the franchise’s sexual aspects for Fear Effect: Sedna and focus more on the different relationships. “We want to make it part of the story and not just a selling element,” Anseaume said. “Especially for the second game, Eidos’ marketing used sexual pictures that were not in the game. You will have Hana and Rain as strong characters but not sexualized as they were in the second game.”
Fear Effect: Sedna is going through Kickstarter instead of being directly funded by Square Enix because the company had no plans of its own to resurrect the franchise. Instead it considers this venture licensing out the property to an external developer willing to create a new game with one of its old IPs. Square Enix won’t control the game’s Kickstarter funds but will leave it up to Sushee to manage the development of the new Fear Effect.
Square Enix launched its Collective program in January 2014. The company will take 5 percent of the Kickstarter funding after fee deductions and then an additional 10 percent of a game’s revenue after it goes on sale. The cut allows Square Enix to publish and promote the game while also helping the studio with quality assurance and other administrative tasks. The Square Enix Collective also lets independent developers pitch ideas for their own games that can then be voted on by the community, receive public funding and backing from the publisher.
Originally developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment and published by Eidos Interactive, Fear Effect first released for the PS1 in February 2000. The last game in the series was Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix for the PlayStation in February 2001, a prequel to the original release about how Hana met Rain and the other two main characters.
The Fear Effect franchise takes place in the future with an espionage storyline set in Hong Kong, China, combining cyberpunk elements with Chinese mythology. Both games featured mature themes involving violence, sexuality, the criminal underworld, demons and other darker content aimed at adult players. The games were known for having high-quality visuals and production values on the original PlayStation hardware, with cel-shaded styled characters and streaming full-motion video (FMV) backgrounds. Fear Effect played like a survival horror game of that era, with puzzles throughout the story. The games also featured fixed camera angles like the classic Resident Evil titles. Throughout the game players would switch between the different characters. Both games also featured multiple endings.
The franchise was also infamous at the time for having its two main characters Hana and Rain together in a sexual relationship in Retro Helix, which is one of the first games to offer such a portrayal. Hana is considered bisexual by Stan Liu, the game’s creator and founder of Kronos. This relationship was to lead to a love triangle involving Hana, Rain and Glas in the eventual third Fear Effect. Eidos’ marketing overplayed these sexual aspects to promote Fear Effect 2, which overshadowed some of the actual content in the game.
A third game called Fear Effect: Inferno was in development by Kronos for the PlayStation 2 and was even shown off during E3 2002. Kronos soon lost the project’s funding from Eidos and ultimately the game was canceled in 2003. Kronos closed shortly afterwards while Square Enix later bought Eidos in April 2009.
Both Fear Effect games are available to download in Europe from the PlayStation Store but not in North America.
Following the big screen adaptation of Eidos’ Tomb Raider in 2001 with Angelina Jolie, Fear Effect was to be another of the company’s franchises adapted to a movie. There was an announcement for a Fear Effect movie in 2004 with Paramount Pictures that would be directed by Uwe Boll, who made film adaptations for House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and Bloodrayne. Boll left the project after a new Fear Effect game never released. Mindfire Entertainment took over in 2006 with Stanley Tong as its new director, who headed several Jackie Chan films in the ’90s.
A full script was done in 2007 for a planned 2008 release that never happened. The movie was supposed to be filmed in Hong Kong with a $25 million budget and set 10 years in the future, following the story of the first Fear Effect. Mark A. Altman, the film’s then producer and writer, described the potential Fear Effect movie as, “sort of the “The Dirty Dozen” meets Silent Hill.”
Watch Sedna’s announcement trailer: