European Cover art
|Developer(s)||Kronos Digital Entertainment|
|Designer(s)||Scott J. Compton
John Zuur Platten
|Release date(s)||EU 1999
Fear Effect (known as Fear Factor during development) is an action-adventure game released for the PlayStation in 1999. It was developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment and published by Eidos Interactive. The story concerns three outlaws named Hana, Deke, and Glas who are trying to retrieve the missing daughter of a wealthy Chinese businessman. Essentially a cyberpunk adventure set in futuristic China, Fear Effect's storyline also incorporates elements of Chinese mythology. It was followed by Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix, a prequel which chronicles the events that lead directly into those in Fear Effect.
Fear Effect features gameplay with unshaded characters textured to resemble cel-shading, notably being one of the very first games to utilize the technique. Rather than using pre-rendered 2D backgrounds, the environments are composed of streaming or looping full-motion video. As a consequence, the game is composed of four discs. There are also puzzles interspersed between action sequences, similar to other games of the survival horror genre.
The player controls one of three mercenaries (either Hana, Deke, or Glas) through areas filled with human and non-human enemies. The game controls are similar to traditional survival horror tank controls, with an exception being that the characters can run and shoot simultaneously. When wielding two guns (one in each hand), they are also able to shoot multiple enemies at the same time. Another feature is the ability to duck and roll; while facing a number of the armed foes, the player can roll a short distance and avoid taking enemy fire.
The game's title refers to the player's life bar, a meter which resembles a pulsing EKG. When the player is damaged, the green line of the EKG will pulse faster and turn red. It is possible to 'regain' health by performing acts that will calm that character's heart rate. These include solving a puzzle or sneaking behind a guard to perform a stealth kill. Both will be rewarded with a health boost that brings the meter back to green.
When the daughter of a powerful Hong Kong Triad boss disappears, a trio of mercenaries search for her in the city. They have not been hired to find her, but they intend to kidnap the girl before her father's men locate her, then hold her for ransom. The girl in question, Wee Ming, has vanished into the fictional Shan Xi protectorate; Hana Tsu Vachel, the lead character and femme fatale of the group, used to work in a brothel somewhere in that region.
Hana arrives in Hong Kong accompanied by her male partners, Royce Glas and Jacob "Deke" DeCourt. What begins as a simple snatch and grab turns into a fiasco: The father of the runaway, Mr. Lam, attributes his fortune and power to a pact he made with demons long ago. Wee Ming, who is of demonic descent, has been scheduled to serve as a sacrifice to Yim Lau Wong, the mythical "King of Hell". When Glas is caught trying to rescue Wee Ming, Mr. Lam surprises Glas, cutting off his left arm. At the same time, Deke is murdered while trying to infiltrate the brothel.
The one-armed Glas reawakens in a meat locker, surprised to find he is still alive; he surmises that Mr. Lam must be planning a slow death for him. Wee Ming arrives and tries her best to free him. When Hana storms in to confront her former boss, Madam Chen, she learns that Chen is actually a demon in disguise. In the ensuing fight, Chen and her minions are killed, but Mr. Lam disappears with his daughter into a portal to Hell. Determined to save Wee Ming from whatever fate Mr. Lam has in store for her, Hana follows them into the portal, with Glas reawaking, and frees himself to give chase.
In a surreal journey through Hell where the Hana meets the Black and White Guards of Impermanence (黑白无常) who give her cryptic messages about her fate. Glas encounters the reanimated corpse of Deke, who is being tortured for the many murders he has committed. Deke takes on a grotesque demonic form and attacks Glas. After he is victorious, Glas promises to avenge Deke. Meanwhile, Hana finally confronts Yim Lau Wong, who explains that Hell has become overburdened with the souls of the guilty. Once Wee Ming is returned to the netherworld, Yim Lau Wong will be able to expand the reaches of Hell and consume Earth. Hana was chosen to look after Wee Ming because Yim Lau Wong desired someone "ruthless" to be her guardian.
At a critical moment, Glas reappears and tries to kill Wee Ming, believing her to be the root of the chaos. During the tense standoff between Hana and Glas, the player is given a choice over which of them should die. This decision will determine the final boss as well as the subsequent ending. On the "Hard" difficulty setting, a third option will become available: spare the lives of both Glas and Hana. In this ending, the pair emerge from the smoldering wreckage of the brothel, where they find a befuddled Deke sitting on a toilet. Deke has no memory of being killed, believing he has taken a bump to the head, and asks how they made out on the "deal". As he hoists himself out of the pit, Glas is stunned to realize that his left arm has been completely restored. The three partners walk off into the sunrise to continue their exploits.
The game was originally titled Fear Factor, and some pre-release advertising used this title. The title was changed because it was too similar to the popular heavy metal band Fear Factory and not, as it is sometimes believed, as a result of the NBC reality TV game show Fear Factor, which would not debut until a year after the release of Fear Effect.
In 2004, Uwe Boll bought the film rights to the game as a deal with Eidos, who promised him the rights to Hitman if he also bought the rights to Fear Effect. Eidos did not hold up their end of the deal, and as a result, Boll dropped the film. The rights were later picked up by Mindfire Entertainment, with Stanley Tong in negotiation to direct and frequent Uwe Boll collaborator Mark A. Altman handling the script. Although for a time it was listed as "in production" and having a 2008 release date on movie sites such as IMDb, there was almost no other concrete information regarding the film. Subsequently, the IMDb page has been taken down, and no further mention of a Fear Effect movie has been officially made anywhere since.