Sushee CEO opens up about the series’ long-awaited return.
Many gamers may not know of Fear Effect. The action/stealth title was an odd but compelling combination of cinematic story-telling, cel-shaded graphics and isometric camera angles, especially in the sequel Retro Helix on the PlayStation One. The franchise has lain dormant for years until Sushee’s Fear Effect Sedna emerged on Kickstarter courtesy of the Square Enix Collective. Hana, Rain and others return but this time, Fear Effect Sedna will be taking a tactical RPG approach.
GamingBolt spoke to Sushee CEO Benjamin Anseaume about Fear Effect’s return, what’s changed with the move to a more tactical strategy style of gameplay and much more.
"On some aspect, we want to be very true to the two first games, on others things; we want to show that Sedna is another game, 15 years after the second one."
How long have you been trying to get Fear Effect Sedna made? What benefits did turning to Kickstarter offer?
We first pitched our idea back in February 2015, as soon as Square released their IPs via the Collective platform. We talked about the IPs with the team and decided all together to work on a Fear Effect pitch, and the ideas popped immediately. After a creative period we decided that, out of respect for the fans, we needed to work with a part of the former team, so we contacted John and Matt, and they replied very quickly.
Concerning the Kickstarter campaign, it was both a difficult and exciting phase. Exciting because you’re starting to grow a community, and you see positive feedbacks on a project you’re working on since 6 month, and difficult because the rules were very clear, if the project was not funded, everything stopped immediately.
What inspired the story and the involvement of Inuit mythology? Besides Hong Kong and Greenland, which places will players visit?
On some aspect, we want to be very true to the two first games, on others things; we want to show that Sedna is another game, 15 years after the second one. Changing the mythology, while staying true to the fact that the Gods discreetly try to rule our lives, seems to be the perfect balance to us, and we’re still very happy with this choice.
I think that the world is Hana’s playground, and what was implicit in Fear Effect and Fear Effect Retro Helix will become obvious. Hana is going to travel to France, and uncover some secrets about her origins, Nuuk, the Greenland capital, and some more… supernatural places.
Can you tell readers a bit about why you opted for a tactical action game approach? What opportunities did this gameplay approach present in comparison to the series’ traditional third person perspective?
When we all replayed Fear Effect, we wrote some keywords on a big board, and “teamwork” was one of this words. And then we realized that the characters was never played all together in the 2 first games, and that’s perfectly normal, because of the 90s-typical gameplay, but as we knew we wanted to change the gameplay, we really wanted to go in that direction, so the tactical approach was one option and after several prototypes we decided to go in that direction.
"If you played the prototype, you saw that you can switch any time between all your controlled characters, that’s an important feature…"
I must say that we’re keeping most of the surprises and depth of our gameplay for the final version of the game. In the prototype we released, most of the features of the combat mode were not released; we’re still working on it very hard, especially on skills and team skills.
Besides, we want to work on the stress the player is feeling, the tactical view is obviously less stressful than the views in the first games, but we really want the player to feel uncomfortable, it’s going to be a major change in the final game compared to the prototype. So you see, we still have a lot to do!
How has the relationship between Rain and Hana evolved over the years? Will the game allow you to move between different characters in different scenarios (along with playing with all five characters at once)?
Rain and Hana live together in Hong-Kong, Hana is free from the triad, but couldn’t cut all her bounds with her past, that’s why she’s still accepting missions. Their relation is more official than it was in Fear Effect Retro Helix, they’re clearly a couple, but their relation is still the same, Hana overprotects Rain and Rain needs to be part of Hana’s life, including following her in her missions, and in Sedna she’ll have the last word, so she’s a very important in the 5 character cast.
If you played the prototype, you saw that you can switch any time between all your controlled characters, that’s an important feature, but to stay close to Fear Effect, you’ll not choose who you control, it’ll depend on the story, some part will focus on Hana and Rain, others on Decke and Glas, not to forget Axel, the new character in Sedna.
What kind of missions will players encounter in Fear Effect Sedna? In this post-Shadowrun/Wasteland 2/XCOM era, how difficult was it to create unique challenges and enemies for players?
We will have a lot of missions, each with different gameplays: infiltration, team gunfight and even investigation, but every mission will be driven by the story, the story is really important for us, and the core of the game. That’s why we’re very happy to work with John Zuur Platten; he’s forming an awesome team with Lucie, our writer.
The most difficult part with the game you mention is the comparison. We chose this gameplay, not to copy Shadowrun, but only because it seemed perfectly fit for the game and the story we want to tell. The fact is that as soon as the first screenshots popped, the game was compared to this huge success. It’s difficult, because we think that beside the similarities, it’s clearly not the same game, and we’d like the player to make their opinion with the first Fear Effect in mind rather than these games.
Can you tell us about the different skills that players can utilize in-game? Can players customize the characters to fill certain roles?
All I can say currently is that what you see in the prototype is not exactly what you’ll get in the game. Each character has his/her own strength and weakness and the skills will depend on these traits, amongst other things.
"We don’t have any idea about the release date yet, but we’re confident that it will be released before the end of 2017."
Given that the game will focus on the relationship between the characters in between gameplay as well as during cut scenes, is there a chance that the original voice cast will appear? If not, how do the new voice actors fit into their roles?
The original cast is not an option unfortunately, some actors don’t make voice acting anymore, others are too famous for an indie game budget, unfortunately, but we have plans about that. We’re looking for new actors with voices very close to the original, we’re not happy with every voices in the prototype, and even not with our process to record the voices, so it’s going to change for sure, we received some nice feedback about Hana’s voice, but others voices were less appreciated, it’s a point we’ll working on, for sure, voices are an important aspect of the Fear Effect games.
What can you tell us about Mission Mode at this point? What kinds of objectives, puzzles, random enemies, etc. can players expect?
We’re currently focused on the story mode, but the mission mode is an important feature we announced. The idea is to let the player free to use the character and the strategy he wants to reach the objective. It’s like a different game, in fact and will provide a longer, less story-driven experience for the players who liked the combat system in Sedna.
We didn’t finish the reflection about the missions but it may be objectives like “complete this map in less than 3 minutes”, or “complete this map using only close ranged weapons”, etc…
What is the current status of development? When can we expect the game to release at this point?
Thanks to the prototype release we’re very close from a fully functional core game, even if we have a lot of features to add, including fog of warm skills, etc…
Arts and assets for the 3 first levels are finished, so everything is running pretty smoothly. We don’t have any idea about the release date yet, but we’re confident that it will be released before the end of 2017.
"We played a lot of strategy games on console, and we found that Dragon’s Age has the best approach in porting a tactical gameplay on consoles, it inspired us a lot…"
Have you encountered any obstacles in translating the game’s tactical action approach to consoles?
Yes. Even more because we have PC and console players in the team… We played a lot of strategy games on console, and we found that Dragon’s Age has the best approach in porting a tactical gameplay on consoles, it inspired us a lot, but we changed the default control configuration many, many times. Now I’m pretty happy with the gameplay with a gamepad. For example, when she’s not testing something related to controls, Claire, our QA lead, is using a PS4 gamepad.
Is the game going to run at 1080p and 60fps on both PS4 and Xbox One?
Currently we’re only working on PC only, that’s why the prototype is not available on consoles. Once the development is closer to its end, we’ll start working on consoles port, but I’m very confident it’ll be the case!
Do you have any plans to support the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio?
Not especially, the game is a 2.5D game with isometric view; it is not a very heavy game in term of processing. The only thing a little more heavy we’re working on are the particles and background animation, if you played the prototype you can see that we worked a lot on this aspect of the game, because it is part of Fear Effect.
So the game will work on Pro and Scorpio, but on “old” versions as well.
Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Thank you for your support, we really hope you liked the prototype; we are working hard on making the best game possible, you haven’t see anything yet.