Fear Effect is a third-person action game developed by U.S. based Kronos Digital Entertainment and published by Eidos Interactive in North America on January 31, 2000. Set in a cyberpunk future, it featured three mercenaries on the trail of a mark gone missing. It is notable for being the first game to feature cel-shaded graphics. The story revolves around mercenaries Hana Tsu Vachel, Royce Glas and 'Deke' DeCourt as they are hired to snatch and ransom Wee Ming Lam off to her wealthy businessman father. What ensues is a twisting tale of betrayal, corruption and revenge extending from the neon-lit Hong Kong skyline to the very pits of Hell.
Hana Tsu Vachel: a beautiful and deadly assassin who feels as comfortable as a gun as she does naked. With both French and Chinese blood, she never speaks about her past or of Madame Chen, the woman connected to it. Her hard edge seems built up around a fragile, innocent young girl.
Voiced by: Elyse Dinh
Royce Glas: a burnt out, ex-military specialist, Glas partnered up with Hana and Deke to keep doing the only things he knows how; handle a gun and stay level headed in dangerous situations.
Voiced by: Miguel Marcott
Jacob ‘Deke’ DeCourt: A psychotic Aussie with a love of brutality and death. Naturally violent, he has an appetite for money, both of which seem sated by the jobs he takes.
Voiced by: Anthony De Longis
Wee Ming Lam- daughter of the powerful leader of Lam enterprises, she has many questions about a past she can’t piece together. Never having met her mother, she suspects Madame Chen and notifies the woman of her desire to meet. Her plan goes awry when she is able to escape from her father’s security only to walk into the arms of the mercenaries who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to get to her.
Voiced by: Julie Schaller
Jinn: a sleazy middleman who has supplied Hana with jobs for years, he has a knack for getting her in trouble. He was working for Lam Enterprises when he sniffed out Wee Ming’s disappearance. His communications drew the attention of security looking into the girl’s disappearance who interrogated him by strapping him with C4. He was shot and killed seconds after Hana’s rescue, only to shower her with his blood.
Voiced by: Rob Monroe
Madame Chen: an enigma at large, this woman possesses an air and arrogance bordering on the mystic. She’s been contacted by Wee Ming Lam and is the young girls destination when she escapes from her father’s care. With her restaurant used as a front for more shadowy dealings, she has a past with Hana that the mercenary is weary of confronting.
Voiced by: Kathie Barnes
Mr. Lam: the merciless leader of a Hong Kong Triad, this ‘businessman’ rose to power over night and continued gaining wealth and eliminating his enemies with an almost supernatural grace. He became entangled with the three mercenaries when they tried to capture and ransom his escaped daughter, Wee Ming.
Voiced by: Geoff Hoff
Primarily an action game focusing on basic weapon combat, Fear Effect was praised for having well-designed and sensible puzzles wrapped in an anime aesthetic.
Combat consists of a series of encounters against enemy NPC's. While featuring videogame mainstay assault rifles and shotguns, players can dual-wield single-handed weapons such as pistols and Uzi's. Similar to Eidos cash cow Tomb Raider franchise, characters can move while firing and dual-wielded guns can be trained on multiple targets. To keep combat fresh, the player could sneak up on unwitting enemies and perform assassination techniques. More than a way to get a one-hit kill on an opponent, these moves allow for silent kills when equipped with the characters particular melee weapon and restores a small portion of the Fear meter. If done properly, it's possible to kill multiple enemies in areas without any of them knowing you were there.
Which is important for the health system implemented in the game. The Fear Meter represents the characters current pulse rate and is correspondingly stressed and relaxed by being shot, managing ammunition resources, succeeding at puzzles and reaching plot related events. When the meter moves from green to deep red, the character topples over and dies.
Boss Battles tend a little too often to be exercises in standing still and shooting directly at your opponent. To mix up the pacing, some of these battles are constructed to be puzzle-based. Situations ranging from shooting flags to jam a harrier jets turbines or fighting on a platform of retracting stones add to the variety.
Similar to other third-person games of the era, Fear Effect was afflicted with tank controls, in which forward is always 'UP' on the D-Pad and the character has to physically rotate in other directions before moving in them. To aid the player, a targeting reticle would appear whenever the character was lined up to attack. Appearing in the top center of the screen, the symbol would turn green when you could attack and red when the character was close enough to an enemy to perform an assassination.
Inventory management, while inspired for maintaining focus on the unfolding action, was awkward for being assigned to 'circle' and 'square' on the controller. These buttons would cycle inventory through a daisy chain of items into weapons into items.
One of Fear Effect's greatest strengths is the dozens of fully integrated puzzles. Differing from the puzzles found in its contemporaries, Fear Effect followed the internal logic of its world and worked within the confines of its plot rather than the arbitrary, senseless ones worked into games in the Resident Evil mold. While none are particularly challenging, they are each varied enough to keep the pacing fresh and avoid repetition. Running from spatial reasoning to linguistic riddles, the puzzles were often decorated as real-time action scenes and boss battles.
Fear Effect was an early example of a videogame sporting a visual technique similar to cel-shading that produced anime-styled graphics. Unfortunately, the limitations of the PlayStation hardware required that it lack the outlines and dynamic light-sourcing of true cell shading. Extensive disc compression had sizable effects on the quality of the FMV which looked pixelated and foggy as a result and took minutes to load.
Adding to the cyberpunk feel, the backgrounds feature looping full motion video rather than static pre-rendered wallpaper. Despite style choices that required the game be shipped on four discs, these scenes provided the fiction with the texture of an organic, living world. It could be argued that the many scenes featuring hazards integrated into these loops could have been the PlayStation equivalent to scripted events. Key locations were furnished with details ranging from working fountains to skyline traffic and shadow play on walls.
In an adventure game move, Fear Effect is scattered with contextual death animations for specific scenes. While short, these add to the games personality and are always triggered by moving past certain thresholds on the map, such as onto red-hot pipes or too far off steel beams.
First introduced are Hana and Glas in their helicopter. Hana retreads the mission to Glas about meeting with Jin to collect the data which suggests where Wee Ming is hiding, after she ran away from her father for unknown reasons. The two are already suspicious, however, as they arrive on the landing pad to find Jin missing; he was meant to meet them there with the disc containing the possible location of Wee Ming.
Hana is forced to look for him--with Glas waiting at the chopper--killing a fair number of bodyguards to Mr Lam, Wee Ming's father. She eventually finds Jin being interrogated and manages to kill the guards, though the Head of Security who was interrogating Jin managed to escape. Through information Jin is also found with a bomb strapped around his wait, forcing Hana to quickly disarm it. She does so, with Jin's expressing of his gratitude to be cut short as he's then killed by the Security Chief who returned briefly. Even while covered in Jin's blood, Hana chases down the man confronting him in a computer room with an open view of the neon lit sign of the building they are in. She kills him and takes with her a disc which is believed to contain Wee Ming's possible location. As Hana makes her way back Glas and the chopper, she is ambushed by Mr Lam and his bodyguards and beaten.
The story shifts to Glas as he becomes impatient waiting for Hana. As soon as begins to climb the ladder up off the landing pad, however, he too is also ambushed by one of Lam's attack choppers. Glas manages to evade its attacks as it unloads its stock of rockets and minigun ammunition. Eventually, Glas is able to take down the helicopter by shooting off a couple of towels left to dry, which they're sucked into helicopters engines causing it to backfire and explode. Glas then manages to stealthily catch up to Hana, while Mr Lam gloats of his capturing of her and just as he orders one of his guards to kill her, Glas ducks down from a ladder killing them all. Mr Lam manages to escape, while another helicopter arrives tormenting the duo. As Glas holds off the incoming swarm of Lam's soldiers, Hana takes down the gunners in the helicopter and takes the reign. Glas rejoins her soon after and the two escape.
Jacob 'Deke' Decourt is then introduced. He is shown waiting at a hotel when he is given a package. Hana and Glas then pick Deke up in a limo. Deke hands Hana the encryption spike, which was found from the package, and Hana inserts it into a socket in the car detailing the message via video. In it, a narrator explains Mr Lam and his sudden influx of wealth he attained and leads into Chinese proverbs. Jin is then shown during the ending segments saying that Wee Ming was heading in the direction of a Madam Chen's Restaurant. Hana admits to having knowledge of the place, but only before the trio are forced off the road into a nearby lake by what appears to be Mr. Lam's goons in pursueing vehicles. Most likely believing them to be dead, they give up the chase. Hana, Glas and Deke all managed to survive, however, and take board on a boat they plan to sail to Shan Chi.
The trio are forced to make a pit stop in a small fishing village after Deke spotting what looks like Wee Ming herself. Hana, after just having a shower, throws on a towel while Glas and Deke race after Wee Ming.
As Hana steps out from the boat, however, she is ambushed by what appear to be zombies wielding machetes. She manages to barely fight her way through the village, encountering more and more of the sickly skinned people. Hana Eventually comes upon an old woman--the only survivor she's encountered thus far--who explains that this was all the fault of Wee Ming: young boy was fishing on the rocks, but slipped and gashed his leg terribly. Wee Ming managed to save the young boy and bring him the village, though as soon as she arrives everyone around here begins turning into the very same zombie-like monsters Hana has been facing.
Meanwhile, as Deke and Glas are chasing Wee Ming, Deke becomes too exhausted and loses track of both of them. As he catches his breath, he is ambushed by a still-human villager - though one who appears he has gone insane. He is seen burning a small paper man, and goads Deke after he states that ''He has no idea what he up against'' while laughing. In rebutal, Deke shoots him to death.
Hana continues on after hearing about the strange phenomenon surrounding Wee Ming, only to learn that their are a group of soldiers patrolling the area next to a train. The old man before explains that they usually come here to trade, though all of the creatures that have resurfaced have made them go mad and are killing anyone they see. Hana stealthly stabs here way through the soldiers until reaching a warehouse where she is ambushed. Before the soldier can react, however, Hana takes off her towel briefly stunning the man as he gazes upon Hana's well sculptured figure. Through this moment, this gives Deke the chance to quickly adminster a neck-snap to the soldier. Hana briefs Deke about the train-yard and the train itself they could potentially use to get out of this village and head to Madam Chen's resturaunt. While Hana nabs the deceased soldiers uniform (or at least the boots, trousers and a black tank-top) Deke heads into the warehouse to see if he can find anything to help them out in operating the train.
In the warehouse, Deke slaughters his way through the patrols until eventually leading up to the supporting boards near the ceiling. Up there, he encounters a small pack of strange spectres who wield duel sickles. They claim that Wee Ming belongs to them, though Deke pays no heed to their words and blasts his way through them all.
While all of this has been going on, Glas is still pursueing Wee Ming. He manages to catch up close by the hut where Deke killed the man from earlier, but is attacked by a group of zombified villagers. After holding his own against the undead machete-man, Glas attempts to carry on his hunt for Wee Ming, but is yet again halted by the zombies. Trying to walk across a boardwalk, the zombies below are peroidically setting fire underneath, forcing Glas to step wisely. After he manages to get across. Glas then notices a truck being guarded by two soldier in the distance.
From here, Hana manages to locate the key to the train and gets it up and running. Deke catches up to Hana, along with Glas. With all three of them on-board, they start the train. Unfortunately, a group of soldiers managed to jump on top of the train before it left the station. Deke goes up equipped with his traditional murderous intent. Things get even worse, however, as the bridge is shown to be out. Glas and Hana jump off, with Deke himself just barely managing to race to the end of the train and jump before the entire train succumbs through the destroyed bridge.
On the wreckage of what little of the train remains, Glas opts to go solo a littl further and takes down the two soldiers nearby the truck he noticed earlier. Deke and Hana rejoin him and the three then finally leave the forsaken village, heading for Madam Chen's resturaunt.
The trio finally arrive, though Glas opts to head in first since Madam Chen, with her history with Hana, would recognise her. Inside the restaurant, Glas meets Madam Chen alongside Mr. Lam, who orders one of his goons to knock Glas out and throws him in a store room. By placing some kitchen oil on the floor and smashing a vase, Glas is able to lure in the passing guard who then slips on the kitchen oil knocking himself out. Glas takes his gun and heads toward the kitchen.
Outside, Hana and Deke notice that the restraurant is shoveling out their customers, causing them both to be suspicious of the situation. Deke also suggests that Hana hangs back for now as he clambers up to the roof and attempts to infilitrate this way instead.
Back in the kitchen, Glas successfully manages to sneak past all the chefs, eventually pulling the sprinklers creating a sea of confusion. Taking advantage of the chaos, Glas quickly takes down all the guards and eventually manages to reach the front door. Hana quickly enters, but Glas asserts that they should just quit the job now since Mr. Lam is on to them. Hana argues that they can't leave Wee Ming with Madam Chen, taking a more personal stance towards her plight, essentially turning what was a kidnapping to a rescue. Glas reluctantly decides to stay and help, suggesting they split up.
With the perspective situating around Hana for now, she first goes and puts on a skimpy bikini, so she can masquerade as one of Madam Chen's prostitutes. Hana makes her way upstairs, where the brothel is run, looking for Wee Ming. Instead of Wee Ming, though, Hana bumps into Deke who jokingly comments on her appearance. Deke too suggests that they should bail from this job, but Hana asks that she helps her find Wee Ming. Deke, still uncomfortable for quickly this has shifted from professional to something more personal, decides to help her. The two split up, with Deke managing to make his way to the second floor. Here he unlocks the door to Madam Chen's bedroom, but is ambushed by the woman herself and killed.
Glas inadvertenly follows in Deke footsteps, searching through the upstairs Brothel. He encounters a prostitute in a bedroom, only now realising why Hana is so adamant to rescue Wee Ming. On his way out, Glas is then attacked by Mr. Lam with a sword who cuts off Glas' left arm. Glas instantly falls to the floor under a seeping pile of his blood, while Mr. Lam mocks him for carrying on to try and kidnap his daughter.
Hana, completely oblivious to her team-mates dire confrontations, also manages to find her way up to the second floor, and enters Madam Chen's room. She is shocked to find Chen herself holding Deke's corpse, who hurls it through the window landing just below where Mr. Lam is escorting Wee Ming out of the restaurant. Deke's corpse lands on top of a large ornament, cutting a large wound through his face. The blood sprays onto Wee Ming, who inadvertently unleashs her devasting power, turning all of the strippers in the vicinity into mindless ghouls, similar to the creatures from the fishing village. Madam Chen also reveals her true form as a kind of demon, all grey with sharp spike-like limbs for arms. The brief history between the two, Hana and Chen, is touched upon as Chen consistently calls Hana Mei Yun - Hana's original name.
Hana escapes from the room and heads to the cooler room; she finds Glas being hung from a hook in his sweater, with his arm bandaged to stop the bleedin. Glas explains that Mr. Lam must want to kill him slowly. He falls unconscience, leaving only the sound of a chainsaw nearby. Hana goes to investigate the noise, finding both Madam Chen and Wee Ming in the next room. Using paper offerings burnt on the aura of fire that surrounds Chen, Hana is able to kill her, opening up a path in the floor to an evil and mystical forest.
Wee Ming stresses to Hana that she needs to return 'Home', and asks that she help her make her way through the forest. Hana complies, escorting her through, but only before Wee Ming is pulled under by the 'water' she accidentally falls into. Hana tries to grab her out, but to no avail. Her spirit still strong, Hana pushes herself through the evil forest, encountering a number of demonic priests. The mythlogical Chinese act of burning paper objects to the dead takes effect in this world, giving Hana ammo and items she requires to pass implicating this may be a kind of Purgatory.
Hana eventually finds a chained up Madam Chen, in her true demonic form. Madam Chen offers to help her, but only if she will deliver a doll to her daughter located elsewhere in this weird and ghostly place. Hana locates Chen's daughter, who is revealed to be Hana herself; a trick, brought out from the effects of this world. The figmentation asks Hana a series of riddles for her to solve, each one rapidly aging the fake Hana. After the finale riddle, the fake Hana dies of old age and slumps to the floor as nothing but a pile of bones. Her skull reveals a scroll, which she gives back to Chen; Chen herself bullies Hana into accepting her as a mother, but Hana never accepts, professing that Mei Yun is dead. Chen's corpse then spontaneously disappears completely, only before she is told to search for The Brothers if she wants to find Wee Ming.
Hana locates the first Brother, who offers her a key to help access some of the otherwise locked off areas. He mentions that they are preparing a Funeral, then he too vanishes completely, with his voice assimilating into the wind.
Meanwhile, Glas determined to stay alive, wakes up from his sleep and unhooks himself. He locates a bag of guns, helps himself to a pisto, then heads into the same evil forest that Hana and Wee Ming entered prior. Noticing the strange gloopy water, he decides on a different route through. Glas is forced to travel through what appears more like an ice-cave. He hypnotically follows the worn cries from the ghost of Deke, eventually leading him into a cave filled with more of that same gloopy water. Deke has transformed into a monster--completely enveloped with more of that very same water--hell-bent on enacting revenge against Glas for getting him involved in all this in the first Bullets still appear, however, and Glas manages to shoot Deke enough until he disintegrates. Glas promises that he will avenge Deke's death and hoists himself up a well leading back to the forest. As he reaches out, there is a funeral march with Wee Ming in the middle; Hana attempts to save her only to notice a shoulder of a man with a knife sneaking towards her. The man is revealed to be Glas who slits Wee Ming's throat. Hana curses Glas for doing such a thing, while a frustrated Glas raves about how much this job has cost both him and Deke. To both their surprise, Wee Ming stands right back up with her neck wound completely healed. She again states that she needs to return 'Home' so she can be at peace; Hana chases after Wee Ming and the Funeral March, while Glas is overwhelming by more of the demonic priests.
Hana now finds herself in a weird room filled with gears, and other strange contraptions that make it appear like a clocktower. The room itself is bright, almost with a warm quality to it however, with numerous Chinese symbols plastered all over. By offering the appropriate items Hana had collected previously through her treck across the forest, she is transported into a large room, filled with blackness besides a large circle with Jin sitting on a chair. Hana is equally confused and relieved to see Jin, though it is subdued once Jin transforms into his true identity: Yim Lau Wong, The King of Hell.
Yim Lau Wong explains everything; his creation of Wee Ming; his deal with Mr. Lam, giving him Wee Ming to look after as his daughter in exchange for infinite wealth. The creation of Wee Ming itself was necessary, as Hell was actually full up of souls and simply had no room.So he created Wee Ming, and sent her into the real world, so when people would look upon her they would see their trueselves and be damned unto the real world - much like how he would judge the dead with his own Mirror. Hana realises that the reason that she was also seemingly immune to the effects of Wee Ming's power was because of Jin's blood spraying on her when he was ''killed' earlier. Hana states that Wong has lost anyway, since Wee Ming has been safely brought to health. With a laugh, Yim Lau Wong corrects that this isn't Hell, and points to both Wee Ming and Glas being lightly attacked by demonic bird. Wee Ming asks one last time that Hana will help her, after all they've gone through thus far and how close they are.
Mr. Lam himself appears shortly after with a pistol, only to be cut across by Wong, with specks of his blood landing on Wee Ming forcing a monstrous transformation upon Mr. Lam. As Wong laughs at the pitiful creature, Glas quickly dives away from the dome of birds and picks up Lam's weapon shouting ''Let's kill 'em all!'' Hana then draws her own gun on Glas to protect Wee Ming. Glas points his at Hana in return, standing by his goal to end this crazy charade by killing Wee Ming once and for all. The two argue incessantly, with Glas finally complying, hoping to God Hana knows what she's doing.
Glas gives her his ammunition and Hana battles against the Mr. Lam monster, killing it and then shooting a bullet into the head of Yim Lau Wong. Buying Wee Ming time, she offers her gratitude and returns Home. Not before reversing all of the damage this journey has wrought upon the trio; the restaurant is found to be completely demolished, with Glas' arm reattached and Deke alive, sitting on a toilet wondering what the hell just happened. Glas replies it's a long story, and the three of them walk together leaving the mess behind them.
The ending detailed in the Plot description is only attained by completing the game on hard mode; ordinarily, the ending stand-off between Hana and Glas forces the choice onto the player to choose between them. Hana - Good Ending
If the player chooses Hana, she will shoot Glas dead, then battles against the Mr. Lam Monster much like how the Best ending plays out. The only real difference is that Hana burns down the Restaurant herself. Hana - Bad Ending
If the player chooses Hana, she will shoot Glas dead, then battles against the Mr. Lam Monster much like how the Best Ending plays out. If she dies, however, the ending will preview her as what appears to be working for Yim Lau Wong, alongside Wee Ming, attempting to create a new World by murdering everyone. Glas - Good Ending
If the player chooses Glas, he will shoot Hana dead; Wee Ming then transforms into what appears to be her true form. Glas manages to kill her, with Wee Ming morphing into a simple paper cutout of herself. Glas retrieves it, but is forced to flee as the entire place begins to crumble above him. He burns down the restaurant, walking away narrating that life may just be coming up for him as he glances at the paper cutout of Wee Ming. Glas - Bad Ending
If the player chooses Glas, he will shoot Hana dead; Wee Ming then transforms into what appears to be her true form. Should Glas perish in this fight, Wee Ming learns to accept her role and returns top side. She is shown in a party, fully embracing her powers to reflect the souls of humanity.