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Warning: This post contains spoilers.
In the 90s I really didn't understand the true potential of survival horror for a long time. The genre seemed more like a bad combination of poor controls and cheap scares.
My opinion completely changed after I played the original Fear Effect for the PS1.
Although Fear Effect was a cutting edge title when it came out, it looks terribly outdated by today's standards. The character models look like a mish mash of blocky polygons with cheaply drawn facial expressions. The video footage plays a very poor role in the gameplay. It hearkens back to the days where one step in the wrong direction will kill the main character.
However, Fear Effect knew how to scare people to death. In fact, main characters literally died one after another.
One of the most horrifying twists takes place when one of the protagonists, Royce Glas, stumbles into a violent gun battle from under the bed. Don't ask how it happens. Guys with uzis just love to hide under the bed. After Glas finishes this guy off, he walks outside the door. Little does he know that his enemy is hiding behind the door with a sword.
In one of the most violent plot twists, Mr. Lam slices off Glas's arm, leaving a really nasty pool of blood on the floor. If that wasn't bad enough, Mr. Lam decides to hang him in the freezing meat locker in the kitchen.
Of course, this isn't nearly as bad as what happens to Deke, the Australian bounty hunter. His dead body literally becomes a human trophy for Madam Chen to show off to the public. He doesn't just bleed to death. Madam Chen throws him through a glass roof. His head falls through a conveniently-placed spike, where his brains splatter out to the side.
Admittedly, this is a really violent survival horror game. However, the cutthroat timing and intense action make this one of the most thrilling action games I've ever played. The in-game action sequences are silly. However, the developers artistically mash the cutscenes and the fight scenes into a ruthless splatter-fest. If that wasn't frightening enough, the Game Over sequences are very, very painful to watch.
If anyone thought that Bioshock was scary, they shouldn't even dare touch Fear Effect. After a few hours of gameplay, they'll probably want to stay very far away from sharp objects. And dreaded stoves that could burn them to death.