Terror at Sea

The Sixth Generation could easily be described as a golden age of horror games. It was a time that so many titles experimented with something new knowing full well the intense competition they had from Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

Cold Fear was one such title that came out during this Golden Age. Like so many, it tried to do something different while still being in a familiar setting. Also like so many titles, it never got the respect it deserved because of the intense competition. It was a horror experience that knew its audience all too well while also trying to do something different.

Horror Game Icon will now look back at Cold Fear and reflect on why it was such a great title and why it has been forgotten.

Cold Fear 001

Welcome to the Eastern Spirit

After a Navy SEAL raid on the Eastern Spirit (a Russian whaling ship) ends in the team being wiped out, the USCGC Ravenswood is dispatched to investigate. The crew boards the whaling ship and splits up only to be attacked. Tom Hansen is the only one to survive and now must figure out what is happening while also finding a way to escape.

While exploring the ship, he encounters a group of Russian mercenaries battling other crew members who have mutated. After finding a radio, he is contacted by a CIA agent who have been monitoring the situation. It’s revealed that the ship was a front being used by a rogue Russian General to experiment with a parasitic organisms. Hansen must uncover the details about the project and prevent the parasites from being unleashed.

At first glance, Cold Fear looked like a standard horror game. The gameplay was the standard setup used by most titles at the time. The plot along with most of the horror elements were clearly inspired by The Thing and Resident Evil along with the movie Virus (hopefully you know what I’m talking about). While not original, it was clear that this was more of a horror game for horror fans.

However it had one unique gameplay feature that made it stand out, having players battle the environment. Hansen not only had to battle the infected but also cope with a ship in the middle of a storm. The tilting of the ship presented many challenges as players had to be cautious on deck or they were at risk of being knocked off the ship. This elemental feature brought a new layer of challenges to the game that made it stand out.

A Lost Nightmare

Cold Fear was one of many titles from this Golden Age of gaming horror that attempted to take players to a new nightmare. Also like so many titles of its time, it was overshadowed by other works. For this title, it was really all about very bad timing. This was an era dominated by the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series while titles like Fatal Frame, The Thing, The Suffering and Manhunt pushed the boundaries of horror.

In regards to Cold Fear, it all has to do with the poor release date. The game was released right between the GameCube launch and the PS2 launch of the highly anticipated Resident Evil 4. Having been sandwiched between the launch of one of the most influential horror titles hurt its sales potential. Making matters worse was how unfairly critics compared Cold Fear to Resident Evil 4.

Like so many other great horror titles of the time, Cold Fear fell into obscurity because it was overshadowed by more highly anticipated titles. Those who wish to try out this lost classic could still pick it up on the Steam Store.

Did you ever play Cold Fear and what are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comment section.

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