Cold Fear was released in the same year as Resident Evil 4 was, but unlike the notable game Cold Fear never managed to get the popularity of the customers. The game is easy to criticize: unobvious ways, hidden passages, limited amount of ammo, cheap horror and jump scare scenes. With that, Cold Fear remains one of the most prominent examples of the genre: it has everything what is needed for creation of a good horror video game. Level design is indeed sometimes obnoxious, the mission tasks are not always understandable but as for the game itself, it presents a really good story, excellent horror narrative experience and utilizes the theme of invasion of parasites in a better way than Resident Evil 4 did.
I never was fan of Resident Evil franchise, I gave it numerous tries but it failed every time to amuse me whenever I wanted it. I disliked all games with similar formula, which means that the main concept was not suitable for me. With that, I appreciated and valued opinion of many different fans who praised this franchise and especially enjoyed Resident Evil 4. While this game was alien for me, I played it up until the meeting with Salazar in his castle and even proceeded to basement where the main character encountered invisible creatures. When I was thinking what made me quit I realized that it was a huge amount of enemies, some pesky and annoying to deal with creatures, like invisible monsters and general difficulty of boss fights.
Cold Fear has none of these. You won’t see there invisible, flying, mimicking, regenerating or other sorts of beings, which created difficulties in RE games. You won’t find many boss fights here too. The amount of enemies is less than an average RE game has and some of them are intelligent enough to use ranged weapons. Because of this Cold Fear turns into absolutely different game, which combines shooting elements with exploration of levels but does it in its own unique way.
Puzzles always were the most frustrating part of RE franchises. All of them are illogical and don’t make sense. Who would leave a statue in the police center to open the hidden passage with it? Who would leave these marks in the church in the fourth part of the series? Who would ever use these pieces of puzzles, which you could find in the remake of the original game? They just don’t make any sense. Puzzles must be logical and have sense for an average gamer with an average IQ – not everyone is genius here after all. Cold Fear does not have any riddles, which make you scratch your head and this is another advantage of this game.
It has atmosphere, good combat elements, great exploration moments and some tension, where the character is surrounded by many creatures and has a little time to deal with them. The game is certainly good but not popular – Silent Hill and Resident Evil monopolized the genre at that time – as a result, other horror games of this kind like The Suffering or Obscure could not find its place in the world.
Cold Fear is the example of a good game with some serious flaws – sometimes you don’t know where to go and what to do. With that, it had unique and very interesting elements like ships motions during the storm, which could create obstacles in combat. Cold Fear is not perfect, but it was good enough to give it a chance. Meanwhile everyone was playing Resident Evil 4 and a lot of people just missed this game.
Modern generation of gamers does not remember it, they were too young then. These who played or followed the market must recall a wave of successful from design point of view products, which did not become commercial hits. Cold Fear was just one of many games of this kind alongside with Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth and many-many others.
If it were a review, we would talk about the gameplay, graphics, controls and sounds. Instead, we tell a story of a product, which could have become profitable, had the main ideas of Resident Evil 4 but somehow did not become popular when it had all chances for it. Ubisoft could make millions of dollars on the cycle, they could utilize this franchise in full. Instead, they abandoned it after the first unsuccessful attempt while they could adapt it to the modern format of video games, release something else or revive it by other means and opportunities. Nowadays it’s too late; the time of games of this kind has already gone. Cold Fear still remains a good product with some serious flaws but no one knows about it.