FEAR's goofy mix of Japanese horror and extravagant action was a PC gaming miracle

2005 was an odd year for both horror games and first-person shooters. Monolith Productions, one of the most beloved PC shooter developers (creators of Blood, No One Lives Forever, and Alien vs Predator 2 ) clearly wanted to prove it still had FPS chops after a Warner Bros acquired the studio in 2004—and FEAR was the result.

A bizarre mix of Max Payne's bullet-time and pop Japanese horror tropes, and wearing the 5 o'clock shadow of a grim military shooter, FEAR did the trick. It's full of genuinely creepy moments and some of the better jump scares in the horror genre. Even better, it's still home to some of the messiest and loudest firefights FPS games have seen yet. FEAR is a goofy mix of pop culture across film and games, mashing up the early '00s energy and visuals of The Ring with the action and arsenal of a Call of Duty. And somehow, it rules.  

On this episode of Reinstall, we look at FEAR's bizarre inspirations and examine why the scares and shooting still hold up today. 

Be sure to check out the rest of the Reinstall video series (opens in new tab) while you're at it, where we revisit everything from Kane and Lynch 2 to The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield.

James is stuck in an endless loop, playing the Dark Souls games on repeat until Elden Ring and Silksong set him free. He's a truffle pig for indie horror and weird FPS games too, seeking out games that actively hurt to play. Otherwise he's wandering Austin, identifying mushrooms and doodling grackles.