Fear Factor: Unleashed is a game based on the US stunt/dare TV game show Fear Factor that initially ran on NBC from 2001 to 2006. The shows pits contestants against each other in a variety of stunts for a grand prize. In this adaptation a character is created at the start with minor customizability options (hair colour, skin tone and costume colour) and twenty skill points to distribute over four statistics that influence the performance: nerve, stamina, steadiness and stomach. A random type of fear is also assigned to the characters, such as acrophobia, claustrophobia, herpetophobia, tachophobia etc. The character then gets to compete in twelve mini-games based around stunts.
The main game modes are Custom, Fear Factor, Multiplayer and Practice. Each game starts with a brief explanation of the stunt and the controls that are used. One example is The Pit and the Pendulum. In a fixed screen environment shown from a side view a character is tied up near the bottom of the screen while a swinging axe descends slowly. The player needs to balance a fear meter to keep it steady while opening a lock by moving a shaft and locking barrels. In single-player the character competes against five other contestants who each get their turn with a time to beat. In another challenge, Gross Out Buffet, the character needs to gobble down Madagascar cockroaches. Examples of other challenges are Creepy Conveyor Belt (move maggots between conveyor belts using your mouth), Helicopter Havoc (use ropes to jump between helicopters in flight) and Runaway Train (obstacle course on top of a moving train). The fear meter is a returning element in each mini-game.