Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Review – Spiritual Photography
Is Maiden of Black Water the game that will resurrect the series? The Fatal Frame franchise debuted on the PlayStation 2 more than two decades ago. It was a novel idea at the time, employing a camera as a weapon to not only photograph ghosts, but also to give a new type of gameplay than the usual survival horror of the period. The plot revolved around ghosts and cults, drawing inspiration from Japanese horror films from the 1990s such as Ringu and Ju-On.
It somehow ended up being a Nintendo exclusive franchise from the beginning of the Nintendo Wii up to the release of the most recent game, Maiden of Black Water, on the Nintendo Wii U. Back then, it was localized and published in the West by Nintendo, and most fans assumed that it meant the game would never be released on other platforms, but the current release of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water remastered proved them wrong. It’s nevertheless encouraging to see that the game is now available on practically every platform, leaving the door open for future entries in the series.
Maiden of Black Water was far from the greatest in the series. It was not well received by reviewers at its initial release. The game might have done a lot better if some of the content was trimmed, as the main story may take more than 10 hours to complete, and it has considerable repetition, especially with its ghost encounters. While it is fascinating to see a new ghost now and then, even if it does lead to occasional fights with hostile ghosts, the gameplay has little space for creativity and advancements, so you frequently repeat the same battles, resulting in tedious encounters.
Because the game was initially designed for the Nintendo Wii U, the major gameplay feature, the Camera Obscura, was based on a combination of motion controls and analog input. In the case of the Wii U, you may swivel the camera using the Gamepad. This design was kept and used in the remastered version with the Gyro motion controls. You can use analog controls or Gyro motion controls, but one thing is certain: the novelty will wear off soon. In battle, analog controls are preferable in the heat of the moment.
The plot centers on three main characters. While the majority of the story is fictitious, it does draw influence from the real-life Suicide Forest in Japan. The game takes place on Hikami Mountain, which is home to spiritual temples and shrine maidens. Their role is to assist those who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. The story’s premise is dark enough that it has an emotional impact, especially when you come across the background of a ghost with a tragic past. The three characters are intertwined in a series of timelines that converge at a single point, revealing more about Hikami Mountain’s dark and terrible past.
In the game, there are several varieties of ghosts. Not every one of them will be hostile. When a ghost is close, you will see flashes of white while you explore an area. At this moment, if you’re quick enough to whip out your Camera Obscura, you might be able to capture a ghost who is trapped performing something in their past. Some of them provide further information about what occurred in a certain area, while others serve as puzzles to guide the player properly.
Camera Obscura lets you not only photograph ghosts but also damage hostile ones that you may encounter on your quest. These will require you to concentrate on a specific object of interest and aim the Camera Obscura at it. You may perform several actions, such as a “Fatal Frame” shot, which occurs just when a Ghost is about to attack. The additional techniques allow you to deal more harm to the ghost, but the basics of the game boil down to taking a shot with the camera and attempting to earn as many points as possible. As a result, the gameplay suffers from repetition, making it unsuitable for extended periods of play.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many quality-of-life improvements in this remaster. Rather than correcting the pacing and gameplay, the emphasis has been on enhancing the visuals and introducing things like more outfits to unlock. You also get a photo mode that is quite detailed and should delight fans who want to take photos of their favorite characters dressed up in new outfits. As a result, if you finished it on the Wii U, you won’t gain anything new out of this. Although the restored graphics are crisper, they appear dated by current standards. Fortunately, the PS5 version supports 60 frames per second, allowing you to run the game at 4K with better performance than the original release.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Game Information
- Price: $39.99
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Koei Tecmo
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher