Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
We’re taught water safety at a young age, but none of those lessons prepared us for the kind of water in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater. Originally released on the Nintendo Wii U back in 2014, this remaster was recently released on every modern console. I never really got the chance to experience this game when it first came out. I was excited to hear that this game was coming out on a system that I owned and that I would get the chance to play it. While I enjoyed my time with Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water certain aspects of it kept it from being a truly amazing experience.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water revolves around three playable characters, Yuri Kozukata, Ren Hojo, and Miu Hinasaki. Mina is daughter of Miku Hinasaki, the recurring protagonist of the series. Each character is drawn to the Hikami Mountain with different motivations and will learn the mystery behind this cursed place. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is broken up into selectable chapters, enabling players to replay story beats unlike in previous entries. Most chapters follow a generic progression path: you’ll leave the antique shop you to visit the mountain, do what you need to do, and leave the mountain. For about half the game you’ll have to go all the way to the bottom from where you started. I don’t think that’s bad by any means but I know some players won’t like that backtracking. Given that the game’s other settings is either a village or a house it just feels odd. The true problem that the story has is with its pacing. A lot will happen all at once and then nothing will happen for a while. It’s not even suspenseful since sometimes you’re left waiting for plot development; some chapters will go on and nothing major happens.
One of this game’s strengths is in the controls of the ever-powerful Camera Obscura. The original release of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water had you control the Camera Obscura by moving the Wii U Gamepad. I was a little worried coming into this port because I didn’t know if they were going to incorporate the motion controls on other systems. I played this on the PS4 and they were able to keep the motion controls intact. You can move your controller to move the camera just as if you were moving the Wii U Gamepad. They also included the chance to operate the Camera Obscura with just the analog sticks. I played a lot of this game with the motion controls but when I got into it I switched over to traditional controls. Both controlled well and it was easy to switch and adjust.
The ghost combat is as tight as it’s ever been with each character that you play having a different special ability with the Camera Obscura, keeping players on their toes. Outside of combat some of the character movements feels clunky. You have the ability where you can see where you’re supposed to go by pushing R2 but this is also mapped to picking up an item. This caused me problems because there were many times where I would attempt to pick up an item but it would register that I was trying to see where I was supposed to go.
Also, something that carried over from Fatal Frame IV is the intense pickup of an item. The camera will slowly zoom in when you reach out for an item because there’s a chance that a ghost can grab you, and honestly, I didn’t get tired of it. I never really got grabbed by a ghost after the first couple of times but it keeps you alert. The atmosphere of the mountain and the sound design are probably what I like best about this game. Some moments had me panicked as I tried to combat the ghost in this dark and dreary setting. The use of lighting and sound brought out the game’s true potential and it’s been one of the strengths of this series and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is no different.
Overall while not a perfect experience because of some clunky controls outside of combat and weird story pacing, Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water is a title that any fan of survival horror should look to have added to their collection. Not only is it a good survival horror game but it’s a pretty good indication that future games in the series will come to more than just Nintendo consoles. Maybe with your support we will eventually get a port of Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse stateside.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water
While not a perfect experience because of some clunky controls outside of combat and weird story pacing, Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water is a title that any fan of survival horror should look to have added to their collection.