HORROR ON FILM
Fatal Frame: Maiden in Black Water
Fatal Frame, an atmospheric and plodding horror game series that uses a photography mechanic to battle ghosts, is the perfect addition for a system like the Wii U. The Wii U GamePad, with its motion detection and secondary screen design, is the ideal analog to a camera. But that is only true in theory, and with the release of Fatal Frame: Maiden in Black Water,
that idea is put to the test.
HISTORY OF DEATH AND SUICIDES Fatal Frame: Maiden in Black
Water in the fifth entry in the series that tells three interconnecting stories – each uncovering the mysteries surrounding Mikami mountain and its surrounding forest.
You play as Yuuri Kozukata, who has the ability to bring people from the shadow world back into the real world; Ren Hojo, an author and friend of Yuuri who goes to the mountain to research his new book; and Miu Hinasaki, the daughter of recurring Fatal Frame protagonist Miku Hinasaki. Using the Camera Obscura, a film camera with supernatural properties, the three protagonists seek to understand, and perhaps appease the dark forces that have been plaguing the mountain and everyone connected to it. CAMERA OBSCURA At the core of the game is the camera mechanic. The Camera Obscura is used to defeat evil spirits, expose hidden items, and a whole lot more. Using the Wii U GamePad literally like a camera, players have to take pictures of apparitions to garner points; evil spirits to banish them; and rotate the camera at certain angles to make items appear. It takes some getting used to, and it could use a little more polish, but it is exactly what we’d hope it would be in the end: intuitive.
And that’s where the gameplay innovation ends. Everything else about the game is built on Japanese horror tropes and anime clichés.
Maiden in Black Water is rife with everything anime, and is an undeniably Japanese creation in nature. Characters are designed like living dolls, and are as lively as a plastic container. Controls are a mixed bag with fun motion controls and horrendous mechanics. Picking up item is a chore as you’d have to press and hold the shoulder button until the character picks up the item – all in the name of building up artificial tension.
Due to the characters’ doll-like nature, there are also costumes that range from the pandering Samus Zero-Suit to the fan-service nightgown. And the story is what you would expect from an anime, clear as Milo.
The saving grace in Fatal Frame: Maiden in Black Water is the Japanese voiceovers. It’s so well done that it makes up for all the cookie-cutter mediocrity. The English voice talents, however, demonstrate the full emotional range of a pebble.
Maiden in Black
Water shows what the Wii U can bring to the genre, but did not demonstrate its full potential.