HOR­ROR ON FILM

Fa­tal Frame: Maiden in Black Wa­ter

HWM (Malaysia) - - GAX - SPIN-OFF - by Az­izul Rah­man Is­mail

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.

FA­TAL GLANCE

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.

CON­CLU­SION

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