Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – Review

fatal frame maiden black water
Release Date
October 28, 2021
Publisher
KOEI TECMO
Developer
KOEI TECMO
Platform
PS4, PS5
Reviewed on
PS5
Review Copy provided by
KOEI TECMO

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is a remaster of the 2014 Wii U game. I have not played the Wii U version of the game but I have played Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Fans of the game are sure to be enjoying this version as this will be the first time this game comes back to the PlayStation console.

Fatal Frame is a game that is famous for its Camera Obscura. The camera that allows you to take pictures of ghosts. You will probably think how lame is that? Why would I want to go into a place full of ghosts to take pictures of them? Well the camera just doesn’t take pictures of ghosts, it actually kills or exorcises them. This is because the Camera Obscura is a special camera that has the capability of exorcising ghosts.

The story of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water revolves around three characters: Yuri, Ren, and Miu. They embark on this quest up Mt. Hikami to figure out what happened to the people that go up there and disappear. The first chapter of the games teaches you the basic mechanics including how to move around and how to use the Camera Obscura.

As I mentioned, the game is divided into chapters. Each chapter starts with the loadout screen where you can purchase items and put on costumes for your characters. You can purchase items with points that you can get from killing ghosts or capturing pictures of moments in the game. The better the picture, the more points you can get. Each chapter has a specific character that you will control.

The Camera Obscura also uses points for you to upgrade it. You can upgrade features like range of shots and charge speed for films. You can also upgrade the lenses that you can attach to the camera. Up to three lenses can be equipped and these lenses can further enhance your camera. The type of film you have is also very important as there are films that that are more powerful against ghosts. Think of the films as ammo as you can only have a limited amount of them. While there is a film that is unlimited, it is the weakest ammo and can only do little amount of damage to the ghosts.

The Fatal Frame name comes from the shot you make with the Camera. A fatal frame is a shot where you either capture the ghost at the moment it’s about to attack you or when you capture a picture of the ghost with its spirit fragments. The spirit fragments appear when you shoot the ghost with the camera.

The variety of lenses and film makes for an interesting combat gameplay. A gameplay that is unique to this series. However, I feel like this game is not as scary as its predecessors. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that you can flee from a fight if you don’t want to deal with the enemies. Add the fact that your camera can get too OP even at the start of the game.

The camera also has its other uses. You can use the camera to solve puzzles or get items from the nether realm. It’s a cool feature that I haven’t seen in the previous games. It is also thanks to the camera that you can track your objective.

I like that the game is divided into chapters. It gives you breathing room for when you want to take a break from the intensity that the game provides. But this also means there are no save points. The game does auto save your progress though so you should be starting off where you left off if you decide to quit the game mid chapter.

The game’s story talks heavily about suicide and death. I think that in this day and age, the game should have at least provided a warning that these themes are being explored. If you’re dealing with mental health issues this is probably not a good game for you to play so be warned as the game can be very graphic in that regard.

Even though Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water was also made for the PS5, the graphics doesn’t seem to have been improved. There isn’t even an option for HDR settings. They did mention that the only feature that’s new to the game is the Photo Mode. This is actually a cool feature if you just want to explore the game and take pictures. That is of course if you’d like to have nightmares. The graphics does help giving it that eerie and creepy feel.

The camera controls suffer from the issues of games past. Even though you have full control of the camera, there are still times where if you run to a wall quickly enough that the camera will pan out and you’d find yourself facing the otherworldly dimension of nothingness.

Audio for the game is really good. It definitely makes up most of what makes the game scary. It adds to the thrill of when you are fighting against ghosts and fumbling your way with the camera to ensure you get that Fatal Frame shot. It is thanks to this excellent audio that you’d probably not be able to sleep at night.

The one mechanic that stood out to me the most was when your character picks up items. Unlike in other games, picking up items in this game is actually very tense and anxiety driven. It’s because when you try to pick up an item, a ghost arm will sometimes try and grab you as well. Being grabbed by the ghost arm can make you lose HP. This feature probably comprises most of the jump scares of the game. No matter how prepared I am to the ghost arm, I still get jumpy whenever it shows up.

The one I found hilarious as a mechanic though was the wetness indicator. In this game, if you get drenched in rain or if you get wet by walking through a river, a wetness indicator gets activated. Getting wet in this game makes you more susceptible to malignant ghosts. So keeping dry is very important here. Of course, the game finds ways to get you wet, whether having you cross a river or making it rain randomly. I just find it funny because this is obviously fan service as you can visibly tell when the players are drenched. Don’t get me wrong, fan servicing is truly welcome but it does take away from the game being frightful.

Overall, the game is a good horror game for anyone to play especially for fans of the series. It feels good to have the series back on the PlayStation console and it has all the good parts that you would miss of Fatal Frame. It’s creepy, it’s eerie and an all-around scary delight that is just in time for Halloween. If you’ve been wanting to play any Fatal Frame games for this generation’s console, then this is definitely a must buy.

fatal frame maiden black water
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – Review
Score Definition
It’s a fun game that has its few kinks that can easily be ignored.
Pros
Fatal Frame is finally home
Can't get enough of the Camera Obscura
A chilling story that will definitely creep you out
That ghost arm needs to chill
Cons
Camera control issues
No warning about the issues related to mental health
Wetness indicator is such an obvious fan service
8.6
Great