Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Review (Switch eShop)


If you saw a ghost sneaking around, what would your first instinct be? Excuse us for that assumption, but we imagine it’s probably not “take a Polaroid”, is it? Tell the different heroes of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – Zero Project in Europe – who seem to imagine themselves budding Sir Donald McCullins and become happy whenever they see a geist, malicious or otherwise. We, however, would. Full Shaggy-of-Scooby-Doo legitimate.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that we are not talking about an ordinary camera here. The device brandished by the Fatal Framers (in fact they don’t call each other that) is the Camera Obscura, which captures more than precious memories. Indeed, using it with care can allow its wearer to capture ghosts, which, in practice, amounts to killing them. Again. Listen, the point is, you’re basically shooting ghosts to the death. We are just ahead of ourselves.

This is a port / remake of the Wii U episode of the long-running Fatal Frame series, although perhaps the scariest thing about the original version is its price in the second-hand market. Okay from Koei Tecmo, then, to re-release the game for Switch and make it such a remarkable job. If you’ve played it on Nintendo’s previous console – where the Gamepad “was” the camera – there’s no point in coming back here, but this neat mechanic has been revamped to work on a single screen as well as it does. ‘one might hope.

Follow the journey of three major protagonists (and a secret from another series, hush), you’ll take the Camera Obscura to all kinds of spooky places you really don’t want to go, in order to solve an extremely dark mystery involving suicidal sanctuary girls and the titular Black Water, a curse that both fuels the storytelling and gameplay.

You see, your playable character doesn’t want to get wet. If you are soaked to the bone you are more susceptible to the curse and if you take it your health bar will constantly deplete until you use an item to warm yourself up or eliminate all ghosts in the area. zoned. – and the latter is easier said than done.

While you normally play in third person mode, bringing out Camera Obscura – naturally – switches your view to first person, giving you a much larger blind spot. You have to “frame” (yes!) Your target and snap it until it disappears, being careful not to run out of film. There are different lenses and movie types to choose from, which adds a layer of strategy to the already demanding action, but it’s the kind of fun frenzy. One snapshot is usually not enough to take down a ghost, but taking pictures blows off pieces of their ghostly essence, and if you can frame them all, you’ll have a chance to banish the ghost properly. If you happen to have multiple ghosts in the frame when you do what the game calls “Shutter Chance”, well, that’s just gravy. With careful and skillful play, you can absolutely decimate a horde of ghosts with a few skillfully managed presses of the “ZR” button. You can also launch the titular “Fatal Frame” bonus by taking a photo at the last possible moment; a risky move, but very damaging.

When you’re not candid with a specter, you’ll find yourself engaged in some pretty typical survival horror exploration; navigating your way through each environment is fairly straightforward, with relatively basic controls. You can use your flashlight while holding “ZR”, which will allow your current character to follow the spirits in order to follow the next part of the story. It’s pretty linear, but in a way that suits the atmosphere of the spooky show.

Less good is the camera, which can sometimes be a bit dirty. It feels like the right stick has virtually no effect on it, and when surrounded by ghouls you’ll instinctively want to spin it when you can’t. You can run and turn quickly, but the camera always takes its time to catch up with you. Yes, that adds to the panic, but in a bit of a frustrating way.

The episodic structure makes Maiden of Black Water easy to get in and out of, with replayable episodes to earn higher ranks and earn more currency to unlock different costumes for each character. These, of course, fit well into the “novelty” ranks, but avid gamers will be disappointed with the removal of “engraving” lingerie in this locale. Notably, it wasn’t in the western version of the Wii U game either, but it’s still worth noting in case you really want to, really want to titillate a little while you deal with ghosts.

Visually, everything is really great. It goes without saying, but Fatal Frame sung on the OLED switch with its deeper, darker blacks. Unfortunately its performance is less impressive. While generally acceptable at 30 frames per second, we found there to be a lot of hitching – short, itchy freezes that tear you away from any kind of tension you might be feeling. We hope these annoying little bugs are fixed in a day one patch that promises to improve load times and fix bugs, but until then they’re a little depressing.


There is a lot to love about Maiden of Black Water; while we did not find it too scary, it is really very good to be strange. You will see ghosts out of the corner of your eye and when you check they will be gone. It’s oddly comfortable and non-stressful for a horror game, as your camera is such an effective weapon and the combat it spreads is too action-packed to really let the fear set in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although we found the earlier PlayStation 2 installments in the series were more interested in actively scaring the gamer. If you’re engrossed in the storyline – which is easy to do as the episodic structure makes “just one more area” a compelling prospect – you’ll find around fifteen hours of playtime here, and a lot more if you decide you want to. need it. to get higher ranks by upgrading your Camera Obscura with upgrades and other perks. Performance issues aside, this game is a real winner and worth taking if you’re a horror fan who missed it on Wii U.

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