Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A Different Kind of Survival Horror Games – Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water Review

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Fatal Frame Maiden of Blackwater is going to be, for most players, a fresh take on the survival horror genre. This series of games has been around since early 2000s and this release is more of an enhanced edition than remaster and definitely not a remake of a 2014 video game from the main series of Japanese survival horror video games known as Zero in Japan or Project Zero outside the US like Europe and Australia.

Fatal Frame, Maiden of Blackwater, for Xbox series X, Xbox series S,  PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4 with Nintendo Switch, and PC is probably the first time most gamers are going to be interacting with this unique survival horror game series from Japan Koei Tecmo.

Let’s see if this scary video game is more than just cheap jump scares, and waifu fan service.

Gameplay

The premise of the gameplay is actually quite simple, and where a lot of players might be deterred from playing the game, but the female character waifu girl focused survivors might be enough to keep you on track.

You survive by the use an object called the Camera Obscura to point at ghosts, enemies, and photograph them in a way that deals different levels of damage depending on the quality of your photo and film which is your ammo. You do collect as you play currency for skin unlocks and consumables like revive items, HP recovery items, and the usual survival horror, games, stuff.

It is a third person non-open world linear exploration style of gameplay with first person being the only way you can aim and defend or attack.

At first you might find it constraining and sluggish, but just like I did, hold on and focus! Don’t quit the game cause it actually does feel really good once you get the hang of it. Check out the performance section to see why Xbox One S might be holding you back from enjoying this title though.

Ultimately, it takes a little bit to realize that this is a true survival horror game, in my gameplay journey I came to appreciate this unique take on survival horror by not having an emphasis to use weapons unlike in a more action game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Instead it is a unique way of handling the paranormal.

You play as one of 3 fictional characters with a 4th fictional character being found in an extra mission where you play as anime waifu Ayane from the Dead or Alive series.

All characters have their own costumes and unlocks that you can get by spending the in game currency which you get by taking great pictures. Also all of the characters pretty much play the same, but do come with their own voice lines and outfits which you can change before starting a chapter. Sadly you can’t change outfits once a level has started.

Gameplay wise it is unique, but simple and about halfway through the game you have pretty much experienced everything you will, when it comes to gameplay mechanics.

It is so different, though that more than likely you have never played anything like it, and it will take you until almost half the game to truly understand and enjoy or hate the mechanics.

Story

The game takes place in Japan around the 1980s specially in a fictional mountain of Hikami. Did the story gets delivered in a slow pace that fits typical survival horror games with actually decent Cutscenes that get elevated to a really good quality level due to the engaging atmospheric sound design that has carried over the franchise since the first game.

I will keep spoilers away, but just know that it is a slow story and it does rely on the use of jump scares strongly, but it tackles serious topics that if you’re familiar with Logan Paul, you will know what kind of topic I’m talking about. It does have some heavy moments, and I think it is a serious story worth experiencing, but definitely not AAA level.

Graphics/Performance

Now let’s talk graphics, and performance. With graphics you’ve got to remember this video game is not a AAA title so don’t expect mind blowing textures and complex artwork, but I believe that the color grading sound design and voice acting bring together a visual presentation that is unique enough to differentiated itself from other titles in the same genre, like resident evil and silent Hill.

Let me know in the comments section. What do you think of the look of the game? Do you like the art style or is it to bland for your taste?

For performance here you go with the Xbox one S and the Xbox one X and as you can see Xbox one X technically has on average a little lower frame rate FPS than the Xbox one is, but it does not come with screen, tearing and in my experience lower input lag.

The Xbox one is barely keeps up and it is playable, but a little painful is the way I would describe it.

Resolution wise Xbox one S is probably running at 900 P  and the Xbox one X I can tell that it has to be at least 1440 P with maybe 4K because you can definitely see how much sharper image.

Now moving onto the next generation Xbox series, X an Xbox series S as you can see both try a 60 FPS target, but do not hit it

That is not an issue though if you have VRR or variable, refresh rate TV, or monitor little bubble on top for an explanation on what that is but with that turned on the input lag is almost nonexistent without it it is still a much better experience than on the last generation of Xbox consoles.

I’m surprised that the Xbox series X doesn’t deliver a locked 60 FPS, but with the reduced input lag and higher resolution, it is better than the Xbox one X thanks to that reduced input lag.

The Xbox series S delivers an image that is I believe 1440 P because it looks pretty much as sharp as the Xbox one X and Xbox series X. The loading screens are also improved drastically.

Sound

The sound design is tense and immersive, but don’t expect The Callisto Protocol levels of immersion here, I recommend checking out my video review on that game, but you are getting a good 2014 none triple A sound design here that fits the game nicely.

Achievements/Fan Service

According to TrueAchievements it can take about 50-60 hours to get all the achievements. This is not an easy pick up and play a team and unlocking title.

On the fan service side of things I can confirm for science, that gravity performs its sacred duties by allowing the melons to react to the laws and physics of nature, so be at ease man of culture.

The costumes and outfits are good and fun limited in quantity though, but you are here for the horror and pretty faces so you shouldn’t be complaining too much. The Japanese Voice over is there for us Japanese speaking fans.

Conclusion:

To conclude fatal frame, Maiden of Blackwater is a fresh new yet old approach to horror that I believe western video game players should at least give it a try. If you are looking for something more action survival horror game style than look no further than The Callisto Protocol (link to review)

Survival Horror Games
Survival Horror Games

They have the fourth game in the series coming out early 2023 called fatal frame, mask of the lunar eclipse, which never made it out of Japan until next year so make sure you subscribe and follow me because you bet I will be covering that game for sure when it comes out.

Sayonara!

Richard Calder
Richard Calder
Richard Calder loves tech and gaming so much he has owned a team and competed in Gears Latin Esports scene. Believes tech is a bicycle for the mind. He leads by example by editing and recording most, if not all, of his content on devices like iPhone and iPad to teach content creators that it’s not the tools rather the creative mind that truly matters.

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