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

If you saw a ghost sweep by, what would be your first instinct? Forgive us for this assumption, but we assume that this is probably not a Polarroid, right? Tell that to the various heroes of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water – Project zero in Europe – who seem to imagine themselves as the up-and-coming Sir Donald McCullins and are happy every time they see a ghost, evil or malevolent. But we will overcome us. Full Shaggy-from-Scooby-Doo law

However, it’s worth noting that we’re not talking about a regular camera here. A device wielded by the Mortal Creators (in fact they are not called that) is a camera obscura that captures more than just cherished memories. Indeed, its careful use can allow its owner to capture ghosts, which in practice is actually the same as killing them. Again. Look, the point is, you are essentially photographing ghosts to death. We’re just getting ahead of ourselves.

This is a ported version / remake of the long-standing Fatal Frame series for Wii U, although perhaps the worst thing about the original version is its aftermarket price. It’s good that Koei Tecmo re-released the game for Switch and did such a flawless job with it. If you’ve played it before on a previous Nintendo console – where the gamepad “was” the camera – there’s no point in going back here, but this neat mechanic has been tweaked to work on a single screen, as one might hope.

Tracking the journey of the three main characters (and one secret character from another series, shhh), you’ll take your camera obscura to all sorts of creepy places you really wouldn’t want to go to uncover an extremely dark mystery involving suicidal handmaids and the titled Black Water, a curse that pervades both narrative and gameplay.

You see, your playable character doesn’t want to get wet. If you are drenched to the bone, you are more susceptible to the curse, and if you fall with it, your health bar will continually deplete until you use a warm up item or destroy all Revenants in the area. – and the latter is easier said than done.

While you usually play in third person mode, the appearance of Camera Obscura – naturally – switches your gaze to the first person view, which gives you a much larger blind spot. You have to “crop” (yes!) Your target and click until it disappears, being careful not to finish the film. There are a variety of lenses and film types to choose from, adding strategy to an already tricky action, but it’s fun and insane. One click is usually not enough to kill a ghost, but when you shoot, fragments of their ghostly essence fly out of them, and if you can create them all, you have a chance to exorcise the ghost properly. If you have multiple ghosts in the frame when you reach what the game calls “shutter chance,” well, that’s just a gravy. With careful and skillful play, you can completely destroy the horde of phantoms with just a couple of skillful clicks of the “ZR” button. You can also activate the Fatal Shot title bonus by taking a photo at the very last moment; a risky but very dangerous move.

When you’re not tackling Candid with a ghost, you will be drawn into a fairly typical survival horror exploration; going through each environment is fairly straightforward, with relatively simple controls. You can use your flashlight by holding ZR, which will allow your current character to follow the spirits to keep track of the next part of the story. It’s quite linear, but in a way fits with the show show vibe.

Less good is the camera, which can be a bit like a pig at times. The right stick seems to have almost no effect on it, and when surrounded by ghouls, you instinctively want to twist it, although this is completely impossible. You can run and turn quickly, but the camera still cleverly catches up to you. Yes, it adds to the panic, but in a way, it’s a little frustrating.

The episodic structure makes it easy to get in and out of Maiden of Black Water, and episodes can be replayed to get higher ranks and more currency to unlock different costumes for each character. They are, of course, quite among the “novelties”, but passionate gamers will be disappointed with the removal of “intaglio” underwear in this localization. It is noteworthy that this was not the case in the western version of the game for Wii U, but it is still worth noting if you really, Indeed I want to tickle my head a little while dealing with ghosts.

Visually, everything is really very good. Needless to say, but Fatal Frame sings on an OLED switch with deeper and darker blacks. Unfortunately, its performance is less impressive. While 30fps is generally acceptable, we found there were quite a few hitch – short, annoying freezes that take you out of whatever stress you might be experiencing. We hope that these annoying little bugs will be addressed in the Day 1 patch, which promises to improve load times and fix bugs, but at the same time they are a little depressing.


There is a lot to love about The Maiden of Black Water; until we found it too scary, he’s really really good at being creepy. You will see ghosts out of the corner of your eye, and when you check, they will disappear. It’s surprisingly cozy and not stressful for a horror game because your camera is such an effective weapon and the combat it promotes is too action-packed to really allow any fear to creep into it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although we found that in the past, Parts of the PlayStation 2 series were more interested in actively intimidating the player. If you get into the storyline – which is easy to do as the episodic structure makes “another area” an attractive prospect – you’ll find around 15 hours of play here and more if you decide what you need to get higher ranks while improving your camera obscura through updates and other gifts. Performance issues aside, this game is a real winner and well worth buying if you’re a fan of the horror that missed it on Wii U.

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