Review by Arschrammen
Still stands as one of the best horror games and experiences ever
When I heard that Tecmo (who brought us such arousing hits, as DOA 1-4 and DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball 1 and 2) were going to release a survival horror game, Fatal Frame, I had mixed emotions. When I heard that the premise was that you go around taking photographs with a magic camera, I threw myself out of a window. But I decided to give it a go anyway because there was a really cute chick on the box cover.
I have been dying for a game that terrified me in the same way that Silent Hill did. This game is it. This is the kind of game where you don't know if you really want to go in that room or not because of what may lie in it. This is true horror, not just cheap scares Resident Evil zombie style; there is a deep underlying psychological terror that grips you and keeps you in a constant state of fear. This is the best gaming experience you can hope for.
Original and intriguing. You play as Mifu, who is looking for her brother, Mafuyu, who was investigating the disappearance of three people in the haunted Himura mansion when he suddenly vanished. Luckily for Mifu, she has a special camera which can absorb the souls of ghosts who wish to introduce her to her early grave. Conveniently, she also has a special sixth sense, with which she can see things others cant and can be triggered by touching the possessions of the tormented souls who previously occupied this house in whatever capacity. This equates to lots of terrifying flashbacks to people killed by ghosts, or the innocent tortured in bizarre Shinto rituals, the latter of which are supposed to be based on true stories.
Alot of the game is spent searching the mansion looking for clues as to what happened to your brother, and learning about the horrible history of the mansion. The "battle" system is very interesting and unique because, as mentioned, you go around with a special camera, which sounds pretty lame, but it actually very innovative and works really well in a horror setting because you are forced to get up close and personal with these ghosts who are really very terrifying. Battling is also much more complex than just pointing and taking a picture, so don't let the concept of magic cameras mislead you. The battles are very exciting and very, very tense.
The intensity of the ghost fights has almost everything to do with the sound, and it has been executed perfectly. Some of the ghosts plead for help while attacking you, others laugh maniacally, and others threaten you with aggressive and panicky speech such as "GIVE ME BACK MY CHILD." The music is also spine tingling and creates a truly haunted atmosphere.
The voice acting is very strange and sounds almost a little contrived. But strangely this is a good thing. It's hard to explain but it gives a very surreal quality to the performance which further heightens the creepiness of this game. If you could compare it to anything it would be the character of Frank in Blue Velvet with that kind of weird intensity.
Took some getting used to, but are refreshing and innovative and quite frankly, I like them. The only bizarre thing is there is no backwards movement - you press back and your character turns around. Sometimes this was annoying, especially in "fights," but it actually works out better to quickly turn, run away, then quickly turn again.
The graphics are simply beautiful. The textures, the characters, the environments, the ghosts, and the lighting and shadow effects... oh the shadow effect are going to mess with your head and your pants. They are truly amazing and glitch-free. The environments are very detailed and haunting. Many reviewers have complained that you cant see the environment that well due to the torch, but really... thats the point isn't it?
This game is quite long. It is seperated into four nights and each takes a few hours. There are different diffuculty levels to unlock and some bonus features, but I cant see the game as being as appealing after playing through it once. Having said this, given its length it will be hard to remember when ghosts attack you and whatnot, so this game probably does have some replay-value.
Overall, this game really whips a horse's behind with a belt. Truly spooky and original, it shouldn't be missed if you're a horror fan or just looking for an innovative, stylish, and thoroughly entertaining game. Brilliant.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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