Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water Review
Japanese horror is arguably the best and scariest branch of its kind that will literally freeze your blood. Cinematic beasts from the east, like Ringu and Ju-On: The grudge, are profound examples of how crippling Japanese horror can be and Maiden of Black Water is certainly pulling on those creepy strings.
Released as the fifth entry in the Fatal frame series – known in Europe and Australia as Zero Project – Maiden of Black Water was first released in 2014 and was originally released by Nintendo for the Wii U. Developer Koei Tecmo, has now reclaimed the publishing rights for the survival horror remaster for consoles. eighth and ninth generation and Windows. Previous titles were called Crimson Butterfly, The Tormented, and Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, and Maiden of Black Water uses the lore and mechanics of water to its advantage.
This terrifying episode places the fictional Mount Hikami at the center of a number of disappearances and unexplained suicides in the region. During the approximately 15 hours of play, I was able to control the three protagonists leading these spooky investigations: Ren Hojo, Miu Hinasaki and Yuri Kozukata. Each character has their own abilities, such as ‘shadow reading’, to help piece together the various notes and mysteries laid at their feet, with frequent appearances from the talented Hisoka Kurosawa. The “mountain of death” serves as a looming shadow for the entire game, as I have been tasked with searching a number of locations with the help of my colleagues in order to find the poor souls who had vanished.
Note: This review is spoiler-free, however, the themes, characters, and monsters are briefly discussed.
It could be argued that Maiden of Black Water didn’t necessarily need a remake for the new platforms, especially since not much has changed. Sure, the graphics are sharper, rounder, and the ghosts have an extra amount of gruesome twist on their faces, but these survival horrors sometimes work best with older style graphics, especially when photography is involved.
My photographic commentary, of course, refers to one of the main mechanics of the game, where your protagonist has to use a camera to first capture evidence of ghosts, find objects that cannot be seen by the eye. human and, more importantly, to fight ghosts. The Camera Obscura is a returning mechanic in the franchise and unique to it, bringing another Japanese horror film, Shutter, to take into account whenever you need to take a photo of the walking dead. By properly framing the ghosts that haunt you, it can inflict more damage to the spirit and possibly cause it to evaporate – that is, if you keep your cool. There will be plenty of brave souls, myself included, who will initially trigger the camera mechanic like hungry paparazzi, in order to create some distance between you and your black-eyed enemies.
The spirits you meet with so-called missing people, as well as the titular maidens, are just petrifying. This reaction is not directly caused by their classic washed out and gaping appearance, but rather by the horrible moans and screams they make when they surround you, or worse when you defeat them. Sound design is therefore one of the most effective qualities in the game and something that will stay with you until sunrise after a restless night’s sleep. As the narrative progresses, however, scares become rare and ghost appearances become a repetitive annoyance rather than a relentless nightmare.
Sound design is therefore one of the most effective qualities in the game and something that will stay with you until sunrise after a restless night’s sleep.
Maiden of Black Water often has you navigating narrow hallways or wooded paths with tight turns and the responsive controls don’t adapt so well to that. If I didn’t sprint the character from point A to point B, then it was a painstaking journey. While this slow pace was quite effective in the dark forest or when I was surrounded by ghosts – initiating a sort of nightmare sequence – it was rather painful to complete tasks during the day when checking everything interactive was already a chore. Even sitting through the unusually long cutscenes to open doors or drawers added to the banality of the tasks initially issued at the start of each section.
Also, the shortcuts and general editing between picking up something, being grabbed by the hand of a ghost, and returning to my original position were all a little hard to see and cut short my immersion in the true horror of the Another factor that distracted me was the game’s old-fashioned approach to crafting female protagonists, where the telltale outfits and unnecessary jerks made my viewing look a bit cheesy. The dialogue between the characters was also pretty bland, with my curiosity only really piqued when mountain lore or character history came into play.
The mysteries of storytelling and revealing at the heart of this game are the elixir that keeps the camera running in its polished execution, but the awkward basic controls and mundane filler scenes keep the survival horror from being truly a horrible work of art.
In summary, Maiden of Black Water nails down the horror elements and Koei Tecmo knows how to tap into those underlying fears we have of being alone, being watched, and being haunted. The mysteries of storytelling and revealing at the heart of this game are the elixir that keeps the camera running in its polished execution, but the awkward basic controls and mundane filler scenes keep the survival horror from being truly a horrible work of art.
It might not be the most compatible game to navigate, but the sound design, lore, and overall aesthetic of Maiden of Black Water brings the horror of the real forest of Aokigahara in Japan to life and you will at least leave plenty of insomnia this Halloween.
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