A cult classic still holds up strong today.
When talking about Survival Horror entries for the PlayStation 2, a couple of iconic franchises come to mind. Silent Hill, of course – seeing as Silent Hill 2 is considered by many, as the greatest Survival Horror game of all time and of course, Resident Evil, which had a whopping six titles for the PlayStation 2 alone.
Less talked about is the, Fatal Frame series from Tecmo. Legendary among fans of the genre, Fatal Frame is known to be the scariest game of all time and I can’t disagree with them.
A fresh take on the genre from the get go – setting itself apart from other survival horror contemporaries by boldly stating, “Based on a true story.” And lending further credence to this, “true story” by taking place in 1986. Which I absolutely love a good horror time piece. Especially in gaming, which seems much more rare. No gizmos, no cellphones, no cool technology.
Set in 1986 the game follows siblings Miku and Mafuyu Hinasaki. Mafuyu goes off to explore a rumored-to-be-haunted mansion, Himuro Mansion in Japan. He is in search for famous novelist and his tutor, Junsei Takamine when he too, disappears. Leading to you taking over as his sister, Miku two weeks later, now searching for her brother. Since no one believes in calling the cops in 1986 Japan, apparently.
You learn pretty early on that you posess a pretty powerful tool. A camera, the Camera Obscura, that was passed down to you through your mother. It is capable of seeing things undetectable by the human eye. It is your lifeline and only weapon throughout the game. Using the flash of your camera to ward off nefarious spirits and there are plenty.
Visually the game is sharp, usually relying on first person camera views for jump scares and sepia tones as most of the plot is told through flashbacks. The game leans heavily on the atmosphere it builds throughout being a particular treat when playing with headphones on. Somewhere halfway through the game, at a particularly jump-scare point you don’t realize the game lacks a soundtrack until the bang of Koto scares the living shit out of you.
Being a product of its time, released in Japan in 2001 and considered a sleeper success later in North America it is marred by tank controls which may turn off younger gamers not brought up with awkward camera angles and hard to sometimes difficult to handle mirrored controls but between a heartbreaking back story of protagonist, Miku own life and the tragedy that has befallen the mansion itself, the story is largely worth the difficulty of the game. A true masterpiece in the survival horror genre that holds up to this day.
Overall: 94% (GOLD)