Game: Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water (Europe) / Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (North America)
If you’re a fan of the horror genre as far as games go, this might be (scary) fun for you.
The story centers on Mount Hikami, which has the infamous reputation of being a popular suicide spot. The mountain and its surrounding areas are said to be haunted by the spirits of suicide victims. Some of the most malevolent spirits are said to be able to induce weaker spirits who visit the mountain to commit suicide.
As a player, you control three different characters throughout the different chapters of the game, explore the surroundings of the mountain, collect clues to advance the story, while being confronted with ghosts. You are armed with a special camera (camera obscura) which you use to fend off malevolent spirits by taking their pictures, as the camera flash deals damage. With enough damage, the spirits will be exorcised. The camera is also a useful tool for finding clues by taking pictures of places and objects of interest as you progress through the game. For people who like to customize weapons, you’ll enjoy be able to “customize” the camera obscura with various accessories and upgrades. From a game mechanics perspective, I’m not the biggest fan of the camera obscura, although I’m sure many will find its charm in it. There’s just something about wielding a sword or shooting through a double-barreled shotgun that’s always stuck with me. But it’s not that kind of game, so I understand the value of the camera obscura here, as a sort of multi-tool.
You will also find various items around the map such as healing elixirs and camera accessories which will be useful to you throughout the game. You also have the option of purchasing these items at the start of each chapter with the points you you would have collected by playing the previous chapters.
When it comes to the horror aspect, the game certainly delivers. The atmosphere is disturbing and destabilizing from the start. The pace is slow, but it goes well with the atmosphere. So while it may lack the action that other games in the genre can offer, the adrenaline rush comes from the various jump scares and other horror movie tropes (especially J-horror). You’re basically part of a slow-paced Japanese horror movie. Turn off the lights, put on headphones, prepare a change of underwear and enjoy!