Out of the various horror games out there, only a few are as terrifying throughout as the Fatal Frame series. For some, the most terrifying release was Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, the ill-fated Wii U exclusive. Six years later, KOEI Tecmo decided to join Nintendo and remaster it so more gamers can finally experience the latest chilling entry. With so much time between releases, is it still a franchise worth your time or is it better forgotten like the Wii U itself?
The remastered version of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water offers the same amount of content the original did several years ago, except for certain content that has been cut out, which is quite disappointing. For anyone hoping that KOEI Tecmo would bring out the costumes such as Samus, it all has been removed for the remastered version, but it pretty much stays the same when it comes to the core content.
Eerie & Horrific Atmosphere
For newcomers, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water follows the three main protagonists: Yuri Kozukata, a young girl who was sent to the mountain in search of a missing person, Rhen Hojo, to research the phenomena that have been happening in the mountains, and Miu Hinasaki seeking her long lost mother. While it may sound that having three main protagonists will contribute to a much more interesting story, sorry to disappoint because the story is mediocre at best. What the game succeeds in most is building that horrific atmosphere that is well known to Fatal Frame games.
Unlike Resident Evil or Silent Hill games, where the protagonist uses guns, the main weapon that Yuri uses is the Camera Obscura, which is a supernatural camera that can exorcise ghosts. Whenever a ghost appears, the character will simply take out the camera, use a specific film as ammunition, and focus on the ghost for a fatal frame shot.
When the game first debuted on the Wii U, using the Game Pad as the Camera Obscura seemed to work well with the game but when the remastered version transitioned to a primary controller, the controls could take some time to master. For PC players, there is sadly no mouse support, which is quite disappointing as the movements of the camera are controlled through the keyboard.
Play the game in glorious 4K resolution
Fatal Frame games never fail to give that horrific and eerie atmosphere. With Maiden of Black Water, expect the game to be scary most of the time, providing jump scares and designs that really look spooky. As the three protagonists investigate the mystery of the suicides and deaths on Mt. Hikami, you will see impressive environmental designs that build tension across the game. Some of the ghosts that you get to see may seem monotonous, and find their voices laughable, especially when they try to taunt the characters. However, the scare factor is still there and really doesn’t disappoint.
For a game that is about six years old, you can tell that the game has aged quite a little bit. The controls can really be clunky at times, and if you are playing on PC, I would really recommend it playing using the controller. The movement can be pretty slow and the new generation of gamers might be turned off with the somewhat-classic approach of the game. The pacing is slow and can take some time to build up. When the game debuted in 2015, its pacing approach was quite alright, but with many horror games that now pace a lot faster, it could give a different approach for fans.
Visually, the game has improved thanks to KOEI Tecmo completely remastering it. The game can be played up to 4K resolution for those playing on PC, and the console version, like the PS5, plays it at a solid 60 frames per second. If you are playing on PC, however, and have set your monitor at a high refresh rate, the game doesn’t currently have a patch that locks it, and playing it on a higher refresh rate will make the game run at 2x the speed, giving you all sorts of problems such as voices going out of sync. Luckily, the fix to it is to make sure you set your refresh rate at 60 frames per second. However, for console players, you won’t have that problem as the game is capped at 60.
Take photos of the undead with the Camera Obscura
When KOEI Tecmo announced that Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water would get a remaster, I was excited to see the costumes they released on the Wii U version. Seeing Yuri wear Samus’ costume or Zelda is something I’m looking forward to, but it was taken away. While the core content is there, it is just disappointing that they took away what many fans were looking forward to.
As far as new content goes, the game now has a Photo Mode which the game calls Snap Mode. There’s also a series of new costumes that characters can wear, like the ones from Atelier Ryza, and the ability to play the game as Ayane after beating it once.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Review Verdict
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water: Unfortunately, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water wasn't perfect when it released on Nintendo Wii U, nor is does the remaster fix everything. While the flaws hold it back, the game succeeds by providing the horrific and eerie atmosphere for which the franchise is known. There is a lot that fans will appreciate; it's newcomers who might not care for the dated approach. However, whether you're a fan or a newcomer, if you give Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water a fair chance, you'll likely not be disappointed. – Mark