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Fatal Frame Returns With Maiden of Black Water

Courtesy of Koei Tecmo

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Remaster

Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: October 28, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical (Asian Only)

Koei Tecmo Gives Us Another Import With The Latest Fatal Frame

In 2014, or 2015 outside of Japan, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water was released as a Wii U exclusive. To date, this was the fifth and final game released in the Fatal Frame or Zero franchise. Infamously, only four of the five games were ever released in the West as the Wii version remains a Japan-exclusive. While each game is self-contained, with characters from previous games featuring as occasional cameos, they all share a similar premise. An abandoned house haunted by ghosts that can only be defeated by a special camera, wielded usually by Japanese women who happen to be trapped in said houses.

Beginning with the original 2002 release on the PS2, Fatal Frame took cues from various supernatural Japanese films, including Ringu, Ju-On, and Dark Water. Coincidentally, all three mentioned movies were released close to or around the same time as Fatal Frame, contributing to Japan's supernatural renaissance. Personally speaking, I have played the original game via a demo disc. Once upon a time, DVDs featuring bundles of game demos were included in magazines such as the Official US Playstation Magazine.

Fatal Frame Maiden of Black Water 1
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The Mystical Camera Will Be Your Salvation Or Downfall

In the original, players had to aim the camera, line up with the hostile ghosts, and take shots to "fight" them. The better the shot, the higher the chance of scoring a critical hit. Eventually, it became satisfying if not grotesque to get the ghost's "good side" so to speak. Later games like the Dead Rising series would use a similar mechanic with the camera as a way to take screenshots of the zombies. Coincidentally, both games are from different developers, with two different genres involving survival horror.

While Maiden of Black Water is the last title to be released in the series for over seven years, a remaster was announced. This remaster would simplify the "dual-screen" controls of the original, as the Wii U gamepad was used for the majority of the game's features. Aside from a graphical overhaul, increased fidelity, and a stable framerate, relevant bonuses were also included. These bonuses came in the form of costumes, specifically promoting Atelier Ryza. Redemption required a workaround similar to what we did with Super Robot Wars' DLC. This also held true when accessing the PS5 upgrade from a physical copy, meaning we needed to use a Hong Kong PSN account.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water Ryza DLC
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Once Again, Region Free Was The Best Addition To Gaming. Period.

In the Super Robot Wars 30 first look, I discussed how to create a JP Region Nintendo account. This was imperative to redeem the bundled DLC along with obtaining a digital copy. In the case of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, the game is available worldwide despite a limited Asian physical release. What we're looking at is the Taiwan physical version, complete with descriptions and screenshots of the game. Countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Indonesia are placed under an umbrella region known simply as "Asia." These versions contain similar content to their Western counterparts including English and Japanese text, making it import friendly. There is a catch.

As mentioned earlier, a Hong Kong PSN account is needed in order to upgrade the PS4 physical copy to the PS5 version. As well as redeem the Ryza costume DLC. Attempting to do so with a US PSN account will leave an error message stating the code is for a different region. Since Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water was only released physically in Asia, attempting to do the Upgrade method will bring up the game's information based on its US region. Fortunately, creating an HK PSN account is as easy as changing the region, bearing in mind the language change during the process.

yuri ryza costume
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Fatal Frame, But With Motion Controls

Once we tested that the PS5 upgrade worked with our physical copy, it was time to meet the Maiden of Black Water. Upon starting the game, and changing the language to English as it's set to Chinese by default, the player is greeted with a grotesque image. There's a woman at a shrine who finds herself at the mercy of several spirits. Despite alluding capture, she ends up taken in by the ghostly shrine maidens, ending the prologue. It is here that the actual game begins with chapter 1 taking control of Yuri, an assistant to Hisoka who owns an antique shop.

Yuri appears to have a rather dark past, shown with various flashbacks exposing her ability to feel the supernatural. This comes into play sooner than later as the pair enter an abandoned inn to retrieve a photo album. However, at this abandoned inn, there are those who wish not to let go of such antiques freely. Like the original Wii U title, the remastered Maiden of Black Water uses motion controls, taking advantage of the DualSense controller. This is used to aim and change the orientation of the viewfinder to line up a perfect shot. While these options can be turned off, its addition is a neat nod to the original title. Unfortunately, it got disorienting so I had to turn it off.

FF combat
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Maiden of Black Water Looks Beautiful While PS5 Enhanced

The remaster of a seven-year-old game manages to hold its own, largely due to the graphic engine itself being similar to Dead or Alive. This is noticeable from the models of the characters themselves, but also due to the aesthetics. While most environments are dark and bleak, considering the nature of the beast, there are beautiful moments few and far in between. The first chapter takes place during sunset, baking the inside of the abandoned inn with an optimistic orange hue. However, as the player explores the depths of the inn, the light wanes and the chilling darkness comes forth.

While already an impressive game visually, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water looks as if it was a new Fatal Frame title released today on the PS5. The enhancements, while subtle, make playing on next-gen hardware a necessary experience. The camera gameplay, fighting with vengeful ghosts and exorcising them with film, is easier to grasp this time around.

ff yuri
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The emphasis on resources is diminished compared to previous entries, leaving players with a way to fight no matter the situation. While most of this title's intrigue came from setting things up on a technical side, the actual gameplay is a refreshing return to the classic Japanese horror the series is known for.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is available on the PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Switch.

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