Project-Zero

Review: Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water

Project Zero, or Fatal Frame as most call it, is a rather old horror franchise with a lot of fans worldwide. The newest addition ‘Maiden of Black Water’ released on Wii U just before Halloween but is it worth getting? The goal of the game is to capture ghosts with your special camera and that’s a lot scarier than it might sound.

The creepy Japan

Project Zero is huge in Japan and is even considered one of the best horror franchises. The franchise isn’t that popular in the rest of the world so it’s a miracle we can actually play Maiden of Black Water. Since the main audience is Japanese, it won’t be a surprise that the game brings you to a dark virtual version of Japan.

Mount Hikami is the main location of the game and is one of the most mysterious mountains of Japan. The mysterious mountain is known for its history, a history that isn’t pretty. Ritual suicide, mysterious murders and maniacs cutting out eyes of passengers, just a few examples of what happened on the mountain. It’s no place a tourist would like to visit but it forms the heart of this Maiden of Black Water.

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Different characters

The game tells the story of three characters, with the mountain as common interest. First of all there’s the paranormal Yuuri Kozukata who can bring in objects and persons of the shadow world into our world. This skill is needed to solve a wide variety of puzzles or to take down the enemies with powerful objects or with the help of other shadow creatures. Yuuri is without a doubt the most intriguing and mysterious character in the cast; her story was the most interesting one in our opinion.

Next to Yuuri, you’ll also meet Ren Hojo, a more traditional character. Ren is a writer who’s seeking inspiration in the history of the mountain. Needless to say, he’ll find more than he was looking for. Ren is an interesting person since it’s one of the few characters you’ll actually see developing during the game.

The last playable character is Miu Hinasaki, a young girl that’s desperately looking for her missing sister. Her sister was seen around the mountain so Miu is looking for her on the mysterious grounds. She’s brave when it comes to finding her sister but all in all, Miu still remains a scared little girl surrounded by ghosts. She is the character with the more intense missions since she’s very vulnerable.

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The story is filled with different goals thanks to these three characters but it’s not always for the better good. The story is hard to follow since each character has its own mission and goals. If you put the game away for some time, it will be hard to remember what’s going on afterwards. The story is a little too complex and it would have been better if the creators focused on one or two playable characters. The mystery of the mountain and Maiden in Black is interesting enough for a solo adventure. That being said, the game’s still scary as hell!

Spooky atmosphere

Sure, the story could have been a lot better but the game really nails the scary setting. The entire game is very dark and the only light comes from your small flashlight. It’s amazing to see how good the game manages to create a constant and uncomfortable atmosphere. You never know what to expect or where the ghosts will pop up. The darkness and soundtrack take this experience to another level. Thanks to the music and its effects you’ll get sucked into the creepy atmosphere for sure, the game is best enjoyed in the darkness with the curtains closed.

 

Take some deadly pictures!

 

Aside of the sound effects, the level design are very interesting and add a lot to the total experience. The Japanese setting and culture is interesting but scary at the same time when you see it in this setting. The Japanese temples and other locations are interesting enough to keep you going in the rather lengthy story.

Time to capture some ghosts

That being said, let’s talk about the actual gameplay. Fans of the Fatal Frame / Project Zero franchise know what to expect. The core gameplay is to find ghosts and ‘kill’ them with you special Camera Obscura. The trick is that those ghosts aren’t visible in the regular world but only appear on your Camera. It’s this that makes the game so intense. You don’t see the ghosts until you discover them in the room with the help of the GamePad.

This won’t come as a surprise but the GamePad is used as your Camera Obscura, meaning you’ll need to hold it in front of you the entire time and scan for ghosts using the gyroscopes. This works very intuitive and is one of the better GamePad games in a long time. The only downside about this system is the weight of the controller. Since it isn’t a light controller, you’ll struggle to keep it in front of you the entire time, especially when you’re playing longer sessions.

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Capturing and defeating the ghosts however is a great experience and isn’t something you’ll find on other platforms. You always know there’s something in the room with you, finding it with the GamePad is very thrilling. Too bad the system doesn’t innovate during the gameplay, resulting in a rather repetitive gameplay after a couple of hours.

Technical issues

The major thing that’s keeping Project Zero from being a triple A game are the technical issues however. The game doesn’t look or feel like something that was created for Wii U in 2015. Instead, the game looks like a PlayStation 2 game that released a couple of years ago. The mountain is filled with loading screens and the gameplay doesn’t offer that needed variation we’re used to see in other games. It’s a shame the team didn’t spend more time and budget on the visuals and technical issues, with a little more details and modern technology, this would have been a game every Wii U gamer should have.

Don’t get us wrong, the game is certainly playable and it’s not bad but it would have been better to have some more modern technology behind it. Fans of the Fatal Frame / Project Zero franchise will still enjoy this episode a lot!

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Conclusion:

Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water isn’t a bad game. It offers a thrilling adventure in a creepy version of Japan, filled with ghosts. The story isn’t always easy to follow but the atmosphere is so unique that you don’t need a great story. Capturing ghosts with you GamePad works intuitive but could have used some variation to stay fresh. All in all, it’s not a bad game but it isn’t a triple A Nintendo game. Fans of the franchise will absolutely adore this episode while other players will need to consider if this kind of game is something they would enjoy. If you’re into horror games or games with unique atmospheres, this one is definitely worth checking out.

7.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.

2 Comments
  1. Dae Jim November 3, 2015 at 11:52

    For some reason very interested for this game ^^ Love horror games and the GamePad as camera gameplay looks interesting :) If I ever buy that WiiU this game will surely come with it.

  2. Lander Van der Biest November 3, 2015 at 19:11

    It’s a very interesting game for sure! Not the best on the console but one with some of the best GamePad support ^^

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