There is no doubt that the genus horror have always enjoyed a charm in its own way unique in the gaming industry. The public likes to be scared, they like to feel that contemptuous sense of anxiety and anguish that pervades us as we move through a narrow and dark corridor, unsure of what awaits us a few steps away. From Silent Hill to Resident Evil, and then get to Dead Space And Alone in the Dark, there are countless brand names that have remained etched in the minds of the videogame people, yet there are countless lesser-known IPs that have in any case been able to somehow capture the interest of niches of fans. Between these, figure in particular Fatal Frame (now Project Zero in the West), a series of titles with a distinctly oriental taste based on the idea that cameras can imprint the image of ghosts on film that have never left the world of the living. Starting from this premise, the creature by Koei Tecmo continued to terrify fans until 2014, that is, until we saw the arrival of Maiden of Black Water exclusively on WiiU. Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridges and if on the one hand some thought that the IP was definitively dead, others were sure of its return. Well, seven years after the last release, the Japanese company has answered the prayers of the fans by officially confirming that Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water would be back thanks to a remastered version, which we could touch and which we will talk about in our review. The epic of Koei Tecmo will it have withstood the weight of the years?
There are countless areas of Japan renowned for their “ghostly” peculiarities, but among all the sadly known “Forest of suicides” of Aokigahara, where many people have decided to take their own lives. Own the theme of suicide represents the basis on which the events of Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water, which will narrate the deeds of the three characters that we will control in-game.
Specifically, the adventure will make us live the eerie story of Yuri Kozukata, a girl found in the balance between life and death after attempting suicide, being saved at the last minute by the owner of an antique shop in possession of Camera Obscura (yes, precisely the camera that allows you to perceive ghosts invisible to the human eye and photograph them in order to make them make the “big leap”), Ren Hojo, writer dedicated to the study of legends related to the world of spirits, e Miu Hinasaki, a mysterious girl about whom we will initially know very little.
All three the stories will quickly intertwine with each other on the Mount Hikami, a place that is said to be haunted by ghosts and that at sunset allows the living to perceive the presence of the dead. We have no intention of making any spoilers on the narrative of the game – which despite being released many years ago, we are pretty sure they will have tried very few here in Italy), but we would like to specify that the script has been able to assert itself, managing to put on the a succession of fascinating events, well-written characters and some successful twists, all flanked by multiple endings that will come up depending on our in-game actions, potentially enriching not a little an already basic more than satisfactory longevity . Note of merit also for the setting, which coupled with some rare but perfectly successful jumpscare has been able to beautifully restore that sense of disorientation and restlessness that horror productions are not always able to offer.
The weight of the years
From a distinctly playful point of view, it is impossible not to denote how the production has not changed one iota compared to the structure (already woody) that characterized the original work, with an unwanted heaviness that will annoy us throughout the whole ‘adventure. The core of the whole experience – identifiable as a classic third-person survival horror – is obviously the Camera Obscura, only “weapon” that we can use for defend ourselves from the many ghosts who will try to take us to the other world. For this review we have explored the PlayStation 5 version of the in detail Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water, and in this specific case the use of Camera Obscura relies on the keys of the Dualsense coupled with the gyroscope to offer greater precision during combat.
In fact, once our trusty Chamber has been challenged, the view will pass firsthand and we will be able to aim at the various spirits that will appear before us; once in the frame, we will then be able to take useful photos to weaken the enemies and obtain energy in the meantime that will allow us to launch a particularly powerful shot in the form of a “special” photograph, called Fatal Frame.
To season everything we will then find various upgrades for our improper weapon that can be purchased using the points obtained at each level, including new lenses, various photographic films and special actions related to the three characters that will simplify our life during the clashes, however always able to offer a good challenge. To close the circle there are various environmental puzzles that will enrich and variegate the gameplay, pleasant extras that unfortunately clash with a repetitiveness of the settings at times disarming, weighed down by a constant backtracking that will slow down the game even more.
Unfortunately, also from a technical point of view Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water does not shine, suffering from shortcomings that cannot be ignored in a remastered. Bare scenarios, low-resolution textures and a backward lighting system collide with the introduction of 60 FPS and polygonal models of the characters enriched with various details that significantly improve the overall appearance. The sound sector turned out to be much more successful, characterized by an excellent sampling of ambient sounds (or more properly spectral) and by an excellent level of dubbing in both English and Japanese. That said, the game unfortunately does not present any localization of the texts in Italian, a lack that could complicate the life of many gamers.
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