LifeisXbox’s Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water review | Project Zero or otherwise known as Fatal Frame is perhaps one of the biggest genre-redefining games that came out in the early 2000s. But what is it that made the games so popular? I mean, it’s a game about fighting ghosts while trying to figure out some sort of mystery, time and time again. Doesn’t that just get milked dry after a while? Sure, you might say so. But the same could be said about every final fantasy game out there or your resident evil. No, what set this franchise apart was how you beat said spirits. Your Camera Obscura. This is a specialized photo camera that is designed to capture the essence of the spectres that are trying to bring you into their domain… Aka, they are doing their best to try and kill you. Koei Tecmo not only does an amazing job on the gameplay department but also the storytelling in each of these iterations. Or at least, they did up until Maiden of Black Water. This has always been regarded as kind of the black sheep of the bunch and also was the last one ever to come out of the franchise. And while fans of the series were always clambering for more? That thirst hasn’t been quenched yet. Instead of a new game, Koei decided to remaster one of their classics. So, are you ready to find out if they improved an otherwise kind of iffy game? Then grab onto your camera, bring your towels and get ready to venture into our review of… Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water!
ℹ️ | We played Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water for 6 hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on Switch, Playstation.
What we liked!
- New Fatal Frame Contect | Hold your horses, there is NEW content in this game. What I mean is that we finally get some more fatal frame content. The fanbase (me included) has been clambering for more Fatal Frame content for years. Sure, the content comes in the form of a remastered version of the original Wii U exclusive which has always been the “odd one of the bunch”, but it is still something new under the sun from the Fatal Frame franchise for us other console owners, or new fans of the franchise that haven’t been able to play any of the Fatal Frame games.
- Graphically underwhelming | Even though this is a remaster, I couldn’t really find a lot of difference between the OG content and this remastered version. Surrounding textures still look flat and smudged, with barely any extra detail to it, if any. Character models have weird textures pop in from time to time and hair can suddenly start to float without any reason. While lighting (from your flashlight) really looks clean and facial animation and overall appearance really does look fantastic, it gets drowned out by the fact that the rest of the entirety of the game just looks washed out, with an extra shade of dullness thrown about. What was even more hilarious, is the fact that they have… How do I put this? If you’ve ever seen the beach volleyball game Dead or Alive footage or played it? You’ll know that the characters in these games have certain… Assets that have extra detail in certain moving… parts. Yes… Our characters (female) have this too… Even the ghosts! I mean… What?
- Boring battles | They’re boring. Like, there is barely any challenge! When you’re playing as Rui, who has the most overpowered Camera Obscura in my opinion, you can literally just stand there, wait to get the fatal frame shot, spam 2 shots, and finish off with his 4x combo. This does not only bring the ghosts down to half their health at times but also stun locks them into place for a short while so that when the ghost comes in for another swoop? Your camera is ready to go for another round of spamming. I have had boss battles last 30~ish seconds because I just could cheap shot them into oblivion. Other Cameras take a bit more time, but that doesn’t matter. You can also still stand in place, take your shots and then continue along with the story. There is no suspense, what so ever!
- What’s the point… of the points? | Every Fatal Frame has had this feature, whenever you take pictures with your camera, you’ll accrue points along the way. Defeat an enemy? You’ll get points. Found extra items? At the end of the chapter, you’ll get points for the amount you carry around. These could then be used to buy health restoration items, embers that dry your clothes and remove corruption, extra film for your cameras, or… Upgrades for your Obscura! But now? There is no real reason for this. Sure you could buy some lenses, but points are doled out in such a huge amount that you have no real use for it after a while. There’s no need to buy items since every new chapter, you get 20 healing items and more than enough film and other stuff. You rarely get damaged during your run, and in case you would need it? You’ll find more herbal medicine just laying on the ground (not really hygienic but okay). Making the points? Moot…
- Lackluster story | Sadly enough, even this part of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water leaves us kind of wanting… I’ve put quite a few hours in, and still I didn’t really know what the main plots actually really was, not because there wasn’t enough dialogue or any of the sort. It just gets told to you in a very boring and dull way. I was blanking out more than I would have liked. There was only one interesting character, that I’m not going to spoil, and she wasn’t even one of the living ones! Your main protagonists? Are just as interesting as rye crackers. They really aren’t…! (sorry for anyone who loves rye crackers!)
- Too easy | When you are going through your first playthrough there will only be 2 difficulty settings that you can choose from. Easy and Normal. I like it hard, so I went for the highest difficulty which is Normal. But I actually didn’t have a hard time at all. As I already said before, the boss battles are boring, but your regular throw-away ghosts? They’re just pushovers! When you can see through the pattern that they have when they are going to attack? Then you’ll have no problem dealing with any threat out there! I actually wanted more of a challenge after a while and went for the lowest damage dealing and longest loading film for my camera obscura. The type-7 film. Why? Because any film that is higher than your infinite type-7 film just easy-claps them so fast that the game starts to feel less like a horror game, and more like Pokémon snap. If I want to just take silly pictures of ghosts? I’ll play that rather than this, thank you! It’s only after beating the game that you’ll unlock the Nightmare difficulty. Come on Koei, step away from this method and just give it to us from the start… Because the game on Normal feels way too easy already, especially since you give us more than enough items to survive straight out of the gate anyway!
What we disliked
- What the dodge? | The dodge mechanic hasn’t ever been really useful in any game. But in this one, it feels even more out of place. Sure, if you can tap the dodge button within its 0.005-sec timeframe that it’s shown then you’ll dodge the little bit of damage that the ghost attack does. But you’ll also have to slowly turn around again while priming your Camera Obscura yet again. In a battle, this dodge mechanic puts you in a worse position than you were before you dodged. What baffled me, even more, is that you are better of just stepping backward or left/right when you see the obvious animation of when the ghost is about to attack. You can just sidestep it…! Then why include this ridiculous move?
How long to beat the story | 12 to 14 hours.
How long to achieve 1000G | 16 hours.
Similar with | Every other Fatal Frame/Project Zero game.
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