If you’re anything like millions of people all over the globe, you’ve never even heard of the Fatal Frame game series.
I’m about to change that.
Let me start this off by saying that – even as a child – I had nerves of steel. My family exposed me to every horror film of the 80’s and 90’s and as a result, scare tactics and jump-out-at-you tricks never work on me. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let me tell you about Fatal Frame.
I first played the second in the series, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. Daring gamer girl that I am, I would wait until my boyfriend at the time was out at his band’s gigs or fast asleep before shutting off the lights and playing this game in the middle of the night. Being a brave girl, I knew I could handle it…or I thought I could.
It turns out, the first thing to ever haunt my dreams was Fatal Frame II. Who would have guessed?
The sequence of games was created by Tecmo and they did a phenomenal job on this project as the Fatal Frame series (known as Project Zero in Europe) is one of the most well-received survival horror games to date!
It is based around an abandoned village in Japan where dark rituals of the Occult once took place. In each of the Fatal Frame games, the main character(s) are either twin siblings or a single entity whom lost someone close to them and they are all somehow – and unbeknownst to them – tied into the sinister events of the village in some way.
Armed only with what is known as the Camera Obscura, you must figure out a way to save your sibling (or partner) all the while capturing the – usually hostile – spirits within your camera.
Fight scenes are very different from common survival horror and often take you by surprise so you must be quick to react! There were several times that I jumped in my seat from fright. Anyone who is familiar with me, knows this is something to be duly noted. (Consider it done.)
Ammo is fairly ample as it is found all over the various, abandoned buildings you explore and is in the form of camera film. The higher the film grade, the easier you capture ghosts. There are some who are much more difficult to trap so you must keep your eye on your Heads Up Display and use the right film! Wasting the high grade on weak spirits is not recommended as it is harder to come by.
In Crimson Butterfly, the Spirit Stone Radio was introduced and makes for an even creepier game play (remember, I started with this one so I’m twice as lucky!). The radio is powered by crystals that drop from enemies you have defeated along the way. These are often haunting, melancholy messages and thoughts from the long dead. Listening to these in a dark room in the middle of the night is only suggested for those without a weak heart. Honestly.
On top of being the most terrifying game that most hard-core horror gamers have ever played, it also has several puzzles that you must solve to proceed into certain rooms, areas and to receive an important item.
Perhaps you don’t like puzzles; fear not! I promise it is nothing that you cannot handle with a bit of careful thought.
If you still doubt my fantastic ability to suggest a game that can make your blood run cold, I may offer you this piece of information: All of the Fatal Frame games continue to hold their value, priced at anywhere from $20(£12.61)-$90(£56.74) pre-owned. That may give you an indication of the immensity of epic horror that this chain of games exudes.
So, if you find yourself thinking about what that dusty, old Playstation 2 or XBOX is still good for, I highly suggest purchasing one of the following games and giving it a go!
Did I mentioned these games are based on a true story? I may have left that bit out. 😉
Fatal Frame: PS2 and XBOX
Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly: PS2, XBOX (Director’s Cut edition was later released in 2004) and released on Wii in June 2012
Fatal Frame III: PS2 only
Fatal Frame IV: Only available in Japan. It’s rumoured Western release has not been verified despite fan claims. Boo!
If you need further convincing, I urge you to take a look at this video.