524th played so far


Genre: Survival Horror
Platform: Playstation 2
Year of Release: 2003
Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo

The Fatal Frame series is one we’ve been avoiding for a bit. Not because of our dislike of survival horror games – although Resident Evil has certainly put us off, something like Silent Hill was great to play.

No, Fatal Frame was meant to be that frightening. Ghosts are only seen through a camera, and that being the only way to capture them. They are supposed to be that scary that it was an issue early on. This is one we’re playing in bright daylight.

Our Thoughts

Fatal Frame II was incredibly effective at spooking you. There is just enough exposition to make you worry, there’s the suspense because you know something will happen soon (making the slow bits more tense while paying off quite well). What helped as well is that exploration often paid off, not just with items, but with scary prospects and hints at future puzzles and sightings. There are a bunch of random occurences as well.

The central mechanism is what helps so much. As might be obvious, the game is set around photography – you need to look through a camera to track ghosts and take photos of them to defeat and capture them. All your upgrades are centered around this as well, working as a non-lethal weapon.

It’s an interesting setup for an adventure. Exploring smaller Japanese houses makes for a scary enough setting, always contained so you know there aren’t many places to search, while at the same time not giving you a chance to get away from what’s threatening you. And knowing these things are coming, you have to be ready when you step into the room. The camera mechanic makes them even more challenging: it forces you to limit your field of view, which means that as the ghosts teleport or move around you, it’s a lot more difficult to keep up, and a lot more tense as you fight them. Even so, the limitations aren’t unfairly so – various camera-based indicators stick around even if they normally wouldn’t be there.

Final Thoughts

Atmosphere is a big part of survival horror games, and Fatal Frame II has that in spades. Added to that, the controls are better than a Resident Evil, but still limiting and constricting – just for a good reason this time, the camera constricting your movement. It’s tense enough to keep you on your toes, but also enough breathers that you can keep going.

And we have another one in the series coming up.