Tecmo’s first in their classic survivor horror series: Fatal Frame, is now available to download from the PSN store for play on PS3. Originally on PS2, the first Fatal Frame game lets you play as Miku as she explores a haunted Japanese mansion in search of her missing brother. Miku is armed with a special camera that lets her fend off ghosts when she takes a picture of them. Help her search the spooky mansion as she solves the mystery of her missing brother and an underlying horrific ancient ritual. It’s supposedly based on a true story, as the title screen suggests.
In the game, you control Miku as she walks around the mansion. Check pieces of furniture and shiny objects on the ground to pick up items like healing herbs for when you take damage, or camera film so you can take more shots. Gather other items, like newspaper clippings, notebook scraps, and photos to help solve puzzles and piece together the mystery. Make sure to stop by the glowing blue cameras on tripods so you can save your game—extremely important for when you go up against ghosts!
Speaking of which, every so often, ghosts will come out and try to attack you! When this happens, it’s time to get out your camera and start snapping! When you push the circle button, Miku will get out her camera and the game will go into a special camera view. When the ghost is in the frame, the circle reticule around the sprit will turn blue. You can snap a photo then to take a little bit of damage. But if you wait until the ghost is about to attack and the reticule turns orange, you’ll earn more points if you can snap a shot then. You buy upgrades for your camera based on your score, so you’ll want to take the best shots as possible so you can upgrade your camera quicker. If this sounds a lot like a 3DS game I wrote about last year called Spirit Camera, that’s because it is! Spirit Camera is actually a spin-off of the Fatal Frame series.
There are a couple of problems with Fatal Frame, though. Sometimes goals and objectives can be a little unclear. Even worse is the play control. Switching to camera mode takes too much time, and while the ghosts glide effortlessly and can teleport at will, Miku moves like she just woke up in the morning all groggy and everything! She won’t run fast even when ghosts are chasing her! It makes the game needlessly difficult, especially since the spirits take off a large chunk of your energy if they get you. I wish there was an ‘easy mode’ or something, as I lost quite a bit even at the beginning. If the sequels in the series improved on those aspects, I wouldn’t mind playing them if they were available to download on PSN, because I think ghost stories are cool.
Fatal Frame is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Blood, Gore, and Violence. Normally when I review a game with a T or M label, I will usually let things slide a tiny bit and say that it may be OK for kids younger than the label to play the game. But not in this case. In fact, I’m going to swing the opposite way here. I don’t know if the ESRB was more lenient back in 2002, but there some pretty spooky looking ghosts and horrific photos and text accounts of murderous rituals and deaths. And the ghosts are pretty good at jumping right out at you! Maybe older teens would be fine, but I think Fatal Frame is best for mature gamers only.