[Nintendo Switch] FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water Review

by EdEN, Owner

FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water is a revamped take on the Nintendo Wii U title to celebrate the series 20th anniversary. Learn more in our FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water review!

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FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water from Koei Tecmo America is revamped take on the Nintendo Wii U title to celebrate the series 20th anniversary. The FATAL FRAME series was started by Tecmo way back in 2001 on PlayStation 2 when Koei and Tecmo were two separate companies. Known in Japan as Zero and as Project Zero in Europe, it’s a survival horror game in which you must defeat the ghosts you find in the creepy locations you explore. You use a special camera that can be used to not only see the ghosts but also to drain their energy by capturing their essence within the camera.

As someone who played and enjoyed the first three games in the trilogy – FATAL FRAME, FATAL FRAME II: Crimson Butterfly, and FATAL FRAME III: The Tormented – as well as the Nintendo 3DS spinoff Spirit Camera – which used an AR booklet to make the most of the console’s camera – I was very much looking forward to checking out FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water on Nintendo Switch, since I ended up missing the game on the Nintendo Wii U.

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FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water didn’t get a physical release in North America, instead getting a digital release as a demo download that could then be upgraded to the full release by way of an in-game DLC purchase. It’s now 2021, and we’re getting a revamped take on the game – once again as a digital-only release – that gives us the definitive edition of this survival horror experience. Along with an improved resolution and lighting, this new version includes a new Photo Mode that will allow you to use any of the characters or ghosts from the game, position them over a background of your choice, add different effects, and take the perfect horror picture. There are also new accessories and costumes for the protagonists.

There are two Operation Mode options for your controls while in Search Mode: Classic and Action. For Classic, you will walk with the left analog stick and look around with the right one. You’ll run with the ZL button, aim your camera with the L button, and can aim the camera backward while running by pressing the L and ZL buttons. Before this, just ready the camera by pressing the X button, and then snap a shot while pressing the L button and pressing the Y button. Pick up items with the ZR button, perform an action with the A button, and dodge with the B button. The Action Mode changes things by having you ready the camera with the ZL button, aim with the L button, run with the R button, and aim the camera backward by pressing the L and R buttons at the same time. For both, you’ll be able to take a look at a map of the area you’re exploring by pressing the + button.

Search Mode is the one during which you have some time to review your surroundings as you try to find new clues and items, while Photo Mode is when things get a bit more hectic since there are evil spirits coming after you, and you must quickly use the Camera Obscura to use the camera to lock onto an enemy, to then take a photo with the ZR button, which is how you attack a ghost to absorb its essence to eradicate it. If a ghost grabs hold of you, you will need to quickly press the ZR button to shake off the ghost. There’s the option of using an upgraded lens by pressing the Y button, switching between them by pressing up or down on the D-Pad. Pressing left or right will make it possible to switch film. If you go for the Action Mode setup, the changes will be that you will use an upgraded lens with the R button and can put the camera away with the ZL button instead of with the X button. You can also decide to use motion controls for aiming the camera if you want an even more immersive experience.

The Camera Obscura is very important since it will allow you to follow the essence of ghosts while in Search Mode so that you can see where you should be going to find new items or some clues to point you in the right direction. You can also take a picture of these essences to get some extra points so that you can upgrade your equipment – more on this in a bit. Some items must also be called back into existence by using the Camera Obscura to capture their essence so that they can materialize before you.

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When fighting against ghosts, there are some things for you to consider. You can’t take photographs with the Camera Obscura if you’re out of film. You will need to focus on a ghost and have it within the frame for the capture that the camera can cover. You must make sure to take a picture of a ghost’s weak point so that you can deal extra damage. If you do everything right and wait for a ghost to be extra close – but not too close since it will otherwise grab you and deal damage – you can land a Fatal Frame shot, which will deal considerable damage while granting you a bunch of points.

For this, you’re going to have to pay attention to the frame of the capture area so that you can take a picture when it’s flashing red. You basically need to catch a ghost on film while it’s close to you and mid-attack! This will also activate Fatal Time, which will allow you to take several pictures in close succession without using films. When damaging ghosts, some fragments will break off. You need to photograph the fragments as fast as possible, or else they’ll be reabsorbed. If you plan things right and have five targets within the capture area of the camera – which includes ghosts and any fragments – you will activate a Shutter Chance, which will knock back ghosts.

Given the game’s name, black water has to play a role in this FATAL FRAME, right? There’s going to be a wetness gauge on the lower right corner of the screen that will light up when you come into contact with water. If you’re drenched, you’ll be an easier target for evil spirits, so you’re going to want to use some purifying embers to dry yourself. You’ll sometimes end up tainted due to all the evil spirit energy. If this happens, you must quickly defeat all ghosts in your vicinity or use purifying embers, or else your health will constantly drain until you’re dead!

Based on your performance in each section of the game – the difficulty you played on, how fast you were at clearing it, how many points you earned, and how many bonus points you get for the items in your inventory that you don’t use, such as herbal medicine or sacred water – you will be given an overall score and a rank. Points can be used to unlock bonus costumes and accessories for characters to wear, purchase items, or improve your camera and other various equipment.

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You could purchase more medicinal herb or sacred water to restore some of your lost health, purchase a very useful mirrorstone that can revive you if you die, purchase different types of film – either the regular Type-14 film your camera is equipped with, or more powerful Type-61 and Type-90 film that can be used to deal more damage to ghosts while also increasing the score you can get for your pictures – or perhaps you’d like to buy a psychic lens for your camera so that you can experience spiritual phenomena.

If you’re a fan of the series and missed out on FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water on Nintendo Wii U – because, you know, the poor thing didn’t sell that many console units – then you have no excuse and must get FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water on Nintendo Switch since it’s a solid evolution of what was presented on the PlayStation 2 trilogy and the Nintendo Wii Japan-Only Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, all while paying homage to its Nintendo Wii U roots thanks to the motion controls and how you can twist the camera’s view around to photograph as many ghosts and fragments as possible, even if that means twisting the Nintendo Switch around in Portable Mode until your arms are crossed.

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You can get FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water for $39.99 either directly from the Nintendo eshop on its own, or you can buy the FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water Digital Deluxe Edition for $54.99, which includes the game, the 20th Anniversary Digital Art Book, as well as a set of costumes from past protagonists of the FATAL FRAME series:

– Mio Amakura Outfit (from “FATAL FRAME Ⅱ Crimson Butterfly”)
– Rei Kurosawa Outfit (from “FATAL FRAME Ⅲ The Tormented”)
– Miku Hinasaki Outfit 1 (from “FATAL FRAME”)
– Miku Hinasaki Outfit 2 (from “FATAL FRAME”)
– Mayu Amakura Outfit (from “FATAL FRAME Ⅱ Crimson Butterfly”)
– Kei Amakura Outfit (from “FATAL FRAME Ⅲ The Tormented”)

This FATAL FRAME: Maiden of Black Water review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Koei Tecmo America.

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