Fatal Frame has always had a tough time in the west. Despite a unique gameplay concept it’s never become as ubiquitous as games like Resident Evil. Despite that it’s amassed a cult following, and despite a rocky past few games, somehow made it to the onto the Wii U thanks to the help of digital distribution. But was it worth Nintendo bringing it over, or did the Maiden of Black Water fail to capture the Fatal Frame spirit?

  • Combating spirits with the novelty of gyroscope sensors in the Wii U Gamepad straddles the line of tedium as the game progresses. You’ll end up “fighting” a lot of that same kinds of enemies and it loses it’s impact. On top of that swerving around in small spaces to get a good view of spirits can be unwieldy. Luckily you can turn off motion controls for a more traditional gaming experience.
  • Gameplay wise it doesn’t break any molds. There’s some exploration, but you’ll find yourself mostly funneled through creepy corridors which was a bit disappointing. It wants to rely on atmosphere and world building to put the player in suspense but I never felt like I was allowed to linger and learn more about the terrible events that took place in every corner. The game never shied away from a cheap jump-scare opportunity though.
  • Running feels slow and turning around is clunky.
  • The story is dark and dingy, and the atmosphere does a lot to underscore that feeling. Though the graphics are lackluster, they don’t take away from that. The game does a lot to feed you enough information about a place to make it that bit more unsettling.
  • The story is disturbing but complicated. You’ll find yourself working between three characters in different periods of time. Despite that it never felt totally convoluted. You’re playing a horror game about a ghost hunter with a magic camera... is the story really going to break the experience?

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water’s flaws never let the game shine. Even if the story works, it never felt like it captivated me emotionally. Despite refining their formula over a series of games, Koei Tecmo didn’t make this one stand out. It’s a decent game, but it doesn’t feel like the quintessential Fatal Frame fans want, even with the novel use of the gamepad.


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