An updated version of the 2008 survival horror game, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, will be hitting PCs and consoles tomorrow, for the first time outside of Japan. The game boasts its first-ever official English translation and a refined player experience. However, despite its cult following and the anticipation for 15 years from devotees, Fatal Frame’s clunky controls may disappoint its audience.
A Mysterious Thrill
Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was an art piece relegated to the Wii for most of its existence. The game was the fourth follow-up to the internationally popular Fatal Frame series, where kawaii girls destroy ghosts by photographing them. The game’s co-director, Goichi Suda, was a horror auteur in Japan, and the game was available in Japan only. Masque of the Lunar Eclipse places players in the story’s brooding and complex environment, making it a thrilling experience for the game’s audience.
The Game’s Atmosphere
The game’s atmosphere could be likened to an unsettling found footage film or spectral, black-and-white self-portraits. The game’s dark corners, illuminated by the flashlight, reveal journal fragments and poetic note fragments from the other girls. The game’s characters upgrade currency, which they can add to their inventory, with red and blue crystals. The game’s dour atmosphere is enhanced by the grainy texture that obscures the original graphics. The grain enhances the game’s vibe, making it look ready to crumble.
The game’s camera is less understanding and positioning the character to get a better angle is a challenge. The player can collect items but it is hard to pick them up, and the grabbing angle is not clear. It makes interacting with the environment feel unnatural, resulting in a jarring experience for the player.
The game’s battle system is not impressive, and the game’s controls make it difficult to fight the ghosts. The game’s protagonists are defenseless against the ghosts that surround them, which is frustrating for the player. While using the Camera Obscura shifts players to the first person, the game’s choppy camera and shuffling ghosts make it feel impossible to win.
The game’s cosmetic extras include a belly dancer-themed bikini that players can dress teenage protagonists in, which is weird and unnecessary. The game’s subtle approach to feminism is commendable, where femininity is a neutral facet of humanity and spirituality, rather than the reason for trauma, or product of it. The game addresses the emotional scars of the past, and the characters’ wear frilly dresses without being ridiculed. The game has the potential to deliver subtly feminist horror, but the bikini costume is a distraction from the game’s message.
The Final Verdict
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse has a cult following, and the game’s devotees have waited for 15 years for the official English version with a refined player experience. However, the game’s clunky controls detract from the experience, resulting in disappointing gameplay. The game’s atmosphere, where femininity is a neutral facet of humanity and spirituality, is commendable, but the bikini costume is a distraction from the game’s message. Overall, it is clear that the game has potential, but it does not deliver on the players’ expectations.