Alright, let me start this review off with a warning: I never played the Wii version because I never had one, so I can not put comparisons between the two, sorry about that. Anyways, Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclipse HD Remake AKA Project Zero is the updated version of the Wii release, and this remake comes with a mixed bag of updated graphics and retained graphics, which we will go over later. The gameplay takes a bit of time to get used to, but at least we don’t have tank controls.
First off, let us start with the in-game graphics. As I said earlier, it’s a mixed bag of updated and retained, having checked the Wii version’s gameplay for a quick peek, and the character graphics have been updated really well, while some parts of the area, backgrounds, and objects in the surroundings still retain their graphics from the older version, some showing pixels kind of blatantly sticking out in a few areas. They still need some work being updated, but it is all good in the scheme of things and kind of gives the game’s dark atmosphere something that makes it feel pretty off, especially with the ghosts around.
However, the dark areas of the game? It’s done Justice. Dark areas are still dark, and especially atmospheric in the later parts of the game such as the old Yomotsuki house and in the caves running underneath the Haibara Infirmary and the Rogetsu Manor. And the movies in-game, especially the one concerning the Rogetsu Island Ceremony which kicked off the calamity? Really enjoyable as it had this grainy old film feel, marking it as one of the bigger pros of this game, at least for me. The hunt for the Rogetsu Dolls adds a good Easter egg hunt as there’s one around every corner or box or a bit past the window, not to mention there are others in branches or corners in rooms.
The gameplay made me feel a bit conflicted as well, but it still plays really well. The controls are responsive and while the combat system takes a bit of getting used to, it’ll probably take you just at least the Prologue to get it down for the most part as the more technical aspects such as the Fatal Frame, where you take a photo of the ghost as it attacks and you can link it up to 3 hits when your camera is fully upgraded and is running well. The combat system is fun and technical as well.
Collecting items in-game is something you’d have to take great care of, seeing as sometimes there would be a white arm that will grab and shake you, making you lose the item you just found, and if it is a precious item such as Blue or Red Spirit Stones, you’ll be lagging a bit behind on upgrading the Camera Obscura or the Spirit Stone Flashlight, making enemy encounters a bit harder. And finding those Spirit Stones is imperative to ensure your survival against the specters that you encounter.
Lenses are still out there in areas where you have to do quite a bit of exploration to find all of them or buy them in the Extras shop, making points-earning quite a requirement, but the combat takes care of that as scoring Zero Shots, Rorschach Shots and Fatal Frames give large bonuses to your point gains in a high risk-high reward gamble, giving learning enemy patterns a great shine as you play through, especially once you get into mixing and matching lenses and films, providing you with good fun clinging to you as bad as a cursed ghost, or challenge yourself in the Funnular Entertainment way and use no lenses and just the regular film, relying on just upgrades for both the Camera Obscura or the Spirit Stone Flashlight.
The music is atmospheric, and really draws you in on the situations you are in, be it exploring the ruins in Rogetsu Isle, the abandoned and haunted hospital, or the winding caverns underneath where the Rogetsu Ritual was held, it all holds up well. It’s best savored by wearing a pair of headphones and really brings you in.
The story is great and had me glued in on all cutscenes, from start to finish. You play as different characters, allowing you to see the story from multiple points of view like in the Dracula novel, and where they all intersect is a great example of storytelling, especially once you collect the entire sets of files and notes obtainable in-game, painting the story in a dark canvas as twisting as the carvings of the full moon which you encounter quite a bit in the later chapters.
Backstories are provided by the various sets of notes, letters, and files that you find and collect in-game as well as Choshiro’s notebook, giving players who really dive into the lore something to enjoy for hours as you delve into the story and mysteries that the ritual, if not the entirety of Rogetsu Isle, offers.
To sum it all up, Fatal Frame/Project Zero The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a wonderful game to enjoy, be it your first time or every successive run as you go for full completion. The gameplay is great, the atmosphere really draws you in and leaves a great mark on you, and the visuals on the areas are well done, all wrapped up in one great package. In the immortal words of Joe Bob Briggs, “Four stars, check it out!”.