In spite of how many fans Koei Tecmo’s horror series Fatal Frame has, it has always been a bit of a niche franchise. Its last mainline entry, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, launched exclusively for the Wii U back in 2014- and the series’ inherently niche nature combined with the extremely limited player base of the Wii U meant that the game was always fighting an uphill battle when it came to mainstream penetration and sales. Seven years on from its original release though, it’s being given a new lease of life, with Koei Tecmo bringing the game to modern consoles, and for the first time for a Fatal Frame game in a while, to non-Nintendo platforms as well. And as we count the days down to its imminent launch, here, we’re going to talk about a few key details you should know about the game itself, followed by the big talking points of what to expect from its upcoming remaster.
Fatal Frame as a series has always been very heavily focused on pure supernatural horror, rather than the sci-fi horror of more popular franchises like Resident Evil, and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water very much sticks to that template. The game is set on the fictional Hikami Mountain, a place that has a long and notorious history of cases of suicides and supernatural occurrences, stemming largely from maidens that would be sacrificed to keep a malevolent power known as the Black Water at bay using their own mystical abilities. When one maiden in particular failed in her duties in the past though, the Black Water was let loose, and the mountain and its spirits were corrupted by the evil being.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water tells its story from the perspective of three primary protagonists. There’s Miu Hinasaki, the daughter of Miku Hinasaki, a character that fans of the series will be quite familiar with. There’s Yuri Kozukata, a descendant of the mountain maidens who can use her abilities to bring people stuck in the shadow world back into the real world. Last but not least, there’s Ren Hojo, Yuri’s friend and an author, who heads to the mountain for research purposes for his writing, but finds himself entangled in a nightmare that he could not have predicted. Various maidens of the past also play a crucial role in the story.
The Camera Obscura is a mainstay of the Fatal Frame series, and perhaps the one thing that Koei Tecmo’s horror games are most commonly associated with. But for those you’re not too familiar with Fatal Frame and what it’s all about, what exactly is the Camera Obscura? Well, it’s literally your lens into the game’s world and the horrors it hides. It serves as your primary means for both defense and attack against the malevolent spirits that you cross paths with. Once you whip out the camera during combat, the game switches to a first person perspective, and depending on factors such as the distance and angles of the shots that you take with it, you will deal varying amounts of damage to the ghosts you’re fighting against.
As far as playable content is concerned, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water’s upcoming remaster is going to be largely similar to the original Wii U release, with everything from the post-game Ayane content to, of course, the base game itself being brought over as is. Some other areas of the game area being tweaked though. For starters, as you’d expect from any remaster, there will be visual improvements. Curiously, Koei Tecmo hasn’t provided any concrete details on exactly how visuals will be improved other than promising sharper resolutions, but hopefully, they’ll take the opportunity to make some notable changes, especially seeing as there’s plenty of room for graphical improvement for any game that launched for the Wii U several years ago.
Photo modes have become something of an industry-wide standard in recent years, and though by no means a necessity or something that actively affects a game’s core gameplay experience, they’re always a nice added bonus. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water’s remaster is going to feature a new photo mode as well- which only makes sense when you consider how central taking photos is to the core gameplay loop here. Players will be able to freely move and place characters and ghosts, apply filters and frames, and mess around with other options, such as depth of field, focal length, and aperture.
NEW COSTUMES AND ACCESSORIES
The selection of costumes available in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is going to be “slightly altered”, as Koei Tecmo puts it. For starters, the Zelda and Zero Suit Samus costumes that were originally included in the game on the Wii U are not coming back, seeing as the remaster, unlike the original, won’t be published by Nintendo, and will be a multiplatform release. Meanwhile, some new costumes are also being added, with Miu and Yuri having four costumes available, with Ren getting only one. New accessories are also being added in, with both Niu and Yuri getting four new cosmetic options each. Poor Ren gets left out once again.
When Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water launches, where PlayStation and Xbox are concerned, it will receive native versions on both active generations of both platforms. Thankfully, unlike several other cross-gen releases these days, Fatal Frame will not demand additional money if you want to upgrade from the PS4 or Xbox One to the game’s PS5 or Xbox Series X/S version, with Koei Tecmo confirming that free next-gen upgrades will be offered to everyone who gets the game on last-gen hardware.
As a seven year old Wii U game, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water’s PC requirements aren’t exactly demanding. On minimum settings (which will run the game at 720p and 60 FPS), you’ll require 4 GB of RAM, at least an Intel Core i5 750, and either a GeForce GTX 660 or a Radeon RX 550. Meanwhile, on recommended settings (which will run the game at 1080p and 60 FPS), you’ll need 8 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 2600, and either a GeForce GTX 960 or a Radeon RX 570. Meanwhile, on both settings, you’ll require 25 GB of storage space.
The future of Fatal Frame as a series has looked murky for a while, and the less-than-stellar sales and lukewarm critical reception that Maiden of Black Water saw when it released for the Wii U is surely responsible for that to a great extent. But if the upcoming remaster should do well, it might pave the way for more new games in the series. Speaking in an interview with Famitsu, when asked about the possibility of sequels if Maiden of Black Water does well, series producer Keisuke Kikuchi said: “That’s what I’m hoping. We’re releasing this game to commemorate the series’ 20th anniversary, and we’re hoping a lot of fans will take take the opportunity to play the game. We’d love this to lead to a new title.” Here’s hoping that does happen then, because you can never have too many good horror games- and when Fatal Frame is at its best, it’s really good.