If there’s one country that has long since mastered the art of true, spine-chilling horror, then it’s Japan. With Fatal Frame (2001) and the infamous Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly (2003) to follow on from, Maiden of Blackwater has big shoes to fill. With that being said, judging by the trailer it looks as though this upcoming horror title has huge metaphorical feet – luckily.
Maiden of Blackwater – The Story
The story takes place on a sacred Japanese mountain, namely Mt. Hikami. The waters of this cursed mountain are thought to hold spirits as locals are taught that they are born from water, so must return to the water at the end of their lives. Consequently, the mountain is home to an abundance of the trapped souls of those going there to live the final moments of their lives.
Maiden of Blackwater, however, is the tale of three protagonists; each with their own agenda and motive for being there. Going by the previous Fatal Frame games, these stories will inevitably cross at some point in the game and, as a whole, we are in for a deeply intricate tale of Japanese superstitions, folklore, and their own brand horror.
Yuri Kozukata: Yuri is a young lady with the ability to see things that shouldn’t be seen, such as other people’s memories, events yet to happen and, of course, ghosts.
Her gift (or curse) has drawn her into an isolated, lonely life. Due to her inability to socialize, her social circles stretch to but one person, Hisoka Kurosawa. Yuri lives with Mr. Kurosawa, the only person that understands her. She helps out in his antiques shop and assists from time to time using her ‘spirit reading’ gift.
Ren Hojo: A writer of fiction that has found himself on the mountain in a bid to research his next novel. Specializing in post-mortem photography, he asks his long-time friend, Hisoka Kurowasa for advice and, in turn, receives an album featuring an abundance of post-mortem photography (lovely). While studying the pictures, he is drawn to the specter-ridden mountain, and thus begins his adventure.
Miu Hinasaki: Struggling with the disappearance of her mother when she was young, Miu has since been under the care of her foster parents. Her ability to see and speak to the dead has driven a wedge betwixt her and society and consequently lives the same secluded life as Yuri. After hearing a rumor that her mum was long ago seen heading to the malevolent mountain, she sets off in pursuit to find her long-lost relative.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater – Gameplay
As with the previous titles, the gameplay features close, claustrophobia-triggering passageways and confined spaces. While this adds to the deep feelings of dread that these games so elegantly instill, it is also set, yet again, to be the one major downfall of the third title in the franchise. The game is lain out to scare and to make you feel uncomfortable, but – sadly – coupled with the token clumsy controls, this approach makes for a magnitude of frustrations as you attempt, with futility, to acclimatize to the bizarre button-mapping.
With that being said, the Camera Obscura we saw in the previous games is ready and prosed to make up for the illogical controls. For those that aren’t yet familiar with the games, the Camera Obscura acts as your only ‘weapon’. Ghosts can only be seen through the lens of the camera and are fought by capturing them in photos on your magical device. In previous games, the inability to see what could be right in front of you adds to the feeling of blanketing dread and is a touch of genius from developers, Tecmo.
It is without a doubt that Maiden of Blackwater is to bring to the horror games genre a truly terrifying experience. This is definitely something that the gaming world has been crying out for, for quite some time now. While monsters, blood, and gore make for some entertaining gameplay – they simply aren’t all that scary to any veteran of the genre. Ghosts, on the other hand, offer up a unique fear which will only be bettered by the masters of the horror world.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater is set to release on the 28th of October on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, theSeries X/S and PC. Plenty of time to stock up on some more underwear; you’re going to need it.