“ Genre: Action / 1 player / published by: Tecmo Inc. „
Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly: Directors Cut (Origins)
A couple of years after playing the first of Tecmo's Fatal Frame series, I wandered into my local game store and found this grinning at me on the shelf. I had got fairly far into the first game, but seeing as I was still getting used to the original Xbox console, I was far busier playing the likes of Halo with friends and KOTOR alone.. Plus I was probably stuck on one of the games tough enemies or trivial minigames.. Anyway, this time around, 2 restored my interest enough to pay more attention and get an eyeful of one of the scariest games on the system. When gamers think of titles in the horror genre (for xbox & ps2), the top results are usually Resident Evil & Silent Hill. Although, unlike both of those games, there is significantly less physical gore. PZ2 plays on the nerves, making you question your eyesight, hearing and bravery as you attempt to tackle a fantastically creepy story. The first game's plot revolved around a young woman searching for her brother who had set out to explore an old mansion, encountering ghosts and monstrosities along the way. 2 sticks with the lost sibling idea, however this time, is far more menacing.
"Didn't we always promise each other... that we would always be together forever" (Plot)
The very first introductory video stars two young twin girls, Mio & Mayu taking a break in a secluded forest near a pleasant little stream. The pair reminisce about their location, (soon to be destroyed by the building of a dam) revealing that Mayu had an accident that left her leg weak due to the negligence of Mio. Suddenly, in the middle of a question, Mayu strolls off... drawn out deeper into the forest by a crimson butterfly... well actually is more lava orangey than crimson... Anyway Mio easily catches up to her limping sister, seeing troubling images as she approches ever closer. Together again, day turns to night and a black and white filter engulfs the screen. Now lost, the two girls edge their way towards a once lost village, blanketed in endless night. Things grow increasingly worrying as both girls witness spirits wandering around and find mysterious documents lying about one of the houses... along with the fabled 'Camera Obscura' - a device used to see and capture spirits on a different plane. Just in time too, as unsettling noises arise from the next room! After combatting and escaping several ghosts, Mio & Mayu find several diaries, newspaper clippings and tomes all divulging on one thing - 'The Crimson Sacrifice' Ritual. This is where the game gets seriously grim. Every so often, this ritual must be performed in the village to 'appease the Hellish Abyss'. To do so, twins must partake in a cruel ceremony, to keep the location safe from this 'Abyss' - by having one twin kill the other. The last attempt was a failure, as one twin simply ran away, abandoning her sister, who would suffer the same fate regardless. It appears that the previous sacrifice was insufficient and so the ghosts of the past, including Sae, the sacrificed twin, spilled out into the village and went on a murderous rampage. With Mayu showing signs of possession, you (Mio) must follow her exploits whilst attempting an escape.
Cameras, Herbal Medicine, Spirit Orbs & Miniskirts (Gameplay)
One thing that the PZ series has made trademark is the idea of having the main protagonists as young, naive girls. So instead of traversing the horror as a bulky bloke with a machine gun or 2x4, you float about like a little powder puff, raising your arms as you daintily jog away from moaning bloodthirsty demons. This lack of self preservation and pace makes every escape a close call, every fight even more one-sided. The games viewpoint is normally stable, with a clear shot of an area which you can navigate in 3rd person. This is one of the many reasons why playing can be a nail-biting affair because you often turn corners blind, unknowing to what lurks beyond. Thanks to this view style, the surrounds are of far greater detail as they aren't really intractable (so they have been illustrated, painted and look far better than anything computer generated - in 2003). To battle the ghosts, the game switches to first person mode as you ogle your opponents through the camera lens. Again, with this switch of view comes more suspense as now, ghosts can circle around behind you, pop in and out of walls and doorways, grabbing you by the ghoullies. To damage the spirits, you simply take photos - the better the photo, the more damage dealt, along with stronger film, spirit power and lenses. The majority of the game is endlessly searching dark rooms and creaking buildings for, Mayu, Safety and Answers. There is a bit of reading to do - albeit interesting & insightful, puzzles which require patience and more hunting down items - and of course ghost fights getting tougher with each reel. You can come across a couple of different items such as medicine for healing and new equipment (camera abilities to slow, stun and knock back spirits), but the majority of useful goods are orbs to power up the camera, which are essential to spend points gained from photos - which by the way are viewable in an album, which is nice.. or a traumatic memory.
Lightning Bolts & A Bloody Kimono (Ghosts & Environments)
Like the characters, ghosts and story, the locations are equally frightening. You're neither safe in or outdoors as there are likely to be creatures waiting for both. Outside there are chilling ideas used in many stories such as a well, which is heavily strapped down and closed, a misty graveyard, fogged bridges and underground passages. Indoors you've got dimly lit rooms adorned with traditional Japanese luxuries and clothing plus the odd blood spatter. Lightning often cracks into life when you pass by windows, lighting up rooms and its contents. The sounds are yet another positive (besides the voice acting which is rather generic) not always having a clear melody in the background, its usually whirling wind and cool air, but when things get serious you'll hear a heartbeat and the cries of anguish from the trapped souls. The silence makes it far more tense as you're expecting things to leap out and get you for long periods and as you settle down, contorted ghosts head your way and get the heart racing again. There are 25 different attacking ghosts you can come across, but unfortunately several look similar and are a bit uninspiring. Consequently, it is the ghosts who look most human that are the scariest, often with disfiguring scars and broken limbs - not that they are distracting them from tearing you apart. The ghosts 'Yae' & 'Sunken Woman' are some real terrors, one a little girl covered in blood, cackling away atop grotesque strewn corpses, the other bubbles up and floats innocently on the surface of a lake you must cross, inevitably getting closer and revealing her lifeless face upon attack.
The Lingering Scent (End)
This Xbox version features 4 endings, which is one more compared to the PS2 version, although not one I particularly care for. The 4 conclusions all vary in mood and offer real choices that people would consider. These endings can make for better longevity, but I think for most, 1 play through is enough as others must be done on harder difficulties, and its stressful enough on normal as save points are scarce. Its definitely a fright fest, but if you have no time for the spiritual side of horror than you could breeze through the game only picking up a couple of scares from the jumpy moments. Get engrossed in the story though and the game works its magic. If you had to kill your twin whilst being eyeballed by a village of evil ghosts, would you? or would you do what I'd do, LEG IT!
I may be a girl but I'm not a wuss. I love creepy games, I love creepy films and it takes a LOT to scare me out. But Project Zero 2 is a masterpiece and I usually play it in short bursts because I just get too creeped out by it.
The game follows twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura as they visit a woodland area from their childhood. Mayu walks with a pronounced limp after an accident for which Mio feels responsible when they were children. As Mio reflects on her actions and the effect it had on her sister Mayu is drawn into the forest by a crimson butterfly. Mio chases her sister deeper into the forest until they get considerably lost and end up in the Lost Village.
The Lost Village like the name suggests is a village that dissapeared some time ago after an undisclosed event. All you know is that all of the villagers dissapeared, the village itself was overcome by a darkness and sometimes nearby you can hear the village bells ringing and the maniacal laughter of a crazed, young woman.
The butterflies lead Mayu deeper into the village and Mio follows her, but must contend with the ghosts of the villagers that stand between them. Along the way she discovers that the village performed a ritual involving twins to prevent the hellish dimension beneath them overflowing and consuming them. But one year the twins tried to run and the ritual went wrong. Now the villagers think that the twins have returned to fulfil their duty and save the village.
=Gameplay & Combat=
The game is a third person perspective where you control Mayu and direct her through the village. The game strikes a balance between combat and puzzle solving with most of the action sending you to find various keys kept by ghosts to progress.
Unlike many survival horrors Project Zero is lacking in the comfort of melee weapons and big guns to lay waste to your enemies. Instead you play with a camera and you have to snap the ghosts until they decide to leave you alone. Throughout the game you can add attributes to your camera as well as special abilities and quite helpfully, if you complete the game you can start again with your pimped camera from where you left off.
The game follows a rather helpful formula, if ghosts appear, talk to you and then vanish you're on the right track. (Of course you have to not run away and actually listen to what they're saying). If you keep running into hostile ghosts bent on killing you then you are probably heading in the wrong direction. There is also a rather helpful young man, seemingly oblivious to the hell that has broken out around you who gives you helpful hints and will outright tell you where you need to be going. This is quite helpful in such a realistic village where many of the houses look the same.
=Graphics and Soundtrack=
The graphics are fantastic and so very realistic. There is remarkable attention to detail in this game, if you run through a cloth curtain it will brush against you and continue to move until it comes to a natural stop. The village is very realistic with each of the houses representing a different family and their interests. The ghosts appear and dissapear seamlessly throughout the locations so much so that sometimes you don't notice them even there.
The soundtrack contributes considerably to the atmosphere of the game. There is less music and more sound, but very much in the background. What this does is give an added dimension to the build up, you may not even notice the soundtrack but if something happens in the game you are suddenly very aware that the music has stopped giving an impression of absolute silence.
The reason this game is so atmospheric and just plain creepy is solely down to the ghosts. It never ceases to impress me that each ghost is an individual with its own back story and trauma to tell. The inclusion of the Spirit Radio allows you to listen to certain ghosts as they lament their situation. Not all of the ghosts are hostile and that is why this game is so creepy. Some ghosts will just appear before you and make you jump a mile while others will just glide past you continuing with their routine from life. Those are the ghosts that scare me the most. You can walk into a room and not find anything unusual until you notice that there has been a ghost standing in the corner watching you the whole time, or you'll just glimpse some legs walking from behind a cloth or a hand hanging from a window. These sudden realisations create an incredible atmosphere and more often than not drive me to take a break until I'm ready to get freaked out again.
This game is fantastic. Anything that can scare you this much is well worth a play! There is so much extra content to gain on a second or third playthrough (if you can stomach it) as well as a selection of three endings to enjoy. Any game that can make the 'Runaway' ending even more creepy than if you had stayed to face the ghosts deserves a medal!
I have started my adventure with horror games long time ago where Resident Evil and its scanned eye of a true dead body made a real impact on that particular type of games. In all those years I have been positively shocked couple of times with Silent Hill games, RE series and of course Fatal Frame.
I didnt know that game. I didnt play the first part, but started from the second. And got stunned.
You start as Miko one of two twin sisters lost in a forest in Japan. Last time you've seen your sister heading to the forsaken village. During a strange ritual whole village's population just vanished. As you arrive there you find a strange looking all camera and see your sister coming inside a small hut.
I dont want to spoil you the pleasure of finding out what's happening with the village but I have to tell you one thing. Ghosts! There are many ghosts of dead villagers - mob of dead people which hunts you with rakes and torches, drowned woman in the lake, small children sacrificed in ritual, woman who keeps falling down from the floor and crawling with her neck broken just to get you. Each of the ghost has a different story, whispers, cries - its amazing. Some of them want to kill you, some are more helpful with showing you the way out or some item that you need.
Fighting - basically the only item is the camera - no weapons. Our heroin cant fight, she's small, scared teenager. Fortunately so called Camera Obscura lets you take a photos of attacking ghosts which actually cause them damage. The closer the ghost when doing the picture, the more damage you will do. The title Fatal Frame is the most powerful shot when a ghost face is just exactly in the lens circle just in front of you.
The graphics is amazing. Everything looks so real, background of the village, inside the houses, lightwork from lantern is astonishing. Music is also very atmospherical-slow with occasional stops when something weird happens.
The atmosphere is great. You feel like a small girl in a camera in your hand alone in a forsaken village. Ghosts can be everywhere as they appear out of nowhere, through the walls, inside the boxes, wardrobes, outside of the windows, inside the doors, wells everywhere.
Occassionally you can find some puzzles to solve and as you getting more involved you can find scraps of newspapers, books, folklorist's notes which will tell you more about the village and its dark history and build more tension.
This is one of the best horror games I've ever played. Worth every money, long enough to chain you to the chair for long hours. If you have enough of killing monstrous creatures with an axe and shotgun but still missing fear and tension Fatal Frame is definetely a good choice.
Terror returns with Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly, the sequel to the highly popular survival horror title, Fatal Frame. This time the terrifying journey takes you to a whole new creepy setting, an abandoned village, where you play the role of Mio Amakura, a young girl who is gifted with a strong sixth sense and her twin sister Mayu, who notices a crimson butterfly faintly glowing in the sky. The Xbox version of this quirky survival horror title boasts a number of gameplay modes not present in the PS2 original.