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Parents' Guide to

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2021)

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Dark survival horror game depicts ritual sacrifice, suicide.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (2021) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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This one's for fanatics of the franchisse and few others. When Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water came to Wii U in 2015, it didn't exactly win awards. It was spooky in places, but clunky controls, linear design, and a lack of fresh ideas within a genre and series that were both aging kept it from making much of a stir. This remaster is pretty much a straight port of that game to modern systems, and doesn't do anything to fix these problems. The controls -- a mix of gyroscopic motion for framing photos and joystick control for movement -- are still very awkward, and players are still more or less stuck following ghosts as they lead to some clue, vision, or scene of horror, running through the same locations again and again. Worse, this was never a particularly pretty game (the Wii U was an underpowered console), and moving it to much more powerful systems on which players are used to seeing gorgeous graphics only amplifies its visual shortcomings. The character models have been reworked just enough to not feel jarringly out old (though faces still show about as much emotion as a block of cheese), but the environments are muddy and blurry -- often to the point of not being able to immediately make out what you're looking at.

The most compelling parts of the experience are generally those that involve no user interaction at all. Maiden of Black Water's cut scenes suffer some pacing issues, occasionally drawing out moments of anticipated fright so long that the effect is lost, but they still manage to deliver some disturbing moments of shock and terror -- the sort of stuff that fans of survival horror games eat up. Just be warned that it can get pretty dark at times, with characters killed or taking their own lives in ghastly ways. It's hard to recommend a game based on its non-interactive story sequences alone, so unless you're a die-hard Fatal Frame fan who didn't get the chance to play the Wii U original, you can probably take a pass on this remaster. The 2021 version of Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water has no shortage of contemporary competition that manages to deliver both plenty of scares and fun mechanics.

Game Details

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