Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water

Fatal Frame is a series of Japanese survival horror games where you fight ghosts with a camera. It’s a special camera, but the action is the same. You snap pictures of ghosts. Maiden of the Black Water isn’t a new game; it was first released on the Wii U. It’s recently been re-released for modern consoles. I chose to play it on the Nintendo Switch.

The game is survival horror excellence, though it’s a bit easy. On “normal” difficulty, I never saw a game over screen from combat. If it weren’t for one particular escape sequence, I would’ve never seen the game over screen at all. Despite this, the game maintained suspense throughout by the nature of fighting ghosts. They can travel through walls. They can appear out of nowhere. Ghosts aren’t bound by even video game rules.

While most ghosts could be beat just by snapping pictures over and over, the process of fighting ghosts offers a lot more than just pictures. The timing of your shot, the contents of the picture, what lens you use, all impact the ghost busting. When you time a shot just right and get to blast a group of ghosts with your camera with a shot combo, it feels awesome.

I had a ton of fun being spooked by ghosts and blasting ghosts with my camera. I don’t think I fully grasped the folklore of the plot, but that’s okay. This game is awesome and it’s motivating me to go back and play the earlier titles.

It’s going to be hard to do that, though, because I’ve been playing my Switch a lot lately and it’s exposing one of the factors the lowers my interest in playing some games. I only own the older Fatal Frame games in digital form on Playstation 3. When I want to play them, I have to boot up my PS3, navigate to the game, load the game, navigate the menus to load my save game, and then I can play. It’s a few minutes from “I want to play game” to “I am playing game”.

What I’ve gotten used to is the instant suspend/resume features of the Nintendo Switch. Once I’ve gotten into the game once, if I want to stop playing, I simply put the console to sleep. When I want to resume playing, I turn it on and I’m instantly back where I left off. It’s the same whether I want to play for an hour or just a few minutes between meetings. If I have to go away for a bit to deal with IRL things, I suspend the game and go do it.

I don’t have to turn off my PS3. I suppose I could pause the game and simply turn my TV off. That seems fairly wasteful though, and now I realize why PS5/XSX focused so hard on instant resume. Pick up and play on the Switch, whether docked or portable, is pretty awesome.