I WILL admit that being a horror gaming fan it was great to see a classic horror franchise not released during the Halloween-October release window. Still, I was even more excited considering that Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was only ever released in Japan in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii console. Skip forward 15 years and we finally get out hands on the fourth instalment of the Project Zero series.
While the Project Zero series has had a hard time finding its home, it is now content with being a multi-platform title. With the first two titles being released on the Original Xbox and PS2. Then the third installment was a PS2 exclusive with the most recent Maiden of Black Water starting off as a WiiU exclusive and then releasing on multi-platforms.
It should also be known that in Japanese and USA territories the game is referred to Fatal Frame.
If you are familiar with the series, the prologue starts off in ordinary fashion. Friends return to a place of torment from their younger years and vanish after the initial tutorials for Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is completed.
The game involves a return to the Rogetsu Isle 10 years after five girls disappeared at the Rogetsu Kagura festival, which is held every 10 years to comfort the dead. The girls were eventually found but with memory loss of the whole thing.
Misaki and Madoka return after two of the five girls died after each other to the island in search of answers. After they then go missing the third and final surviving Ruka ignores her mother’s warning and returns to the island in search of her missing friends.
As part of the tutorial, you are introduced to the main weapon of the franchise, the Camera Obscura -there are no traditional weapons that you may be used to in a horror title such as guns and wooden planks.
The Camera Obscura has the ability to deal damage to ghosts as you take their photos and this is really what separates the Project Zero series from a lot of the other horror titles out in the wild.
With no traditional way of killing your enemies in Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, instead, you will need to capture the ghost’s essence with the camera. Later on in the game there is a new weapon introduced which is named ‘The Spirit Tourch’ which ultimately acts the same as the camera, even to the point of being able to add lenses to the torch and even allowing you to take photos.
Speaking of taking photos, get your trigger finger ready as you will need to be ready at a moment’s notice in this game. While the majority of the game will be spent slowly creeping through tight corridors there are in fact genuinely jump-scare moments where a spirit will pop up out of nowhere, not to harm you but to simply be there or assist you.
It is in these moments where you will need to be quick and get a snapshot of these spirits to assist with the points you accumulate. These can be spent on costumes, health items and other things I won’t spoil for you, but if you’re a completionist, you’ll want to get all these photos.
During your exploration of the creepy hotel, you find yourself searching for your lost friends. You will come across many hidden objects that will come in the form of notes which give a back story to all the bad things that have happened on this island as well as blue and red crystals. These will be used to upgrade your camera and lenses which will make ghosts much easier to take out in your time in Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse.
The game does a really good job of helping you locate hidden items while not just giving them away. A vile icon will show up on your screen if you are near something of importance and glow, indicating that you will need to look around. This was really helpful in the early stages of the game as finding clues and keys to open doors can be really hard to find at times.
Probably the last part of the gameplay in Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse would be the puzzles, some ranging from simple to hard. I found this to be the case due to the notes not having any really great filing system. So going back to find the notes that contained the hints could sometimes take some time to find.
The tight corridors of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse and no real music being played really add to the atmosphere of the game as all you can hear are your breath and footsteps. Because the building is so run down the creaking always makes you second guess what’s out there. Although I’m worried that the atmosphere in the game is really slow-paced, it might not be to the liking of a casual gamer. But if scary games are your thing, this is definitely for you.
Now while the encounters with ghosts that chose to attack you are really intense as you will be staring down the viewfinder of the camera this whole time and not really being aware of your surroundings, you can put the camera down and run.
Unfortunately, the running in this game is so slow that they wouldn’t know how to run to the last McDonald’s in the world if they were having a closing-down sale. I know this probably is intended to add to the slow-paced nature of the game and add to the tension. But if I was being chased by a ghost, I would be running a lot faster than in this game.
As you complete each phase, the game will slowly drip-feed you what happened all the years ago when the girls initially went missing and lost their memories.
For my final words for the review of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, I really enjoyed it. It knows not to outstay its welcome over the 13-14 hrs it will take you to complete, a bit longer if you’re looking for 100%.
They could have done a better job with the remaster aspect of the game as the characters all looked fine, but the textures of the walls in some areas were really bad and you could tell it was from a Wii game.
But with a creepy story to unfold and jump scares being plenty, this is a great game to turn the lights off to and plug in a good set of headphones and get lost in this often-forgotten horror series.