Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a third-person survival horror game that was first launched exclusively for the Nintendo Wii in Japan in 2008. Following 2021’s Maiden of Black Water remaster, Koei Tecmo has now remastered the fourth entry in the series, which sports updated graphics, better performance, and an intriguing story to tell.
Mask of the Lunar Eclipse takes place in the fictional Rogetsu Island, where five girls mysteriously disappeared but were later rescued. However, they admit to having no memories of the event, and since then, two of these girls have been found dead under mysterious circumstances. The other three, Misaki Asō, Madoka Tsukimori, and Ruka Minazuki, decide to head back to the island to discover what happened during their disappearance. They’re followed closely by the detective who originally rescued them, Choushiro Kirishima, and who returned to the island following the suspected culprit. Unfortunately, upon arriving, things quickly become worse when the group becomes trapped on the island and are haunted by vengeful spirits.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse’s story is quite a slow burner but one that reveals several twists and engaging details as the player progresses. Players will quickly be pushed into the thick of it right from the prologue by controlling several characters across multiple chapters starting with nothing but a flashlight. They will have to scour the island looking for clues through long discarded records, documents, audio logs, newspapers, and photos to discover what exactly happened years ago, all while solving the occasional puzzle to progress and being hunted by all manner of wraiths, ghosts, revenants, and more.
Luckily to combat these ghastly foes, players will have the series’ signature weapon, the Camera Obscura, a magical tool that can not only capture pictures of these ghosts but also stun and defeat them. In addition, the camera can be decked out with various upgrades, including improvements to overall power, reload speed, increased points gained from defeating ghosts, and more. Players can also pick up several lenses throughout the game, each serving a unique purpose and other upgrades that give players new moves, like the ability to evade ghosts at the right moment. As an RPG fan, I have to admit my favorite aspect of the game is the upgrade system and how it gives players the ability to make their camera as efficient as possible against several types of enemies.
Playing on a PS5, the game also allows players to use the controller’s motion controls similar to its original Wii counterpart. After playing several chapters with the feature enabled, I’m happy to report it works quite well and is even helpful for quick maneuverability. In addition, I didn’t run into any issues with lagging and unresponsiveness, which I was pleasantly surprised by.
However, while I am fond of many of the game’s elements, I also can’t ignore its many flaws. The first of which I noticed is that while players can control several characters, especially earlier on, there aren’t many reasons for this choice aside from narrative purposes, as most characters use the same camera as a weapon (save for one character who uses a special Spirit Flashlight), which I found to be a missed opportunity.
Aside from this, I also found the game to be drab and often tedious, especially in the earlier sections. For example, players will have to move through the halls of the same hospital for the first few chapters at an incredibly plodding pace as none of the characters moves faster than walking speed, even when “sprinting.” Cutscenes are also painfully slow, which, while great for the horror aesthetic, dramatically contributes to the slow pacing. However, the “Reach Out” system, which asks players to hold down the interact button to slowly reach for items instead of just picking them up, is the worst culprit of this. While I understand it’s meant to heighten the game’s tense nature, it mainly succeeds at unnecessarily dragging out levels, primarily as the game heavily relies on backtracking to find necessary items, solve puzzles, and progress.
Lastly, I also didn’t find the game all that frightening, mainly as it relies heavily on jumpscares, most of which are pretty predictable. Although I will admit that this is primarily a personal issue, I generally don’t find ghosts all that scary.
It’s not all bad, however, as while it has its fair share of faults, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar sports excellent upgraded visuals, detailed environments, character models, and a great, intense atmosphere reminiscent of indie Japanese horror films and movies like The Ring. The game also sports an incredible sound design that further escalates its unnerving nature. It’s also worth noting that the remaster adds a new photo mode feature, letting players take atmospheric pictures of the characters and the environments.
Overall, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar is a mixed bag. While it sports many frustrating features, the remaster does an excellent job supporting its great features that will satisfy both classic horror and long-time series fans.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse will launch on March 9 worldwide and will be available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse
- Rating - 5/105/10
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar is a remaster that does an excellent job supporting its great features but is severely held back by its several dated elements.
Abdul Saad is a seasoned anime and manga critic, art lover, and professional journalist. When he’s not covering the medium’s latest news, he’s giving his candid opinions on the season’s most unique titles or exploring the niche side of the industry. He has also played and reviewed more games than he could ever count.