In April, it became clear that the beloved but beleaguered J-horror Fatal Frame would be making a big comeback, shambling back into your living room like some splinter-jointed specter. Tecmo Koei and Nintendo are planning a Wii U title, and a book, movie, and comic to accompany it. The Wii U’s Gamepad will be used as your real-life analogue to the series’ Camera Obscura (referred to now as the “shaeiki,” or “projection machine”) the exorcisin’ accessory that all Fatal Frame protagonists happen to come across in dusty abandoned mansions.
It looks gorgeous, all cold blues and warm amber tones, and the focus on water aligns it with quintessential horror master Hideo Nakata, whose Ring (1999) and Dark Water (2002) are both aesthetically sodden and turn on drowning as a narrative motif. Fatal Frame is traditionally patient, letting the player languish in long, eerily silent periods of exploration before startling her—often just with a passing shadow.
It’s a common trick among directors like Nakata and, notably, his contemporary Kiyoshi Kurosawa to soundtrack tense scenes with near-silence, as if all the air has been sucked out of the room, leaving only an image of the uncanny.
Speaking of uncanny, it’s called Fatal Frame: The Raven Haired Shrine Maiden! Which is a pretty “greatest hits” title for a Fatal Frame, game, really. That’s like Halo: The Man in the Bulky Green Armor. Granted, it’s an approximate translation of the Japanese title Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko. Something less clumsy might accompany an English release.
If that happens, of course. The game is coming September 27th in Japan, but there’s no mention of localization. The series’ fourth entry, Grasshopper Manufacture’s Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, was Japan-only, and the recent Wii remake of Fatal Frame II only made it as far as Europe: hopefully this one creeps its way worldwide.