Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering Project Zero Mask Of The Lunar Eclipse by developer Koei Tecmo.
Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse: (The Explanation)
Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse also known as Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, is a third-person horror adventure game by Koei Tecmo. It is the fourth entry in the series and has been rereleased for Nintendo Switch (as well as for other platforms). It is also the first time for the title to be released in the West as the 2008 original only released on the Nintendo Wii in Japan.
Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse follows three teenage girls who were the survivors of some rather strange goings on at the Rogetsu Kagura festival a decade ago. The festival is held once every ten years and was meant to comfort the dead. However, the girls and two of their friends disappeared during the festival and while they were eventually rescued by detective Choshiro, they had no recollection of what happened.
Now as young adults, two of the friends have died mysteriously and were found in a crying pose with their faces covered. Misaki, Ruka, and Detective Choshiro each return to Rogetsu Isle, where it all started, to learn about what happened to their friends, the reason for the girl’s amnesia and why this any of this is happening at all and how they can put a stop to it.
If you have played a Project Zero/Fatal Frame game before, you will already have a general idea of how the gameplay is. For those of you who don’t, Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a third-person horror game that has the protagonist exorcise ghosts by using the Camera Obscura. This is no ordinary camera as it has strong spiritual connections that allows it to hurt ghosts and send them back to the afterlife. Each photograph that you take will inflict damage on the ghosts but if you take a picture at just the right moment (just before it grabs you) you will be able to snap a Fatal Frame that can do even more damage and allow you to get in multiple shots in a short time frame to really lay on the hurt.
For the most part, players must guide the protagonists through the different locales of the game whilst completing objectives. The objectives will change as you progress and may require you to follow someone, only to find that the door has locked behind them and you now have to search for a key hidden somewhere else. You will be given clues and prompts that will hint about where you have to go next so be sure to keep a sharp eye or you may miss them.
The Camera Obscura, as well as the flashlight can be upgraded by using spirit stones that you will find in-game. These upgrades can make your camera do more damage, and take less time to load, for example, which will be essential in exorcising the more violent and powerful spirits. Speaking of which, when you exorcise ghosts with your camera, you will earn points that you can use to exchange for items like consumable items like herbs or better camera film, or even costumes for your characters.
As for the visual style of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, even though the models and environments have been remastered, the actual feel of the game has a lot of intentional ‘noise’ that makes the game look dark, grainy, and evil (I feel like I have heard that somewhere before). It was a little off-putting to start with but it is actually starting to grow on me, though I do wish there was the option of turning it off as other players may not enjoy that aesthetic at all. The curious thing is that in the game’s photo mode, you can actually turn the noise off so you can take clearer photographs. It is a little strange that there isn’t an option to toggle it on or off in the main settings when there are many other parameters that can be altered.
If you enjoyed Maiden of Black Water, then there is every chance you will also enjoy Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. The game is full of bone chilling lore and scares that it will most certainly be a treat for supernatural horror lovers. Rogetsu Isle is waiting for you but do you have the courage to discover its deep, dark secret?
Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse: (The Gameplay)
Developer: KOEI TECMO
Publisher: KOEI TECMO
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: March 9, 2023 (EU & NA)
File Size: 6.7 GB