Notyalcsdrawkcab’s Weblog

September 14, 2008

Fatal Frame 4 – Mask of the Lunar Eclipse * POST MORTEM

Filed under: Videogames — notyalcsdrawkcab @ 11:24 am

SPOILER ALERT!  This is not a review.  It is a post mortem – a collection of thoughts more intended for myself, and for anyone who has finished the game.

Its creepy.  Genuinely creepy.  Tingly creepy.  It also boasts excellent, atmospheric art.  impressive graphics, at least for the wii.  (i like to distinguish between art and graphics – graphics is pushing polygons and cloth that moves, art is creating beautiful/interesting environment, characters/npcs, knowing which colour palet to use).  utilises the wiimote well, and starts with an interesting storyline. 

but … i don`t think they knew HOW to finish the story.  great start to the story that wasn`t brought to a proper conclusion.  there was some great story arcs introduced in the first half of the story … that just disappear later on.  ummm, and there is way too much reading material in this game.  it is fine for a story focused game to lead you through the game, but it shouldn`t be too obvious to the player.  at times, i noticed how much i was being lead through the game … not good.

also, i don`t think the makers really understood what was GOOD about their game.  encountering ghosts is creepy; the battle system is sufficient, but longer ghost battles felt mechanical.  a handful of ghost encounters were chilling.  did the designers understand which situations genuinely hit the spot, and which were fillers?  health points, long ghost “battles”, replenish health items, ghosts with pitchforks … these are all things that could have been left out imho.  i think recent games such as phoenix wright, hotel dusk, professor layton and elektroplankton have shown that gaming conventions can be ignored when appropriate.  i think the designers should have aimed for an interactive movie/novel kind of experience and ditched some of the above gaming conventions.  the finish is out of sync with the rest of the game.  it has a totally different feel; as the credits roll, an average j-pop song plays.  it doesn`t fit with the atmosphere created by the rest of the games music, nor its pacing.   

the story … should i attempt to talk about this?  my girlfriend helped me through this game.  reading all the written material.  explaining as we went along.  i understood what i could.  ummm, in the first half of the game, there is a creepy little girl who has a special room.  you have to go to her room several times, and she looks like an important character … but she disappears from the second half of the game.  also, of the 4 protagonists, only two have complete story arcs … the other 2, kinda just disappear.  the atmosphere was amazing.  a dark history.  secret players behind the scenes.  a hospital that was built to help people with mental problems (well, they are cursed, going crazy) actually being used to create the curse?  4 protaganists with unexplained pasts, and unknown flaws …

arrrgh!  what a wasted opportunity!!!

but in total – i enjoyed the game.  it was creepy.  i got my money`s worth.  with a very different experience (i never played the other fatal frame games).   but i couldn`t shake the feeling that the game could have been more complete.  a good game could have been a great game.  ummm, and i really hope that someone tries to better it.

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