And so horror month comes to an end at PopMatters. Originally I was going to this game last week and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream this week, but a podcast recording schedule had me switch those around. I’d heard Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly was one of the scariest games of all time and I was going to see if it lived up to its reputation.
Fatal Frame II had me hook pretty much from the word go. There were just so many little things in the first 10-15 minutes alone that had me reveling in the skill in which the game creates such a creepy vibe so quickly and efficiently. In fact, it’s a while before you are ever threatened, but it doesn’t feel like it.
In fact, there’s so much I’d have liked to include just due to their evocative nature in creating an atmosphere, but I had to cut them to stay focused and just head them all under “sound mixing” and “art direction” in my praises. But really the highlight of the game’s efficiency of unsettling and upending expectations are the doors and the camera. Once the stage is set and the tone in full force, basic things taken in different directions create their own sense of terror.
There’s only so much you can do to controls before it changes from being difficult or unsettling to frustration with the game itself. Fatal Frame II does it by being technically function, but behaviorally antithetical to protecting oneself. The game creates behaviors through the design of certain elements that end up doing the heavy lifting.
So please read what I had to say about the mechanics and their introduction of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly.