Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly Reader Review
Why the hell weren’t Konami taking notes? THIS is how you do ghosts in a videogame!
Right off the bat, I want to point out that I absolutely love this game. I can honestly say that this is the best survival horror game I have ever played, and I’ve played just about all of them (Well, in the current generation of consoles at any rate).
Playing the game in the usual ‘Resident Evil’ inspired manner, you control teenage girl Mio, who is accompanied everywhere by twin sister Mayu, as they investigate something strange in the neighbourhood of a deserted village populated by all manner of ghouls and ghosts determined to put the heebie jeebies up any unfortunate they come across. The plot of the game revolves around some mysterious ritual that killed everyone in the village years before and a vengeful ghost who has seemingly possessed Mayu. To say any more would perhaps give too much away, but suffice to say the story is fantastically creepy stuff.
Like the previous game in the series, Project Zero II’s main gimmick is its camera based gameplay, where you can switch to a first person perspective at any time in order to take snapshots of attacking ghosts at the right moment to exorcise them. You can upgrade your camera’s abilities using the points you get photographing the spooks and utilise all manner of special attacks and film types in order to survive the ghostly onslaught. The controls are really simple and will be second nature before you’ve cleared the first chapter of the game.
The best thing about this game though, without a doubt, can be summed up in one word: Atmosphere. The feeling of fear and anticipation you get while playing it is stronger than you’ll get from watching any horror film. The style of the game is reminiscent of classic Japanese horror films like ‘Ring’, ‘Dark Water’ and ‘The Grudge’ and recreates the feel of those movies perfectly. It even pays homage to Ring at one point of the game when [Editor's note: Er, definitely look away now if you haven't seen Ring!] you come across a well underneath a house, and when you approach it, a long haired, female ghost comes crawling out of the well and starts shuffling toward you. A very nice touch I thought.
[Editor's continued note: Ring virgins may now return.] The graphics are obviously fantastic, with each ghost horrifyingly detailed right down to the mangled limbs and slashed up faces and the actual locations all looking suitably creepy and run down and appearing just as impressive through the camera’s first person view as they do from the standard third person fixed camera perspective. There’s also some really pretty CGI cut scenes in the game at certain points as well. It sure looks the part, and the excellent soundtrack with all its spooky and unsettling background noises adds perfectly to the atmosphere. The voice acting in the game is even quite decent, which isn’t something you always get in survival horror titles (cough masterofunlocking cough).
If any real complaint could be levelled at this game, it’s that it is quite short and the actual play area of the game is very small when compared with the expansive environment of something like say, Silent Hill 2. It felt much shorter and smaller than any other survival horror game I can recall playing through in recent memory at any rate. Saying that though, when I’d finished it the first time, never before have I felt so compelled to play through a game again. There are some decent rewards to be had from multiple plays of the game, so in my opinion it evens out nicely.
Basically, what you have here is probably the scariest game ever made (So long as you play it right. Meaning at night, on your own, and in the dark.) and a gaming experience you would have trouble comparing to many others. This game is just total atmosphere and if you’re not afraid when you play it, then you’re probably already DEAD! Or just not terribly impressed with the game, whichever. I loved it and that’s all that matters.
9 / 10