Project Zero Reader Review
What is it with kids in horror films? Have they never actually seen a horror film themselves? Teenagers troop single-file into that cellar with the mysteriously broken light like it's advertising free beer, despite the fact that none of their friends have returned. The same can be said of Miku, the lead character in Project Zero. Upon hearing that her brother has vanished while looking for his mentor in an old mansion, she decides that rather than filing a missing persons report with the proper authorities it would make more sense to go to the mansion instead. On her own. Without any weapons. Great idea!
The first thing that hits you upon arriving at the ruined mansion is that it's dark. Very dark. In fact, without Miku's torch to illuminate things it'd be pretty much pitch black. The next thing is that the place is jam-packed full of the spirits of the people who have died there. If you thought zombies were scary then prepare for a change of underpants - these guys are fast, almost invisible and they follow you wherever you run... even through walls! Miku isn't totally defenceless, however - she's armed with a sixth sense which allows her to detect spirit activity and an enchanted camera which she can use to trap the spirits. Using this switches from third to first person view, with you wildly swinging the camera to try and bust shots off at whatever malevolent beastie is currently trying to tear your head off.
What follows is a mostly bog-standard but very stylish exercise in survival horror. Miku runs a lot, picks up keys and health potions, solves puzzles to unlock doors and despatches unhealthy amounts of the undead - improving the camera along the way by spending the points accumulated when you take particularly good photos. However, what sets this apart from games like Resident Evil is the atmosphere. Project Zero positively oozes class from every pore, from the crisp graphics and moody lighting down to the ambient sound that echoes through the empty mansion. It's also pretty damned scary, fairly gory and downright disturbing on occasions - definitely one to play late at night with the lights off and the sound up.
Complaints are few - the game is a little on the short side (I clocked it in about 8 hours), but there are plenty of unlockables to entice you to play through again. And if anything, the third night (out of four) is just a little bit too difficult, making it not quite as much fun as the other nights. But if you're after a truly scary survival horror title then I'd suggest you give this one a whirl - especially now that it's available for about a tenner.
8 / 10