Project Zero - Maiden of Black Water review: Photo shock
Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U); rating: 8/10; age: 18+
THE cult Japanese horror series returns with a familiar tale of ghostly shenanigans around a lonely mountain-top. Three characters unravel the grim mystery armed only with a magical camera that can banish the malevolent spirits with a photo.
It’s a device that served the creepy atmosphere magnificently in previous instalments. The closer you get to the ghouls before pressing the shutter the greater the damage inflicted on their howling souls. So it’s a game of holding your nerve until the very last moment before firing off a shot and sending them back to hell. Of course, one photo rarely suffices and most encounters become a frantic bout of cat-and-mouse, as you struggle to keep the enemy in the frame.
The Wii U’s Gamepad thus serves as the perfect claustrophobic viewfinder, held up to your face as the terrifying wraiths swarm around you. This isn’t a game to be played sitting comfortably on the sofa, the gyroscope of the Gamepad forcing you to twist and turn your body to track the ghosts’ movement.
This leads to curious moments where you’ll be cursing, panicking and laughing simultaneously. You may also use a traditional dual analogue stick set-up but that rather ruins the tension.
As always with Project Zero, a glacial plot and deliberately awkward movement intensify the chilling atmosphere while judicious use of jump-scares keeps the heartbeat racing.
Points are deducted, though, for the voyeuristic insistence on wetting the female characters’ clothes with rain for no good reason. Some narrative hokum about dampness making you more vulnerable just doesn’t hold water when it seems like an excuse for a wet T-shirt competition.
In the end, though, it’s the frantic photographic close-ups with the ghouls that prove most memorable. Maiden of Black Water may be old-fashioned in its awkwardness but it still knows how to give good fright.