8.8

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly review
See, I can flutter better than you thought

Summary:

Project Zero II is the story of how two twins stumble into a deserted village, and find themselves trapped there. The disaster that happened in the village years before means that they cannot easily leave, and so to escape they must solve and resolve the mystery of what happened in the past.

This is not an overlong game - I completed it within ten and a half hours on my first play-through - but the pressure is kept up constantly. You never, ever feel safe. There is nowhere safe you can go, and that feeling never lets up throughout the entire game. I did those ten and a half hours over three days, which I do not advise. That sort of intense game-playing left me seeing Japanese girls in white kimonos every time I closed my eyes. Sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night takes on a whole new dimension when you catch a glimpse of yourself in white silk pyjamas with long loose dark hair and start screaming "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME, SAE!" That's the sort of effect this game will have on you. On the other hand, due to the way that the game draws you in, you may be unable to stop yourself from finishing it even faster than I did.

The game-play is similar to the first game. You are a mere teenage girl armed with only a camera, standing against the hordes of ghosts bent on vengeance. However, while the first game took place in Himuro mansion, which, although large, was still only one building, Project Zero II takes place in All God's Village, which has many, many mansions available for your exploration. This lends a different feel to the game. While Project Zero was very lonely, and pretty much everything that moved could be considered an enemy, this game actually has interaction. This lends a different taste to battles, as sometimes the enemy will target Mayu rather than Mio, allowing for different strategies.

One annoying thing about this game is the controls; the camera angle switches often enough that you will usually run the wrong way for a second before collecting yourself. Not helpful when being chased by a vengeful ghost. Speaking of different strategies the ghosts have a fair few tricks up their sleeves as well, although I still managed to get through the game using only five herbal medicines out of the thirty or so the game provides. The lack of shops means you may run low on supplies occasionally, which, as in the first game, makes planning ahead essential. However, with care, you can easily find enough items in the game.

The voice acting is not incredible, although Mio's actress really comes into her own during the end sequence. The graphics are superior to the first game, and locations, especially, are amazing. The different textures look incredibly, and since with the camera you can zoom into pretty much anywhere you like, the effect is fantastic. The music doesn't stand out particularly although it definitely adds to the effect of the game in it's own subtle way. The end theme, Butterfly (Chou), however, is absolutely amazing. It's perfectly suited to the tragic ending, and makes a great game fantastic.

Speaking of the ending, it's absolutely astounding. Although a logical conclusion, it's still a surprise. I was in tears for a good twenty minutes.

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