Fatal Frame is and will forever be a survival horror series. It’s like Silent Hill, in that it’s defined by a set of features and expected themes, atmosphere and mechanics. This might have kept it from finding a larger audience in the past, but now, I think it will help set this game apart from the plethora of other horror games we have on the way.
The unrelenting terror that defined the first game and established the Fatal Frame series as a worthy contender to Silent Hill and Resident Evil would work brilliantly in today’s market. Just look at our favorite genre’s latest hits, like Slender: The Eight Pages, Outlast and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. They’re great games, but much of their success stemmed from the fact that they’re all shit-out-your-spine scary. We know Fatal Frame can be that scary too, it just needs another chance.
Also, no gimmicks. The controller works just fine for these games, I don’t need to be forced to use a PS Move or Kinect. I would also really like to see another Fatal Frame that doesn’t rely on spattering its levels with all things red and squishy. If I want gore, I can play… anything, really. I don’t need it here, too.
The original game was criticized — wrongly, I might add — for being “too scary.” This led director Makoto Shibata to make the follow-up more accessible, so as to encourage players [who never completed the original game] to overcome the scariness in wanting to see the end of the story.”
This is a series that has tried incredibly hard to balance its story with its scares, almost to a fault. It doesn’t want to scare you too much, lest you decide to leave it for something less traumatizing, but since its foundation is built on some immensely terrifying mechanics — specifically the camera obscura, which basically forces you to get up close and personal with the malevolent spirits that wish to do you harm — so when it reels back on a possible scare, it’s noticeable.
I want this series to embrace both of its biggest strengths: its twisted story, with its dark themes of extreme xenophobia and ritual sacrifice, and the abundance of horror it can offer unsuspecting players. An unbound Fatal Frame that balances both has the potential to satisfy fans of the genre as well as the market that could be the most critical to its sales: YouTubers.
This series has historically been very linear. Too linear, I think. Let’s open it up a bit, shall we?
It might sound like an odd choice, but I’d suggest looking at Alan Wake as an example of what a more open Fatal Frame could look like. Just replace Wake’s gun and flashlight with a camera and the American wilderness with a less familiar Japanese village — possibly even one that’s been forgotten by time, left to rot deep within an ancient woods or hidden mountainside. Japan’s Aokigahara Forest (Suicide Forest), where hundreds of souls visit to commit suicide every year could be a solid source of inspiration for it. I’m sure that place is brimming with creepy.
Opening up this series so it’s less linear shouldn’t be difficult, it’s just a matter of smart level design. Don’t corral me toward the objective like a sheep covered in fine orange Cheeto dust; woo me by cooing delicately into my ear before unleashing a horde of ghosts to scare me in the right direction. That’s worked before.
That’s it! Want more wish lists? Good, because we have plenty. You can check out my other wish lists for The Evil Within and the next Silent Hill, if you feel so inclined. If I missed something you’re particularly passionate about or touched on something you really agree with, I highly recommend you share your thoughts in the comments.