Fatal Frame IV

The Fatal Frame games have established themselves as the byword for suspense-filled horror. There are no showers of blood or shotguns, no hideous demons with heads attached to their backsides, and definitely no muscle-bound heroes called Jack. Instead, you play as a fragile-looking Japanese schoolgirl and are only ever armed with a flashlight and a special camera that can exorcise the ghosts that haunt whatever spooky location it is that you find yourself in. The games are superb.

Tentatively subtitled Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the fourth Fatal Frame outing arrives in Japan at the end of July and fresh details emerging from its native land suggest that it’ll be every bit as brilliant yet bum-clenchingly terrifying as its predecessors. The game is set on the ‘mysterious’ Rougetsu Island, home to a haunted mansion (who’d have thought it) where five girls from the same family were kidnapped when they were small children. We presume they’re sisters.

Two of the girls died after leaving the island, but some years later the other three decide to return and solve the mystery of their kidnap. You’ll play as Ruka, but if the other games are anything to go by, there’ll be sections where you play as one of the other two girls. You’ll probably be able to hear the petrifying screams of the others girls echoing around the mansion. As to how the game will play on Wii, little was forthcoming at the time of writing. However, the camera and flashlight simply have to be controlled with the Wii remote or there will be much rabble-rousing. As per the title, masks will definitely play a prominent role – but what? Will you have to use them like amulets to defeat the stronger-willed ghosts? Or are they linked to the kidnap? We just don’t know, but one thing’s for sure – we can’t wait to find out...

The scans from Japanese game magazine Famitsu reveal the artistic styling to be very much in keeping with previous games – all sepia tints and hues, and dusty, deserted, shadowy locations. Which is fine by us. Shibata Makoto is co-directing the game with Suda51, and as Shibata has worked on all the previous titles, we’re more than hopeful that this will be the best Frame yet.

Jun 20, 2008