Here in the UK we are right in the middle of the first major storm of the season. So major, in fact, it’s the first storm to have been given a name by the Met Office, which is pretty cool!
As we weather Storm Abigail, we’ve been taking advantage of the appropriately scary ambient atmosphere to enjoy our latest Nintendo purchase; Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water.
If you’re reading this you likely already know what this game is about, in which case feel free to skip to the pictures! If you don’t, in a nutshell it is a survival horror game with a pretty amazing setting, Mount Hikami, which is an amalgamation of several allegedly haunted places and hallowed grounds in Japan including Aokigahara, Mount Osore and Mount Koya and is infamous for both suicides and spiritual happenings connected to bodies of water. You follow the stories of three main characters (plus get to play as Ayane from Dead or Alive for a while) and your weapon of choice against the hostile spirits you encounter is your antique camera.
Water plays a big role in the game, basically the more wet you get the more spirits you encounter so playing it on a dark stormy night can get pretty damn scary! With Storm Abigail predicted to gives some areas a months worth of rain in just two days, I’m sure you can understand why I said this was an appropriate time to play this game. Makoto Shibata, director of the series, tells us this in the foreword of the included artbook:
‘I wanted to evoke a sense of dread linked with water, drawing upon the mythology of ghosts manifesting in damp environments. The game’s characters and ghosts alike are surrounded by the mists, rivers and lakes of Mount Hikami, in a world where- from life to the afterlife- all things are connected by water. When you play, I really hope you can feel the sense of saturated fear I was trying to convey’.
I think they achieved that well, the atmosphere is great and definitely builds a sense of dread. I’ve found you need a bit of historical knowledge of Japan (or at least have an interest in the subject) to fully appreciate the game and the effort that has been put into the locations and subject matter. You also need to like taking pictures, because that’s really what you’ll be doing…a lot 😉
Enough rambling, let’s look inside the box!
Both the outer box design and game cover are a beautiful showcase to what Nintendo can do when it actually tries with graphics. The darker outer box definitely gives you more of a feel for the dark atmosphere of the game than what the childish bright blue of the standard Wii U games case does.
Is it just me, or is it really weird seeing an 18 Wii game? The Wii, not to mention Nintendo as a whole, just seems like far too innocent and family friendly a console/company to have an 18 rated horror title revolving around hostile spirits and suicides. It certainly doesn’t look right next to our cute and childish Kirby or Yoshi games, or any of our other Wii games to be honest. I can understand why they kept the physical release limited, it doesn’t quite seem to match the rest of the in store physical line up.
The disk has a great design too, I do hate when disks are neglected 😉
The first bonus to come with the limited edition is a rather beautiful steel book. I don’t quite know why Nintendo are obsessed with steel books lately in their special editions, but it is undeniably pretty and definitely better suited to the game’s atmosphere than the original blue box. Obviously, it looks better in person when you can actually appreciate the shiny metalic-ness :p
We then have an artbook, which is reasonably small/thin (to keep the box size reasonable I assume) but is packed with great content. There is a good range of concept art including character designs, locations (both buidings and lanscapes) and full page rendered artwork, as well as several text descriptions that help you understand elements of the game in more depth. I don’t want to put the full book online, but here are a few examples of what you find inside:
All the artwork is beautiful and of a high standard, there’s no filler pages full of dodgy sketches or tiny pieces of art work. It really helps set the scene for the game itself.
Next we have a little while envelope containing quite possibly my favourite part of the limited edition, these awesome little Spirit Photographs. They are quite hazy (that’s not camera blur) but they’re obviously thematic to the game and the camera you use in the game. They’re made from thick card and the double sided printing is great quality.
I love the reverse of the Spirit Photographs, with their damp, water stained appearance and frantic handwriting. It’s the type of thing you’d be really freaked out to find if you were really on Mount Hikami, which to me is incredibly cool. I love little real life in game items like these 🙂
Finally, we have a double sided poster featuring both the cover art from the game and an image of a Shrine Maiden (who you meet in game). Again, this is a high quality print on a good heavy paper, with crystal clear images that really let you appreciate both pieces of artwork in their full sized glory rather than their scaled down cover and art book versions. Obviously, a camera phone picture of a poster on a wall doesn’t do it any justice, in person both images are amazingly high quality. The poster measures about 74x53cm.
Now, I’m not going to write a review on this game because 1. I take my time with games and so haven’t completed it yet and 2. I really dislike game reviews, and this game has many perfect examples of reviews already that prove my point as to why; they are far too often made up of highly biased (nostalgia and rose tinted glasses anyone?) and often uninformed opinion arrogantly being stated as fact and are often far too critical over things that barely matter that they miss the point of the game anyway. Not saying all game reviews are like that, but I’ve read enough that I’m sickened of them as a whole. It seems that you can’t write about a game and be taken seriously unless you are criticizing everything you possibly can, and since I’m sure it’s clear by now that I prefer writing positively about things or not writing about them at all I don’t feel like game reviewing is something I should go anywhere near.
So, I’m just going to say that I am loving the game so far and I am glad I went for the limited edition version (which happened to be the only physical version of the game available in the UK). I love all the content, and considering the eshop price for the downloadable version of the game is currently £39.99 I am very happy with the £49.99 price tag for the physical limited edition. To me it was worth it 🙂
If you’re interested, you can download the demo for this game for free from the Nintendo estore. I recommend doing this as, while I’ve loved it so far, the game really hasn’t been a hit for everyone so in this case, try before you buy is a must.