Mask of the Lunar Eclipse Review
After about 15 years, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse has finally left Japan and is being made available on all modern consoles. A collaborative effort between Koei Tecmo and Goichi Suda’s studio Grasshopper Manufacture as well as being published by Nintendo, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse was a 2008 Wii exclusive that most fans outside of Japan could only read about, and the few that played it had to know Japanese or install fan patches to understand the story. Now, everyone curious to play it will get to know how it holds up.
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The answer is that, overall, Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a solid entry in the Fatal Frame series and a great horror game, but not without its issues. The story is compelling and deals with some heavy themes while dripping in a haunting atmosphere, but some clunky movement controls and a lack of substantial graphical upgrades do little to hide the game’s age.
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As far as ghost stories go, the one in Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is straightforward. Three girls named Ruka, Misaki, and Madoka visit the haunted Rogetsu Isle to find out the truth behind their mysterious pasts, and following behind them is Choshiro, a detective sent to the island to find them. Players take control of each of these characters at varying points in the story, as they pursue the different truths they are looking for while learning more about the tragedy that befell the island’s population.
Given the protagonists’ connection with the island, themes of coming to terms with grief and overcoming trauma can feel pretty on the nose. But it is handled in a way that is effective while tying it into its gameplay. The protagonists are not the most fleshed out in their present-day forms, but reading diary entries written by them, listening to audio recordings they had made, and seeing them come to terms with the moments that…