Other than being made by the same company, survival horror series Fatal Frame and fighting game series Dead or Alive have had little in common — until now that is.
Upon beating, Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko, the fifth and newest game in the Fatal Frame series, you unlock a series of four bonus chapters following DoA‘s ninja Ayane as she arrives at the haunted mountain. However, while a ninja she may be, a sword has little effect on a ghost, and she barely escapes the encounter. Not to be deterred from her mission, Ayane returns to the mountain armed not with a ghost-destroying camera but with a mystical rod capable of stunning the ghosts for a short time.
Thus Ayane’s chapters in Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko play far more like a stealth game than the game’s normal chapters. When you see a ghost, you do your best to sneak past it or stun it and then quickly run by. Moreover, while the wand’s power doesn’t decrease with use, every moment a ghost is aware of your presence does cause the wand to lose power and — unlike the camera obscura — it takes a few seconds for it to charge up an effective shot. Once the wand is fully out of power, however, only a consumable item can restore it, leaving you helpless.
In theory, it sounds like an enjoyably different way to play Fatal Frame. In practice, though, it never seems to work out that way. As using the rod alerts other ghosts in the area to your presence, the best course of action seems to be stun-if-you-can and then run for the end of the level. Once spotted by multiple ghosts, I found running was far more efficient when it came to preserving wand power than standing my ground and stunning them. Moreover, as I had played the entire 20-hour game before this, I was always able to guess where I needed to go and — as Ayane runs faster than a normal Fatal Frame character — I could easily just run to the end of the level. Every level but the first took me around three minutes to complete.
In the end, while this mode is an interesting idea and the short story with Ayane was enjoyable enough, Ayane’s chapters really aren’t balanced properly and thus you have no incentive to play it like a stealth game as intended.
To see my stream of Ayane’s chapters, check out the video below.
Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko was released for the Nintendo Wii U on September 27, 2014, in Japan. There is currently no word on an international release.