Review by BannedAccount

Reviewed: 01/04/06

A unique and intriguing game... if you're up for the challenge

After the disappearance of her brother, Miku goes into a mansion which is where her brother was last known to be going. Once in the mansion, she sees that something is a bit off in this place and she can't even leave. So while searching for your brother and a way out, you discover the old antique camera that had once belonged to your mother. Your brother had brought it into the mansion with him, knowing that it might come in good use. With this camera, you must find your brother and a way out of the mansion, battling spirit's with it along the way.

Game Play:
As already stated above, to progress in this game you must find your brother and a way out. Solving the odd puzzle and fighting a spirit along the way. To fight a spirit, you use the camera since according to some cultures, they can steal your soul. You then simply have to go into Camera Mode (which just involves the press of a button) and sit and wait while your camera charges. The stronger the charge, the more damage you'll inflict. And if you wait it out for when the aiming reticule turns red, you'll inflict extra damage. However, unlike this game's sequel (Crimson Butterfly), that's easier said than done.

Ghosts in this game are rather cheap. Most will teleport behind you or into walls and will literally run at you. They're very fast. I would say when doing that little suicidal run move that I just mentioned, they're about twice as fast as you are. So most of the time you'll just end up settling for a charged up shot, since it seems patience doesn't pay off in this game because the ghost's are so cheap. And even if you do wait it out for a red reticule shot and take the picture on time, they'll still come charging straight at you! Like someone said (I can't remember what review it came from...sorry) you walk away from battles feeling lucky and not like you did particularly well. Since there really doesn't seem to be any skill involved, but just 'twitch and hope for the best' reflexes.

However, you could argue that it does add slight realism because I'm sure if you were trapped in a haunted mansion with only a camera to defend yourself, you'd be pretty screwed and have a feeling of helplessness. Unlike the sequel (Crimson Butterfly) where they were so easy, it was nearly laughable. Oh, and while we're still sort of on the subject of realism, I must mention that this game has a lot of nice touches that really makes your character feel human. A few examples: I was walking through a hallway with ropes that dangle down. As I moved further down, I pushed one back and it ended up hitting poor little Miku in the back and she stopped and screamed! I scared the hell out of that adorable little Japanese schoolgirl. Even a few seconds after that she had to stop to compose herself. I felt terrible... =(

There were also times when I was outside and thunder struck, startled the hell out of me and Miku both. Even when she's going down a ladder she'll stop when there's an earthquake and go slow when she's balancing on a beam up in the attic. Just a bunch of small little touches like that really make you feel like you're controlling a real person and not some dead lifeless robot, like in Crimson Butterfly, who lacked any trace of human emotion... and Miku can actually run, unlike someone from a certain sequel who ran at the speed of a crippled snail...

I should tell you about the scariness factor, or slight lack there of, in this game. It's creepy, at best. I was never actually scared. I'm not trying to act tough either, I actually think of myself as quite the wuss, and I wasn't bothered by this game. Actually, that's not true... I was bothered by this game, but not because of fear. That's because, despite this game's horrible voice acting, the story is really immersive and depressing. You actually feel bad for most of the ghost's you fight.

This game really has a subtle genius to it's creepiness, though. Like in this one area, there's this screen...But since there's a light behind it, you could see shadows. One time, towards the end of the game, I was going past there and I saw a shadow that looked like a person. As I started to approach it... it vanished.

What managed to get me every time in this game (and any game for that matter) was the jump scares. I swear they get me every time. One time as I was heading towards a reading nook, I had a particularly bad camera angle and couldn't find my way into the room. I should mention that this game has much better camera angles than Crimson Butterfly. You're probably getting sick of me mentioning that game now, aren't you? The reason why I keep doing that is because I felt that Crimson Butterfly had so much untapped potential, that it made me frustrated. So once I played this game (Crimson Butterfly was the first of this series that I've played) I saw how much better the original was and wondered why they hadn't taken some of the really great things this game has.

Anyways, back to the story which you've probably forgotten by now.. I couldn't see because of a bad camera angle (one of the few in this game) and couldn't get in the room because of this game's collision detection....which is just noticeable enough to make it a slight annoyance. So, I switch to camera mode to get a first person view, and start to slowly walk towards the reading nook. Suddenly, a ghost pops out right in front of me out of nowhere. That is the first time a game has ever made me scream. I just so wasn't freakin' expecting that.

Graphics:
All of the colors look a little washed out, but that's most likely intentional. The house looks really old, there's holes in the floor and it looks like it hasn't been lived in for many years. Miku looks really cute, not very realistic (she looks a tad anime-ish...) Most of the ghosts are just a little blocky or misshapen, but I suppose that's to be expected when you were murdered all because a ritual went awry... Overall, nothing spectacular. They get the job done.

Sound:
The voice acting is pretty horrible. I would have to guess that everyone doing the voices, English is most likely their second language. The delivery is just really flat, no emotion at all. Miku's voice is very breathy. The sound effects are pretty good, the floors creak and all that. The music is good, what little you hear of it.

Should you buy this game?
If you can find it, yeah. It has a lot of replay value since when you beat it you unlock more difficulty modes and costumes. The Xbox version is the best one to get since we get an extra ending and more costumes as well as better sound and slightly enhanced graphics.

Rating: 7

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