Long sought after by the many followers of Tecmo’s horrific franchise, the fourth installment in the Project Zero series finally deigns to offer itself a passport to Europe… 15 years after its initial release on the Wii in Japan.
If the most fervent worshipers of Project Zero had not hesitated to discover the fourth chapter in import when it was released on Wii in 2008, the vast majority of gamers are unaware of almost everything about this episode… Except that it is one of the most recommended chapters of the series. But fifteen years of waiting for a game that we were unfairly deprived of at the time is still a very long time. Hence the very idea that we can finally play it a remaster fully localized and adapted to current machines it’s an opportunity fans of the license won’t fail to savor. Whether the formula will catch up with others remains to be seen.
- Project Zero 4, fifteen years later!
- The remastering of an episode not released outside Japan
- Selenite syndrome and other atrocities
- Fear according to Project Zero
- An outdated formula?
- The dream of the wall passes
Project Zero 4, fifteen years later!
Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse benefits from a complete translation into our language and retains its original Japanese dubbing, a fundamental element to ensure a credible immersion in its universe. Knowing that the narrative threads of this dark story are unraveled primarily via notebook notes collected as they progress, the fact that the texts are translated into French is a major asset for this remaster. Because, if the adventure has its share of chilling cutscenes as always, the notes recovered here and there remain fundamental to help us understand the past of the different characters which we incorporate into all chapters. Several playable characters will thus pass the baton in this fourth work which also does not forget to evoke different temporal references to thicken its mystery as much as possible around disturbing disappearances related to the history of our protagonists.
The remastering of an episode not released outside Japan
In addition to its impeccable French translation, the remaster of this fourth part has benefited from a major dusting off… visually. We’ll come back to the few developments regarding the gameplay a little later but we can already see how the graphic aspect of the title has been modernized. Taking into account the specific technical capabilities of each medium, Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse compensates for the abyss of the last 15 years by offering updated cinematics and character models. Particular work has been done on the rendering of shadows and light effects to reinforce the heavy and gloomy atmosphere which has characterized the series since its inception. The beam of the Spirit Torch, for example, has been improved, and we can say that the immersion is immediate in terms of sound and visuals. Despite everything, the graphic evolution compared to the original version is not as significant as one would have hoped with 15 years of difference.
However, the realistic and supernatural character of the franchise is still as effective as in the early days of the series and fear is present from the beginning to the end of the adventure. A new Snapshot mode has also been implemented to allow us to immortalize the scenes of our choice., at any point in the game, with many customization options. Finally, additional costumes are to be unlocked in addition to those present in the original version, the latter having undergone some changes.
Selenite syndrome and other atrocities
If atmosphere is the strong point of Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, it is more due to the quality of its staging than the clarity of its scenario which plays on several distinct timelines. The choice of locations involved in the story immediately sets the tone. A psychiatric clinic for children with strange sensory faculties and suffering from a mysterious disease linked to the phases of the moon… A pavilion that is only the extension of this hell and that hides sordid events… Depending on the morbid discoveries made by the different individuals we control, we venture deeper and deeper into horror.
Against the backdrop of an ancestral Japanese festival, the plot sees teenage girls return to the island of Rogetsu, the scene of mysterious disappearances closely linked to a forgotten past. Already busy solving a case of strange murders, a private investigator will also try to lift the veil on what is really happening to Rogetsu. It is this combination of interwoven narrative frames that makes this episode so specialwhich requires real concentration from the player.
Fear according to Project Zero
In the early 2000s, when the survival horror offered only a few rare alternatives to resident Evil AND silent Hillthe Tecmo series has made a name for itself among fans of the genre by focusing on the extreme fragility of its characters. With a camera as their only weapon, gamers have discovered yet another way to enjoy a video game, abandoning the action in favor of pure immersion. It must be said that “fear” according to Project Zero does not reside only in these leaps of fear that sometimes appear in the foreground. We hear it omnipresently through these fleeting visions of psychically tortured individuals or these creaking sounds that come from who knows where (and who knows what)… Other times, the discomfort comes from the grain of the image that suddenly thickens and dizzy as we approach of really serious danger, or that hand always ready to grab you when you try to pick up an object… at the risk of seeing it disappear forever.
An outdated formula?
If the imprint of the series, modeled on the references of Japanese horror (Ring and consorts), has lost none of its effectiveness, it still remains atrociously anchored in the past. In 2023, only fans of the franchise will unflinchingly forgive its gameplay from another eralinked to a time when the slowness of the journey could still be a valid solution to artificially thicken the anguish in a survival horror. But seeing this remaster of a title originally designed in 2008 reappear, the same month as Resident Evil 4’s ambitious redesign, inevitably leaves us with a bad taste in our mouths as to what Project Zero could have brought to truly modernized controls.
We know that the very principle of the series lies in the vulnerability of its protagonists armed with a simple camera while ghosts can arise from anywhere by crossing walls, we can’t help but regret this impression of excessive heaviness on the road as it now runs counter to current standards. Even playing on the sensitivity of the camera and activating the gyroscopic functions (this test was carried out on the Switch version), the set still lacks reactivity so as not to be frustrating in such cramped environments. The characters stand almost still when they run and the alarm indicator is not always enough to guess where the ghosts will emerge from, especially when there are many of them, when we already have so few means of getting out of them.
The dream of the wall passes
The logic of the series remains unchanged and the most effective cutscenes must always be saved as much as possible in view of the “bosses”, while the enhancement stones of the Camera Obscura must be carefully distributed in order to optimize their effectiveness. . So let’s move forward step by step to make sure we leave nothing behind, and especially not these different lenses (or lenses) with precious effects to equip on the camera. It’s the same for the spirit torch that replaces the Camera Obscura at certain points in the game but it works similarly. Everything is done so that we constantly feel our extreme vulnerability, and it’s a pity if it is mainly due to the exaggerated slowness of our movements.
Because, too often, the game traps us in rooms or corridors so narrow that we don’t even have three meters of space to move while the ghosts don’t give a damn about the physical barriers that our environment represents. All of this inevitably takes us out of the experience and somewhat undermines the whole immersion effort. made on the level of pure staging. Knowing that the progression is spread over about twelve hours of gameplay, this may put some off. Constraints that it is therefore better to know and accept before embarking on the adventure, as well as the absence of checkpoints and other silly elements that could have significantly dusted off the experience offered by this survival horror antiquated, calibrated only for the nostalgic.
- A major episode finally available outside Japan
- Notable visual improvements
- The pervasive feeling of fear and vulnerability
- An authentic gaming experience that still has its fans
- The optional but welcome gyro feature (tested on Switch)
- Unravel threads of the past by controlling multiple characters
- Alternation between Camera Obscura and Spiritual Torch
- Flawless localization (French texts, Japanese voices)
- Added Snapshot mode for taking photos
- New costumes available
- It’s time to think about making the gameplay more flexible and modern
- A logic of progression that also seems dated
- The excessive slowness of the movements and the stiffness of the controls
- An unbalanced balance of power in the face of 360° wall-traversing wraiths
- Still no checkpoint on failure
- No physical release for France
The unexpected arrival of a new episode of Project Zero, 15 years after its debut in Japan, in a reworked version translated into French, can delight us to the highest degree, but above all it underlines the urgency of modernizing the gameplay of the series. . At present, this remaster is therefore intended exclusively for fans of the franchise who have long been waiting for an opportunity to discover this fourth opus.
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