Long sought after by many fans of the dreaded Tecmo franchise, the fourth installment in the Project Zero series has finally deigned to offer itself a European pass…15 years after it was first released on the Wii in Japan.
If the most zealous fans Project Zero didn’t hesitate to discover the fourth installment in import when it was released on the Wii in 2008, the vast majority of players know next to nothing about this episode… except that it’s one of the most highly recommended chapters in the series. But fifteen years of waiting for the game, which we were unfairly deprived of at one time, is still a very long time. So the very idea of finally playing a fully localized remaster adapted to current machines is a chance fans of the license won’t fail to savor. It remains to be seen if this formula will work with others.
- Project Zero 4, fifteen years later!
- A remaster of an unreleased episode outside of Japan.
- Selenite syndrome and other atrocities
- Fear according to Project Zero
- Outdated formula?
- Dream of going through the wall
Project Zero 4, fifteen years later!
Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse has a full translation into our language and retains the original Japanese voice acting, which is a fundamental element to ensure authentic immersion in the universe. Knowing that the narrative threads of this dark story are mostly revealed through notes in notebooks collected according to progress, the fact that the texts are translated into French is the main advantage of this remaster. Because while there are, as always, chilling cutscenes in the adventure, the notes found here and there remain important in helping us understand the past of the various characters we embody in the chapters. As such, several playable characters will pass the baton in this fourth opus, which also remembers to invoke a few temporary references in order to thicken its mystery as much as possible around the disturbing disappearances related to the history of our protagonists.
A remaster of an unreleased episode outside of Japan.
In addition to a flawless French translation, this fourth installment’s remaster has benefited from a major cleanup…visually. We’ll come back a little later to some of the gameplay changes, but we can already see how the graphical aspect of the game has been upgraded. Taking into account the technical capabilities specific to each medium, Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse bridges the gap of the past 15 years with updated cutscenes and character models. Special work has been done on the rendering of shadows and lighting effects to enhance the heavy and dark atmosphere that has characterized the series since its inception. The Spirit Torch beam, for example, has been improved, and we can say that the immersion is immediate, both audibly and visually. Despite everything, the graphical evolution from the original version is not as significant as one would hope with a 15-year difference.
However, the realistic and supernatural character of the franchise is still as effective as in the days of the first parts of the series, and the fear is present from the beginning to the end of the adventure. A new Snapshot mode has also been implemented, which allows us to immortalize the scenes of our choice at any point in the game with many customization options. Finally, additional costumes must be unlocked in addition to those in the original version, the latter has undergone some changes.
Selenite syndrome and other atrocities
If atmosphere is Project Zero: The Mask of the Lunar Eclipse’s strong suit, it’s more because of the quality of its production than the clarity of its script, which is played across multiple different timelines. The choice of places involved in the narrative immediately sets the tone. A psychiatric clinic for children endowed with strange sensory abilities and suffering from a mysterious disease associated with the phases of the moon… A pavilion that is only an extension of this hell and hides dirty deeds… According to painful discoveries made with the help of various people we control, we all sink deeper into horror.
Set against the backdrop of a Japanese ancestral festival, teenage girls return to Rogetsu Island, a place of mysterious disappearances closely linked to a forgotten past. Already involved in solving the case of strange murders, a private detective will also try to lift the veil on what is really happening in Rogetsu. It is this combination of intertwined narrative frames that is the highlight of this episode, requiring real concentration from the player.
Fear according to Project Zero
In the early 2000s, when survival horror offered only a few rare alternatives resident Evil AND silent Hill, the Tecmo series has made a name for itself among fans of the genre by focusing on the extreme fragility of its characters. By using the camera as their only weapon, players have discovered another way to enjoy a video game by forgoing action in favor of total immersion. I must say that the “fear” in Project Zero is not only in these jump scares, which sometimes appear in the foreground. We feel it in an omnipresent way, through those fleeting visions of mentally tormented people, or those creaking sounds that come from nowhere (and who knows what) … and dull when a really serious danger approaches, or this hand, always ready to grab you when you try pick up the item… at the risk of seeing it disappear forever.
If the series’ imprint, modeled after Japanese horror films (The Ring and the Consorts), hasn’t lost its effectiveness, it is nonetheless brutally tied to the past. In 2023, only fans of the franchise will unequivocally agree to forgive its gameplay from a different era, tied to a time when slow travel could still be a viable solution to artificially increase Survival Horror’s anxiety. But seeing this remaster of a game originally developed in 2008 resurface the same month as Resident Evil 4’s ambitious redesign inevitably leaves us with a bitter taste of what Project Zero could have brought to truly modernized controls.
We may know that the very principle of the series lies in the vulnerability of its protagonists, armed with a simple camera, while ghosts can appear from anywhere, crossing walls, we cannot help but deplore this impression of excessive heaviness in the journey, as it now contrasts with current standards. Even playing with the camera sensitivity and activating the gyro functions (this test was done on the Switch version), the kit still lacks the responsiveness to be disappointing in such tight conditions. The characters almost stand still when they run, and the alarm indicator is not always enough to guess where the ghosts will jump out from, especially when there are several of them, when we already have so little means to get out of it.
Dream of going through the wall
The logic of the series remains unchanged and the most effective movies should always be kept as close as possible to the “bosses”, and the improvement stones of the Camera Obscura should be carefully distributed to optimize its effectiveness. . Therefore, we move forward step by step to make sure nothing is left behind, and especially these various lenses (or lenses) with precious effects to mount on the camera. The same goes for the spiritual torch, which replaces the camera obscura at certain points in the game, but functions in a similar way. Everything is done so that we constantly feel our extreme vulnerability, and it is very bad if it is mainly associated with an exaggerated slowness of our movements.
Because all too often the game traps us in rooms or hallways so cramped that they don’t even leave us three meters of room to move, while ghosts don’t care much about the physical barriers our environment presents. All this inevitably takes us away from the experience and undermines all immersive efforts made in terms of pure staging. Knowing that progress is spread over roughly twelve hours of play, this may be discouraging for some. Limitations that it is therefore better to know and accept before embarking on an adventure, as well as the lack of checkpoints and other silly elements that could significantly erase the experience offered by this survival horror compared to the old one calibrated only for nostalgia.
- A major episode is finally available outside of Japan.
- Notable visual improvements
- A pervasive sense of fear and vulnerability
- An authentic gaming experience that still has its fans
- Optional but welcome gyroscope feature (tested on Switch)
- Unravel the threads of the past by controlling multiple characters
- Alternating between Camera Obscura and Spirit Torch
- Flawless localization (French lyrics, Japanese voice acting)
- Added Snapshot mode for photography.
- New costumes available
- It’s time to think about how to make the gameplay more flexible and modern.
- Development logic that also seems to be outdated
- Excessive slowness of movements and rigidity of controls
- An unbalanced balance of power in the face of spectra that traverse walls 360°.
- Still no failover checkpoints
- No physical version for France
The unexpected appearance of a new episode of Project Zero, 15 years after its debut in Japan, in a remastered version translated into French, may please us in the highest degree, but above all, it highlights the urgent need for modernization of the gameplay. . As such, this remaster is only for fans of the franchise who have been waiting a long time to discover this fourth opus.
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