Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly has a reputation of being one of the scariest games ever made. It is right up there with Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill 2. Released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Fatal Frame 2 kind of lives up the hype. You play as one of two twin sisters, Mayu and Mio, as they try to escape a lost village and investage on what happened to the residents there. The atmosphere and setting is chilling and it makes use of the haunted feel of the game. As great as the setting is, each area can feel the same and it can become frustratingly easy to get lost in as you try to find the next objective. The atmosphere loses some of its power because of this, but the scares never lose its power and if you happen to let your guard down that is when the ghosts will appear. There are a number of types of ghosts that you will see. Some will lead you to your next destination, and others that will attack you. It does not happen often, but there will be a couple of times where a certain ghost will kill you in the slightest touch. You can defend yourself with the Camera Obscura. This camera will allow you to take photos of the ghosts you will meet in the game.
When you take a picture of a ghost, you will exercise them. The better the picture, the better the damage, and the higher points you will get. You can upgrade your camera by using sprit orbs and the points you have earned. The camera is fixed and the control feels like Resident Evil. The camera rarely becomes a problem. If you use the camera, it switches to a first person where you can move around in.
The story and the game are dark. At first, you will read about this ritual, but as you continue the game, you will learn more about the cultish village and the reason behind the ritual. Murder, suicides, human sacrifice, and the power of twins are heavy themes in Fatal Frame 2. Grim stuff only gets darker as you continue. The grim tone comes to life thanks to its excellent sound design. The voice acting of the twins and ghosts are chilling. The wind, music, and the footsteps will leave you uneasy. I would not call Fatal Frame 2 a survival horror, but it is pure horror. Fatal Frame 2 is more effective than most survival horror games that have come out in the past few years on consoles.
One of the most important aspects of horror is pacing. This is where the game slightly veers of course. It is very easy to get lost and it breaks the flow of the game. Worst yet, there is this section near the end of Fatal Frame 2 where you need to find puzzles pieces. This blatant use of padding never did any good in games. It would not be so bad if they send you to a new area, but you have to go to the same places over again. Fatal Frame 2 has a lot of backtracking, more so than Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill. You will enter the same three houses two to three times just to find that key or map to continue. By either key or diary, there is always something to find, so exploration is a big factor into Fatal Frame 2. The puzzles are well made but you have a time or move limit to them. You can ignore them because nothing happens and if you do manage to fail the puzzles you can do it again with the pieces back to where it was.
Fatal Frame 2: The Crimson Butterfly is a good game. It may not be as good as Resident Evil 2 or Silent Hill, but it is far creepier and sometimes scarier than those games. If horror is your thing, then give Fatal Frame 2 a shot.