Thursday, 19 June 2008

Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly DIRECTORS CUT - The Review

Developer: Temco
Publisher: Temco
Realeased: April 29th, 2004
Platforms: Ps2, Xbox (backwards compatible on xbox 360)
Genre: Survival Horror

So right off the bat regulars will know im a big fatal frame fan, and today i finally finished the second game in the series "Crimson Butterfly", so my thoughts?

I bloody love it, heres why.

The game opens and introduces you to twin sisters Mio and Mayu. They are visiting a woodland they used to explore when they were children, and were mayu suffered a permanent leg injury, before the land gets flooded by the construction of an artificial dam. As they sit reminiscing about the past Mio snaps back to reality to find Mayu has wandered off. In the distance Mio can just make out Mayu following something into the deeper woods.
A crimson butterfly.
As Mayu follows her sister the sky darkens, buildings can be made out in the distance and people can be heard chanting.
And more butterfly's.
When Mio finally catches up to Mayu they are on a hill, by a shrine, overlooking a long since abandoned village, hidden for decades in the mountains of the regions.
Getting bad vibes they turn to leave, only to find the path has gone, so with no alternative route, given Mayu's bad leg, the sisters head into town. 
At first the town seems dead, and it is, but it is by no means restful as they soon find out. "All gods village" has been in the same perpetual night for decades and the mad ghosts of the people who have died there roam the streets and homes, all with ill intent to use the sisters as part of there "ritual".....

So as you can imagine the plot kept me enthralled, its a story of loss, love, the nature of siblings and there responsibilities and it just never lets up, its like a cool mountain stream. It looks quite, simple, pretty, but try as you might you cant stop its progress, its a simple but powerful narrative ill spoil no further, but the endings a good one.

Gameplay wise its very much the same kettle of fish as the first fatal frame game, albeit with everything improved. the controls are responsive, well balanced and thought out, my only gripe being that, given the fixed nature of the static cameras in the game you can run up one corridor ,then ,given a reversed angle, start running back down it again without changing the analogue stick around.
Not a big problem, but worth a grumbling mention.

The sound is of the "less is more" variety, and its masterfully done, like bells, crunching gravel or creaking boards, rotten with age and neglect, all add to the mise-en-scene of each chapter and aside form the games theme played in the credits there's little music to speak of. But that only makes what there is have that much more powerful an impact. 

Graphically its been given an upgrade for the xbox and it really shows, the characters are all memorable, there's like 50 different types of enemy in the game, which compared to resident evil or silent hill is a feat in and of itself, and overall its a great looking game, but that alone is not a note worthy thing. 
I really must express to you the art direction of this game. its aesthetic, a grainy series of browns and blacks and general dark color palettes, are juxtaposed by the rich reds in the game every now and then. This contrast is a fantastic choice of design in terms of setting a mood, and giving the game a character which makes the predecessor pale in comparison to.
The pale girls, dressed in blacks and browns, in a shadowy forest, swarmed with the titular ,phosperecent, Crimson Butterflies is a powerful and memorable image.

Overall this is not your generic survival horror, this is something very special that only comes around every so often. Its an art house styled horror game, its psychological, thought provoking and terrifying all at the same time.
This Is , in my opinion, tied with  Silent Hill 2 for the title of greatest Survival horror game in the genre.  This game is an achievement in a world of mindless shooters and sex appeal over story. 

If you are a survival horror fan you owe it to yourself to play this game.


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