Game – Spirit Camera – The Cursed Memoir
Version – Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: ‘T’ – Teen
Obtained – Loaner Review Copy Courtesy of Nintendo of America
Spirit Camera – The Cursed Memoir is a spin-off of the survival horror game series Fatal Frame. The game is centered around a girl named Maya who has been hiding in the darkness of an old house, cursed by an evil, mysterious woman in black. To free Maya from the curse, players must use the “diary of faces” – a 16-page AR notebook included with the game – to view ghostly images and interact with the world Maya is trapped in, which just so happens to be your living room, kitchen, bathroom (if that’s your fancy) or any well lit area.
The game’s story mode uses the included ‘Diary of Faces’ which is a 16 page booklet. The AR mode brings this book to life allowing the player to interact with the spirits contained within. While exploring the house you come across Maya who has lost her memory. She travels out of the Diary of Faces with you through the Camera Obscura. You look for clues within the Diary of Faces to help her regain her memory and figure out why the Woman in Black is taking people’s faces.
The game primarily is in the camera mode and you interact with the Diary of Faces by focusing on the page. Within the Diary of Faces, the player must solve the puzzles by figuring out which pages to look at, or solving different puzzles on that page. Some pages have spirits within which have clues to why the Woman in Black is capturing people within the Diary of Faces and ripping off their faces. Once you release a spirit, they join you in the room you are playing in. This then becomes a Spirit Battle. Using the gyro controls, you spin around while battling by taking pictures of the spirit. Each timed picture does damage, and the spirit is able to do damage to the player if they get too close to them.
The controls are very simplistic; the story is mostly played through the camera mode. That said, you can use L/R to take photos, the control pad will change your lens, A will interact with your spirit guide Maya and X will bring up the options menu. The options menu allows you to review the items found, listen to the captured voices and view the tutorials. It also lets you customize the sound settings and calibrate the gyro sensors. This game also uses the gyro controls allowing the player to turn around and view their surroundings, ceiling, floor, etc.
There are some notes about the controls. First the Diary of Faces must be on a flat surface, and in a well lit area. This game also appeared to be harder to play at night, despite having an overhead light. Most of the story mode must be played with the diary close by and the player will have the focus on different pages, so being near a flat surface which is well lit is a requirement. Also, the Spirit Battles require the player to be in a position to be able to do 360s trying to battle them. So the player should be in a spinning desk chair, or be able to stand. This is not an ideal control scheme for the couch, a commute, or travel.
There are 3 main modes in this game, the Story Mode, Haunted Visions and Cursed Pages. Story Mode is your go to campaign mode. The game automatically saves progress, so you can continue from the last save, continue from any completed scene, and as always, the beginning. There is only 1 save file, so if the player wishes to complete the game on their own, they should not let others use the story mode option.
Next is Haunted Visions, which is just a fun way to use the 3DS’ camera. Basically you can take pictures around your surroundings, and spirits will be added into them. There is also a sub section to battle a spirit that appears out of one of the photographs which you took of someone. Finally, there is the Cursed Pages, which allow you to revisit the mini-games during Story Mode. The difficulty increases as you complete the easier iterations of them.
The visuals and 3D Graphics do a tremendous job creating and maintaining the horror atmosphere. The spirits are pretty convincing that they are within the background of your home. This was probably the game’s best point since the graphics look very nice and the use of the the 3D effect allows you to see some depth within the Diary and makes the spirits pop out at the player. The spirits are very frightening looking and look pretty realistic.
The music/sound effects are another nice touch with maintaining the horror atmosphere. The voice acting was done pretty well and the sounds are very fitting to each of the environments. The music and sounds are required to maintain the atmosphere of the game.
Concluding Overall Impressions
While the game does a tremendous job of keeping the mood with the graphics and sounds, the game is actually surprisingly short. It took about 6-8 hours to complete story mode and the Haunted Visions or Cursed Pages didn’t really seem to have a lot of lasting power. The Spirit Battles were enjoyable, but also seemed somewhat easy. It felt like the game was limited to the small booklet and most pages were just a quick scan. With the limiting controls/surrounding requirements, it made the game more difficult to play. I loved the concept of the game and the story was very interesting, I just felt like the game could have been better. I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a horror experience in a well lit area or someone looking for a quick rental.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.