Gameplay which reinvents the survival horror genre
The villagers say that it used to belong to a rich and influential landowner and all talk of the Himuro family inevitably centres around the rumours and myths surrounding it. None of the villagers dare go near the now ruined manor…
Mafuyu, a young journalist investigating the disappearance of his benefactor (a novelist) last seen on the property, decides to go to the place. However, when he gets there, he realises that he is not alone…
Not having heard from her brother in two weeks and with a premonition that he is in danger, Miku decides to go and look for him.
Blessed with a sixth sense which allows her ‘see things’ which ordinary mortals can’t, Miku must uncover the truth about what really happened in order to free the manor from the evil spirits which haunt it and find her brother, the last surviving member of her family.
The manor has no electricity but, mastering her fear and taking her courage in both hands, she heads off in search of her brother and starts to explore it, with a torch as her only source of light.
Only one weapon: a camera with supernatural powers
Project ZERO’s originality lies in the fact that the characters use a very unusual weapon to defend themselves: a camera with supernatural powers which was left to Miku and Mafuyu by their mother.
Coupled with the main character’s obvious vulnerability, this curious ‘weapon’ reinforces the players’ feeling of powerlessness as, unlike other action games, they are not equipped with any standard-issue weapons (rifle, grenades, etc.).
It is only by taking photos of the ghosts that Miku can capture their damned souls and destroy them. The more centred a ghost is in a photo, the greater the damage inflicted on it. Each photo taken earns points which improve the camera’s capabilities (greater zoom power, faster wind-on between photos, etc.). As she progresses through the game, Miku will also be able to pick up extra film, clues, objects and even herbal medicine.
Project ZERO is played in the third person but includes sequences in the first person when looking through the camera’s viewfinder.
In the course of her investigation, Miku will meet many evil spirits but also ghosts who will be of great help to her in uncovering clues.
Players can save their game by going up to camera-shaped ‘Check points’.
Hardest of all… facing up to the terrifying atmosphere
Thanks to its graphics which constantly play with the effects of shadow and light, Project ZERO literally plunges players into an oppressive and frightening world. Whenever Miku makes the smallest movement, the beam of her torch reacts instantly and shines on the ground and walls in a very realistic manner.
The developers have succeeded in creating a deeply terrifying atmosphere by using all the ingredients of classic horror films (old abandoned house, spider webs, rickety stairs, isolated character, etc.). Attention to texture and detail in the 3D real time environments serves to reinforce the feeling of creeping anguish.
This attention to detail is also to be found in the music and oppressive sound effects. The rhythm and intensity of the music accelerates and changes as different types of ghost approach.
Both the cut scenes which play at key moments in the game and the camera angles are worthy of a real film. What is more, the absence of loading time between rooms gives the game an unparalleled fluidity.
Finally, whenever Miku runs or panics, the gamepad starts to vibrate in time with her tortured heartbeat…
Release date: September 2002
Number of payers: 1
Public: Not recommended for under 16s
Genre: Survival / horror