Project Zero 3 PS2 Review

There’s something that Tecmo’s Project Zero series has been able to achieve that likeminded games have failed to do, and that’s to offer a horror game without a single gun or drop of blood to be seen. To craft a worthy horror series Tecmo instead have come to rely on a chilling atmosphere and arming the characters with a simple camera.

Rei Kurosawa is the major player in this intriguing plot, and after her boyfriend is killed in a car accident, which she was responsible for, she begins to have nightmares. At night you are dreaming about ghosts, puzzles and scary manors, but during the day you are returned to Rei’s fittingly dreary apartment, which kind of reminded us of Silent Hill 4.

A gun wouldn’t have been ideal for immaterial foes, and it’s here where Zero’s exorcising camera enters the equation to rid your travels of unsettling ghouls. You may have already gathered that the Camera Obscura doesn’t exist to take holiday snaps in this gaming world, instead your transparent foes are to be vanquished by some steady photography using this upgradeable antique camera.

There‘s something unnerving about entering first person mode to deal out damage by catching approaching ghosts on a photograph, and when they suddenly vanish out of your sight, not knowing where they’ve disappeared to and their inevitable reappearing is one of the most tense moments that can be experienced in a game.

When you aren’t troubled by ghosts you’ll be wandering around, finding items (health, more powerful film for your camera, and key items) and solving relatively simple puzzles. The rest of the time you’ll be going around in circle after circle in a desperate attempt to find the location that you are intended to go to. At times the game is so unhelpfully vague that we were surprised that it doesn’t come included with a walkthrough as standard.

Rei isn’t the games only controllable character as she is accompanied by Kei Amakura (a friend of her deceased boyfriend) and Miku Hinasaki the heroine of the original game. You’ll find little things like small gaps (ideal for the petite frame of Miku) or movable objects (Kei‘s male muscle comes into play), but until the time and place comes for the necessary character to act, the locations remain unreachable. The characters even have individual skills, such as Miku’s ability to slow down ghosts and Kei’s stealth skill (which should make things all the more tense, but somehow it spectacularly fails).

An archaic control scheme and puzzlement of where to venture next is where Project Zero 3’s flak is much deserved, but with such a visually powerful and haunting experience willing you to partake directly, it’s a series that very much remains a nice alternative to the splashes of gore and loud guns often seen elsewhere.