Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s always exciting to see a game that was previously only released in Japan finally get a worldwide release – especially when it’s part of a series I’m pretty fond of. I’ve been a fan of Project Zero ever since the first release on the original Xbox, so I’m glad to see it’s still alive and kicking in 2023… even IF the last couple of entries have been remastered releases.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse sees players take on the role of four different protagonists who share a bond that ties them to Rougetsu Island. The island had previously seen five young girls go missing, though they were fortunate enough to be rescued by a detective who never gave up on them. That all took place ten years ago though, and with two of the girls dying under mysterious circumstances in the meantime, the three survivors (along with the detective who saved them) venture back to Rougetsu Island to understand why the horrors that reside there won’t let them go.

What follows is your typical survival horror escapade, with players switching between the four characters as they navigate Rougetsu Island, all whilst exploring eerie locales, completing the occasional puzzle, and, of course, facing off with the ghastly ghosts that reside there. Fortunately, you’re equipped with the Camera Obscura, a special camera that can be used to defeat the paranormal entities, with the strength of your shot determined by the clarity and position of your photograph. Manage to take a photo just as a ghost is about to hit you? You’ll land some additional damage and even leave your enemy vulnerable, making it easier to take some additional quick snaps. Want to boost the capabilities of your Camera Obscura? Find some of the fancy lenses scattered around and use them to make it more powerful.

It’s a tried-and-tested formula that has worked well in previous Project Zero titles, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s effective here. It helps that the ghosts themselves are just so unnerving to encounter, with their look and sense of presence making them incredibly frightening when trying to line up that perfect shot. You’ll rarely feel like you’re safe from them, and whilst Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse isn’t an especially challenging game, that fear of the unknown and not quite knowing when a ghost may strike next ensures gamers will be on the edge of their seat when playing. It’s very creepy, but also a lot of fun.

“The gameplay is tense and unnerving, whilst Rougestu Island is a compelling setting that brings with it plenty of eerie sights.”

It’s a shame then that Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse can falter in other areas, most notably with its controls. Not only are characters painfully slow, but actually moving them around feels clunky and hindersome. Whilst the game DID originally come out back in 2008 (and on the Nintendo Wii which might explain some of the clumsiness), it would have been nice for the controls to have been made a little bit more intuitive for this modern release. Whilst its bearable during basic exploration, it can be a little frustrating in combat scenarios – especially when facing off against multiple enemies at a time.

There are some other elements of the game that could be a little annoying too, such as all of the backtracking or the fact that you need to shine a torch at items in order to identify them in the environment around you. Of course, the fact that Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is fifteen-years old does make these archaic elements of game design a bit more forgivable, but they might be a little off-putting for those expecting a more modernised experience.

It could be argued that a bit more could have been done to soup up the visuals too, with Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse having a few shoddy low-res textures here and there that act as a reminder that this is still an older release. Don’t get me wrong, some of the character models look great and there’ve clearly been some improvements made, but every so often you’ll see something that looks a bit blurry and realise that the game doesn’t quite reach the heights seen in similar remastered titles. It’s not ugly by any means, but it definitely won’t be the prettiest horror title you’ve played either. But hey, at least it has a photo mode included now, which feels VERY fitting given the theme of the game.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Despite these flaws, I still had fun with Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. The gameplay is tense and unnerving, whilst Rougestu Island is a compelling setting that brings with it plenty of eerie sights. The blend of puzzling and combat is decent too, whilst the gameplay even changes up at points when you have to use the Stone Flashlight as that aforementioned detective – rather than snapping shots of your foes with the Camera Obscura, you’ll blast them with moonlight from your flashlight instead. Ok, it’s hardly the most exciting of changes, but it did add a bit more variety to the experience.

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse Review

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is very eerie experience, but some clunky controls and dated mechanics do hold it back a little. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun playing and it does nail that eerie vibe that the series is so beloved for, but it could have done with just a few more refinements to help it stand its own amongst the modern horror releases.

Is it a bad game? Definitely not, and I have no doubt that fans of the genre will enjoy it. Just expect some sketchy controls and a bit of backtracking during your creepy adventure through Rougetsu Island.

Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch