Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse review

by on March 9, 2023
Release Date

March 9, 2023


Back in 2021 Koei Tecmo published a remaster of the fifth game in the Project Zero series, Maiden of the Black Water. I really enjoyed my playthrough of the game, and the classic survival horror experience felt so refreshing in the modern era of video games. It must have been a success for them, because now the fourth game in the series is getting a remaster too. I was excited to get my hands on the Camera Obscura all over again, but Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse taught me to be careful what I wish for.

The island of Rogetsu has long been known as a mysterious and sinister place with connections to the other side. Some of our protagonists know this better than anyone since they were imprisoned until an asylum on the island at a young age, but their memories of the ordeal are more than a bit hazy. Looking for answers they head back as young adults, and find all the ghosts and misery you’d expect from a Project Zero game.

A screenshot of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

If you’ve played a Project Zero (or Fatal Frame for some of our overseas readers) game before, you know what to expect from Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. As various characters you’ll be exploring a variety of spooky environments, solving puzzles and most importantly, taking a whole lot of photos of dead people.

What makes Project Zero special is that instead of fighting the ghoulish enemies with baseball bats or guns, you batter them with a magical camera called the Camera Obscura. This ancient ghostbusting weapon is the only way to exorcise vengeful spirits from the world, and is also a really clever gameplay mechanic. Forcing you to look the horrifying enemies in the eye to defeat them is a rather genius idea, and not for the faint of heart.

Unfortunately playing the series in the order I did really spoiled the photography for me. After enjoying all the more engaging elements of the combat in Maiden of the Black Water (like having to rotate the camera to hit all the weak points) camera combat in Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse just feels a bit lacklustre. Walking backwards and pressing the snap button is pretty much all you need to do here, and even once you’ve collected new abilities and film types it just feels underwhelming and sluggish. And that’s before the enemies start attacking you from the inside of walls unfairly.

A screenshot of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

If you find the combat slow paced, the exploration won’t do much to improve your move. The characters in this game move comically slow, but after the first ten minutes I stopped seeing the funny side. Even picking up items and opening doors takes much longer than it should, making every session with the game feel like a chore.

This pacing issue is exacerbated by the fact that you spend so much time in Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse backtracking through the same environments. So often your objective is to go between two rooms you’ve already explored and fight slightly different ghosts, and because of this the game ends up feeling like it’s made up more of padding than of new and exciting content. When the only new thing you see in a thirty minute segment is a whole lot of text lore, it’s more than a little underwhelming.

It might feel like I’ve been a little harsh on Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, and the game isn’t without its charms. The atmosphere and enemies are often genuinely scary, and the overall plot involving the faces of “blossoming” girls becoming blurred is great. The upgrade system is engaging too once you gather enough shiny stones, with each stat boost you give to your camera or torch feeling really noticeable.

A screenshot of Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse

I played Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse on the Switch, and while it runs fairly functionally there, it’s by no means perfect. The framerate is just “okay”, and there are moments it’ll dip pretty significantly. This seems to happen the most when picking up items, and because there’s often a grabby ghost hand to avoid when reaching for an object it can really mess up your timing when trying to dodge it. As much as it’s maybe not the ideal place to play the game performance wise though, it’s hard to deny the appeal of a spooky game in handheld mode while tucked up in bed.

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse isn’t a bad game, but the slow pacing and constant backtracking make it a tough one to recommend. I did enjoy exploring the creepy environments and getting spooked by ghosts, but when compared to the last Project Zero game we got, it’s really hard not to be disappointed with this particular entry.


Genuinely spooky
Camera combat is clever
Upgrades feel meaningful


Is very slow paced
Enemies attacking from walls feels unfair
Much more basic combat than recent games in the series
Performance on Switch isn't fantastic

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is a genuinely spooky game, but it's let down by some severe pacing issues.