Using the augmented reality features of the Nintendo 3DS, Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir brings the spookiness of the Project Zero series into your own home, literally.
Using the cameras and gyro sensors, the 3DS console becomes the famed Camera Obscura, a spiritual camera capable of exorcising ghosts using multiple lenses. The game also comes with an AR book, which takes the form of the cursed diary.
There are three main gameplay modes; Story, Spirit Camera and Cursed Pages. The latter two are a collection of mini games. Spirit Camera mode uses only the 3DS cameras while Cursed Pages makes use of the AR booklet as well.
The story mode involves the player being spirited away to a strange house after looking through a mysterious diary. There you meet up with a ghostly maiden named Maya, who is also trapped within the diary, and learn of the woman in black who is responsible for trapping people and stealing their faces.
After making your escape from the woman in black, the two get transported back into the real world, and from there on begins the journey through the diary in order to solve the mystery behind the woman in black and the cursed book.
The story is broken up into chapters, but each chapter feels very formulaic. They all start with you having to find Maya, talk to her for a bit, and then scan some pages of the diary, ending up in a boss battle.
The boss fights are easily one of the highlights of the game however, operating in a similar manner as the main series.
The ghosts move around you in 3D space and you have to turn around in order to get them in focus. Keeping the ghosts in focus builds up spiritual energy and results in more damage dealt when the shot is finally taken while attacks are deflected by well-timed shots before they hit you.
There are 13 chapters in total and it lasts around 3 hours, which is quite short, though a New Game + and a Photo Ops mode are unlocked after completing the story. Photo Ops allows you to view character models from the game using augmented reality and take photos of them, much like the built-in AR software on the 3DS console. It also allows boss battles on hard and extreme difficulties.
The Spirit Camera mode has three minigames that use only the camera. The first two are more like simple applications than actual minigames.
The first involves overlaying random ghastly images onto photos taken of your surroundings, and the second shows what type of spirit is haunting whoever's face you photograph. The third option in this mode has you battling against a ghost whose stats are based off a photo of someone's face.
The final game mode, Cursed Pages, consists of four minigame challenges, with two being available from the start.
These games are timed versions of minigames found in the main storyline and have four difficulties each, as well as an endless mode. They're quite easy and the difficulties were beaten on their first try.
While the AR works well and adds an extra dimension to the game, it becomes practically unplayable in low-light situations. The reliance on light also takes away from its haunting atmosphere, though the game tries to resolve this by darkening the world you see through the screen. The 3D effect has also been toned down a lot due to the constant moving the players would be doing while playing.
Audio is well done and the voice acting is great in both English and Japanese, but not all the dialogue is voiced. Sometimes it seems like lines to be voiced were just chosen at random.
In the end, Spirit Camera delivers a unique experience, albeit very short. It presents a very interesting concept as well as new gameplay ideas but lacks depth. Ultimately, it's worth a play if you can find it cheap.
Score: 6.5 out of 10