Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Review

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir (Available exclusively on the 3DS)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Tecmo
Release Date: April 13, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Spirit Camera T for teen because of blood and violence.

Plays Like: An on-rails horror adventure game… if that makes any sense.

Review Basis: Completed the game.

The Great:

You’ve never played anything like Spirit Camera! It’s survival horror through a camera lens. Like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield, you play as though filming a documentary. It’s not the setup per se, but rather the implementation that brings you into the adventure. While missing a few opportunities, Spirit Camera is hopefully the birth of a brand-new genre. It has tremendous potential.

The Good:

+ You’re the protagonist. You don’t control a character; the bad guys want you! Spirit Camera takes place in your house! (or wherever you decide to play…. imagine in an abandoned house in the woods or something) You can’t play lying down; you must constantly move around and find spirits or clues. It’s linear (on-rails), but brings a few interesting puzzles thanks to the included AR book. You need to scan the pages to solve riddles or find new ghosts to progress.

+ Fantastic gyroscope support and 3D. It really felt like Maya (the game’s main spirit) was right next to me in my apartment. Plus, the voice acting isn’t bad, creating a unique experience. Again, you’ll enjoy some awesome effects thanks to the AR booklet.  For example, at one point blood drips from the ceiling. Look up for a little surprise!

+ Great, though simple storyline. The T rating somewhat surprises me; there’s quite a few gory and disturbing parts. Most of the events take place in dark areas or off-camera, but Spirit Camera could’ve easily been M. The twist is predictable, but the quest is enjoyable nonetheless.

+ Combat. It’s not as bad as I was led to believe. A game couldn’t be made from it, but I’ve always loved camera games like Beyond Good & Evil or Pokémon Snap. Spirit Camera is actually part of the Fatal Frame series, which I’ve sadly yet to play. To kill bad guys, you must take pictures of them. It’s that simple. Twists are added later, but they’re not complicated, with the exception of the final boss. I had fun constantly moving to look for a creature and snap shots of it. Call me crazy, but I like that. Would I play a 15-hour game with this mechanic? Probably not, but this brief journey wasn’t tiresome.

The Bad:

– Short. I don’t mind short games, but two or three hours of play doesn’t justify the $39.99 price. There’s a “New Game+” which is basically Hard mode and some extras, but replaying isn’t very tempting. It’s on-rails, short, and you probably won’t want to re-experience everything.

– Multiple-choice questions that don’t matter. Occasionally, Maya asks you a three-option question. I thought my answers would affect the ending or something, but I discovered later that the game forces you to pick the correct answer. Lame!

– Missed opportunities. Spirit Camera starts well in making you explore a freaky old mansion. Like I said before, you feel “there” and expect monsters to pop out at any moment. Soon you’re taken from that location and never return. I think the game would’ve been better if it stayed in that house. I believe an awesome survival-horror game can be made with this system.

The Lowdown:

I applaud Nintendo and Tecmo’s effort to bring us a unique experience on the 3DS. I had a blast and hope to see more. Still, there’s work to do if a sequel is ever made. $40 for three hours of play is pushing it, and variety was needed. If you want an original 3DS title and don’t mind low replay value, Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir is one to consider.

Final Score: 7.0/10

3 thoughts on “Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Review”

  1. This actually sounds like it could have been something special. The asking price seems a little steep though, for what limited content you describe here. Had this been a digital download of come in at a reduced cost I might have actually checked this out. I love how the developer blurs the line between the videogame world and your own house. That’s ultra cool.

  2. I’m really glad you wrote a review for this game! I’ve been very curious about it, the concept seems so interesting that I can’t help but want to play it. Some sites were incredibly harsh on it (Destructoid gave it a 1 out of 10, I think), but I like that the developer wanted to take advantage of the system’s augmented reality features more. I wish more developers will do things with it, whether it’s for full retail releases or download games (both, preferably).

  3. I don’t blame some of the media that’s been harsh on this game. For 40$, you’re not getting much. For me however, it was such a unique experience that I felt it was worth playing through at least once. But that’s just me. I just hope that somebody somewhere makes an entire game using this system.

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