Here we go with Fatal Frame 5: Third Drop Gameplay! The second drop was intense. But it looks like we’re jumping from Yuri to Ren Hojo. Ren, for those who might not remember from his very brief introduction in the first drop, was a man who commissioned Hisoka to find a photo album.

That album contained a photo of a girl he’s been seeing in his dream. But was it really a dream… or a memory?

Who are all these people?

Here’s a reminder of who each character is:

  • Ren Hojo – Ren is an author who lives with his assistant, Rui, at the base of Mt. Hikami. He often calls Hisoka Kurosawa to find things with her Shadow Reading.
  • Rui Kagamiya – is the assistant to Ren Hojo.
  • Hisoka Kurosawa – Owner of an antique shop, she’s also a talented shadow reader who’s able to find lost things and people. She vanished during on Mt. Hikami during the second drop while looking for a missing person.
  • Yuri Kozukata – one of the main protagonists. She attempted to commit suicide after the death of her family but was stopped by Hisoka. She now works for Hisoka in her antique store and is learning how to shadow read. She’s very sensitive to spirits.
  • Inn Keeper – We meet him during the prologue while Hisoka is looking for the photo album in the inn. His inn used to be popular but a landslide destroyed most of it and killed his family.

Let’s start!

We start off in Ren’s home, with Ren and Rui leafing through the photo album at the waterlogged inn. But as they turn the pages a photograph falls to the floor. Ren reaches for it and the woman in the photo turns to him.

“Will you die with me?”

Fatal Frame 5 Third Drop Gameplay: a photo of a shrine maiden that moves to stare at Ren.
Pretty enough to die for.

Ren is stunned but he’s the only one who sees, or hears, the woman’s ominous request.

To make matters worse, Ren decides that he wants to go back to the inn where the photo album was found in case there are more photos. With Rui and the Camera Obscura in tow, we head off.

Or we would if I wasn’t a lore hound. Taking a few moments to scrounge through Ren’s disorganized living room, we find a few documents. We find Ren’s unfinished manuscript first. It looks like he’s an anthropologist who specializes in Japanese memorial photograph. The next document is Hisoka’s evaluation of Ren’s camera. She’s an antique dealer but she also specializes in these occult cameras.

Ren’s Camera Obscura, she writes, is the only one she’s ever seen with a compound lens. But perhaps more important, owning a Camera Obscura invites misfortune into the life of the owner. Everyone who owns one has either died, lost their mind, or gone missing. With the Camera frequently outliving their owners.

That rings true, considering Hisoka vanished on Mt. Hikami last drop…

Digging into Ren’s impressive bookshelves we find a few interesting tidbits:

A book details how Mt. Hikami was the home of many shrine maidens. A man fell in love with one, but she refused his advances. In a rage, he butchered all the shrine maidens on the mountain he could find, tossing them into the river as he went.

The bodies of the shrine maidens turned the river red, and their corpses spilled into the Pool of Purification.

The spirits of the slaughtered shrine maidens are said to have haunted the mountain ever since, leading all who meet their gaze into the water, where they drown themselves.

Hmm. Seems very reminiscent of some of the cutscenes and notes we saw while exploring the forest.  

But after the shrine maidens were slaughtered the rituals being performed on Mt. Hikami ceased.

With no more lore to find, Ren and Rui head to the inn, just before sunset. Why is it always sunset?

Fatal Frame 5 Third Drop Gameplay: an image of Mt. Hikami as sun sets and night begins to descend.

“If you climb the mountain in the twilight hours, it’ll show you a different form. It’s true form. Only those who wish to die come here at that time.”

We arrive at the inn and – Nooooooo we have to do another tutorial. Apparently Ren’s compound camera is different from Hisoka’s. I desperately wish it’d just let me find out on the fly. But we can take multiple shots now. And while that’s cool, I’m so so so tired of tutorials.

At least Ren and Rui have better banter than Yuri and Hisoka. And Rui is very happy to provide ample exposition.

Tutorial done, we step inside the inn… we’re almost immediately met with a ghost. A drowned woman who stands, staring, at the end of the corridor. We turn down another hall, and a hatch on a duct slam close as we approach it.

I have a feeling that we’re not wanted here.

And yet the moment we turn around –

Fatal Frame 5 Third Drop Gameplay: a bunch of ghosts in a room of the inn. They're just vibing.
It’s a little ghost party!

An entire room of ghosts. That’s not good.

There seem to be even more than the first time we came here. Why are they all converging here? They vanish as soon as we snap a picture.

We work our way through the first floor, towards a glittering. It’s just herbal medicine. But as soon as we take it a spectral woman attacks us.

It’s an incredibly easy fight, and she dissipates into blue flame, apologizing. Now I kind of feel bad…

We get to the room where Hisoka originally found the album. Inside, the inn owner is waiting for us. He vanishes once we take a picture but where he stood is a crumpled note.

It’s a note he must have written when he was alive. In it, he laments that the mountain swallowed up half his inn. The only thing left is the album of postmortem photographs. This album is the last thing he has of his father, the last thing he has of his family.

He decides to burn the album and commit suicide upstairs, while watching the sunset. Sunset suicides – what a theme.

Let’s go upstairs!

We turn around to try and find our way upstairs but before we can get too far the ghosts we saw earlier lumber towards us, suddenly ready to fight.

Fatal Frame 5 Third Drop Gameplay: multi-ghost battle!
A school girl and a business woman?

I’ll be honest, the multi-shot function is really fun. It’s pretty brutal against packs.

We head upstairs, where we see the inn owner stumble, disoriented. He vanishes again but we’re getting closer.

We find a locked door and take a picture of it. The film shows us a picture of the hatch that closed on us when we first arrived. It’s a strange mechanic that’s been around since Fatal Framers early games… but if we want to open this door, we better investigate this hatch.

As we turn around, we find the inn manager hanging from the ceiling. But that’s strange, since we know he burned himself to death. He vanishes again and there’s another note.

The note reads that things on Mt. Hikami were always strange. A few years ago two girls went missing on the mountain, but only one returned, though she lost her mind. Since then, she’d return every year to look for her missing friend. Mt. Hikami has a way of making people disappear.

“My father disappeared on Mount Hikami. Will it take me too? And will anyone look for me…?”

Heading downstairs we find the hatch which generously opens for us. It seems like a bad idea to stick our hand in it, but Ren does it anyway, and pulls out a key hidden between the pipes.

Finally, we can unlock that door!

But the moment Ren turns around he’s assaulted by the ghost that attacked Yuri in the first Drop. And he’s a little stronger than he was in that tutorial battle. He collapses and we poke his collapsing ether for a few extra spirit points.

Things are heating up…

Mostly unscathed we head towards the door upstairs. But as we cross the corridor towards it the windows in front of us shatter— and the hung inn keeper bursts through.

It’s more silly than spooky.

Fatal Frame 5 Third Drop Gameplay: the inn keeper's spirit bursts through the window.
That’s an entrance, I guess.

To be honest, I’m a little tired of seeing the inn keeper everywhere. Like… we get it. You’re dead and upset about it. Anyway, Ren photo battles him, but now the inn keeper has shards of glass in him. Rui stands there, staring at you vaguely concerned. Occasionally she walks through the inn keeper, utterly baffled by the events unfolding all around her.

It’s by far the hardest fight during the drop, as he’ll occasionally vanish only to drop on your from above. But once we’re done, we touch his spirit fire and we’re overcome with a vision (cutscene).

Ren sees the inn keeper stands on top of the inn at the roof’s edge, noose around his neck. But this isn’t a man who’s committed to death—he’s terrified. A ghastly pale woman grabs his ankles from below, staring up at him with the most unearthly, hellish expression. He screams and falls, hitting the glass which shattered right before the boss fight. He hangs there, and the spectral woman who startled him into falling stands within the inn, staring at her handiwork.

A woman dressed in black scares the inn keeper into jumping.
I would’ve killed for this look in high school.

But as the inn keeper’s spiritual essence vanishes, he sighs, “Now I can meet them again.”

He’s surely talking about his family who passed all those decades ago. So was he trapped here? By exorcising his spirit, did we free him?

If that’s the case, we’re essentially doing good deeds by kicking ghost ass.

There’s a note, left where we defeated the inn keeper.

Mt. Hikami was once known as the Grove of Shrine Maidens, where mountain maidens oversaw the deaths of pilgrims, easing their passing to the other side.

“I like that. I envy it. I wish someone would be there to see me off,” the note ends.

Looks like that ghostly woman came to grant his wish.

Outside the window, the woman who is perpetually falling off the cliff falls to her death. I’m pretty sure it’s her, anyway. Same white dress, same scream.

We head to the observation room, where a hung woman greets us. Who’s she?? She vanishes once we snap her photo.

There’s another locked door, so let’s skip that for now and go to the other door, which leads to the inn roof.

The roof…

the inn keeper contemplates suicide

It’s the innkeeper. Didn’t we exorcise him? Is he still stuck in his eternal loop? Other ghosts have mentioned dissolving and melting. He jumps, and there’s another note. 

“The sunset beckons. It’s calling me into the water. This is the right thing to do.”

Hmm. Was the innkeeper influenced by the mountain to kill himself?

There’s a room up here, and I’ll be honest the architecture of this inn has me completely confused. But the room is all burned up, and now I remember why we’re here. To look for the postmortem photographs the inn keeper supposedly burned.

We enter the burnt room and see the inn keeper staring at something. Rui tells us there must have been a fire. Thanks, Rui.

We take a photo, and the Camera Obscura brings something to light. The photo album we came here for.

Behind us, Rui goes to contemplate the noose and the edge, slipping the noose over his head.

We slow jog to Rui and snap a picture to see a woman from the Netherworld behind him.

Boss Fight!

Boss fight, let’s go. We have to exorcise her before she kills Rui. Or gets Rui to kill herself. She floats around, accompanied by the sound of a swinging noose. It’s a gruesome sound, perhaps the creepiest thing in the whole drop.

This fight is much harder, but we eventually catch the final Fatal Frame and Rui faints, falling back from the edge.

Ren steadies Rui but before we can finally, finally leave another Maiden arrives.

A maiden arrives and she doesn't want us to leave.
Another one???

You will dissolve into nothing.”

Fuck. It’s another fight. Ae these Maidens going to show up at the end of every drop?

As we fight her, the reassures her we can: “Show it to her.” “I can see into your soul.”

The only good thing is that she goes down easily. Way easier than the woman who almost got Rui.

There’s one more note. The postmortem album was compiled by folklorist Keiji Watarai, who moved to the base of Mt. Hikami to study the rituals there. The inn keeper’s father helped find photos for the album.

But Keiji became fascinated with how water was revered on Mt. Hikami. So, he built a house on the mountain itself. Shortly thereafter, he vanished. And search parties were unable to find even the path to the folklorist’s house.

Only the photo album was recovered, which the inn keeper’s father took it back to the inn. But shortly thereafter, he, too, started acting strangely and vanished.

“I’d forgotten about the photos until I found them in the old building, after the landslide. But now I understand why my father left. Watarai, too. These photos are so beautiful.”

Like the Camera Obscura, it seems like this photo album leads people to mysterious ends. It seems these photos are cursed. I wonder if Ren is next in line. But Ren and Rui survive the night and return home, scathed, traumatized, and full of questions.

Final Thoughts on Fatal Frame 5: Third Drop Gameplay

So, if I had to give a score for Fatal Frame 5: Third Drop Gameplay it’d have to be 3 Cthulhu heads out of 5. And that might be a little generous.

I’m personally tired of the inn and seeing the same ghosts. Particularly the inn keeper. It felt like recycled content. If we had to go back to the inn to collect story-necessary lore, I wonder if that lore couldn’t have been compiled in Hisoka’s notes, during the Second Drop?

Also there were way too many hanging ghosts. Just, constant nooses, everywhere. Spooky the first time! So very unspooky the fifteenth time.

Approximate Playtime: 1 hour.