How to play the Fatal Frame games in timeline order

Take pictures of ghosts in chronological order.

Image via Koei Tecmo

A story that spans over two centuries, the Fatal Frame series is full of mysteries, ghosts, and death. With many plotlines to follow, one can easily get lost if they would follow the games by their release date. The games can jump around here and there, so a little help with the chronological order is what most of us need. To make the story easier to understand, here are all the Fatal Frame games, in their timeline order.

The Fatal Frame games in chronological order

Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (1980)

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The first one chronologically speaking, Fatal Frame IV: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, is the only game in the series that didn’t have a western release, only being playable in Japanese for the Wii. However, fans of the story can rejoice at the news that a Nintendo Switch remastered version might come in 2023. In regards to the story, this time we have four protagonists that come to solve the mystery of their friends’ deaths. Five girls were kidnapped 10 years before the events of this game and managed to escape. Now, two of them have died in mysterious ways, and the remaining three head over to the mansions where they were kidnapped to solve this mystery, along with the detective that rescued them in the past.

Fatal Frame: Based on a True Story (1986)

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The original Fatal Frame is based in 1986, a few years after the events of Fatal Frame IV. The games are completely unrelated besides the antagonists of the games being ghosts and the use of a camera to uncover secrets. Fatal Frame starts with the players controlling Mafuyu Hinasaki. He decides to explore an alleged haunted mansion along with his “special” camera that can capture images of the dead. For the rest of the Fatal Frame, gamers will play as his sister, Miku, as she comes to the mansion two weeks later in search of her brother.

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly / Project Zero: Deep Crimson Butterfly (1988)

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The players follow twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura that have ventured, following a Crimson Butterfly, to a cursed village known as the Lost Village. They find Camera Obscura, a camera with the same special obscure abilities as the one from the first Fatal Frame, and Mio uses it to fight the old villager ghosts and save her sister from the main antagonist of the game, Sae. A remastered Wii version came out in 2012 that added to the game two different new endings and improved the gameplay mechanics.

Fatal Frame III: The Tormented (1988)

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The first game in the series with multiple stories and playable protagonists, Fatal Frame III: The Tormented happens just two months after the events of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. This is also the game that ties all the stories together, as both Miku Hinasaki from the first game and the uncle of Mio and Mayu Amakura appear as playable protagonists. The story starts with Rei Kurosawa, a photographer, who sees his dead fiance in a dream and follows him to a haunted mansion. After this event, she wakes up with a cursed tattoo and finds out that her assistant, Miku Hinasaki, also has one. They both venture in their dreams to this haunted mansion to solve the mystery of the tattoo.

Fatal Frame V / Project Zero: Maiden of Black Water (2006)

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Fatal Frame V: Maiden of Black Water takes place in a region inspired by the Suicide Forest in Japan and is the largest playable area in the series. The game is a Wii U exclusive, so if you want to play it, you will need to get your hands on one. The story follows around three different protagonists, one of which being the daughter of Miku Hinasaki from the first Fatal Frame. It seems she is missing and her daughter, Miu, hopes to find her with the help of Hisoka Kurosawa. They both however disappear as they explore Mount Hikami.