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Video Game / Fatal Frame III

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The American cover featuring Rei

Fatal Frame III: The Tormented is the third entry of Fatal Frame Survival Horror series created by Tecmo.

Rei Kurosawa was on a photography assignment at the Kuze Manor, and noticed that an image of her dead fiancé was caught in one of her photos. While confused and still grieving over his death, she begins to dream of following him into a large mansion. Inside the mansion, she gets touched by a ghost and notices that a blue tattoo has appeared there in the real world.

Every night has her dreaming of that mansion again, desperately trying to find her way around in it and running after her dead fiancé's spirit, wanting to be reunited with him. But the tattoo spreads further over her body after every night, and she has her assistant, Miku Hinasaki, investigate rumors about the so-called Tattoo Curse.


Rei realizes that she is trapped inside that mansion, just like every other person that ends up subjected to the Tattoo Curse. This includes Miku Hinasaki and Kei Amakura, a friend of her fiancé's, whose dreams she can sometimes experience alongside them.

The game was released on the PS2 in 2005.

Fatal Frame III contains the following Tropes

  • All Crimes Are Equal: Breaking any part of the Kuze Code results in death.
  • All There in the Manual: The Zero 3 Comic Anthology is considered canon, and includes background information of some patients, priestesses, and the twins that help out Kei in the game. It also spoofs itself by including various parody stories.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Certain parts of the game has the player control Miku or Kei.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Zero can be read as Rei, with one of its meaning being Ghost.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Reika and Kaname are sent onward, with the spirits of the other deceased moving on, too. Rei and Yuu get one final moment together at the Rift, but Yuu cannot come back to life and he insists that Rei continue to live on. Rei and Miku, and Kei in the Good Ending, learn to keep on living, despite their painful losses.
  • Boring, but Practical: Miku's Camera Obscura only has the Sacred Stone and Double as combat functions. This doesn't stop her from potentially being the strongest character in the game.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Rei awakens from the night spent in the Manor of Sleep this way. It serves as a mechanic to show that the "Hour" of the game has been completed, and the game is progressing. The cutscene also shows the advancement of her Holly Tattoo.
  • Cat Scare: After having a dream about a ghost encounter in the attic, the protagonist can go downstairs and open a closet, at which point Miku's cat will leap out.
  • Continuity Nod: This game connects the previous games, as the playable characters include the protagonist from the first game and the uncle of the protagonists from the second game. The events of the previous two games are frequently referenced, with their sections of the manor including rooms from Himuro mansion and Minakami village, and establishing a running timeline.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • The Tattoo Priestess gets her body covered in tattoos as she takes on more and more pain from other people, until everything is covered up and she cannot take on anymore. Then she gets staked alive in the Chamber of Thorns and left to 'sleep'.
    • And Tattoo Priestesses that end up failing have their tattooed skin ripped off and left inside the Kuze Manor to be worshipped, while the priestess' body is sent onward.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Mafuyu staying with Kirie and Mayu dying are made the clear, canon ending for the previous two games, respectively.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The camera button was mapped to the Triangle button, rather than the Square button as it had been done previously. And this game was exclusively released to the PS2, giving the player no chance to avoid this problem when switching from the other games.
  • Darkest Hour: The beginning of Hour XIII, rather fittingly, is when things have started to seriously go downhill for the heroes. The Tattooed Curse is rapidly spreading, Miku and Kei have been rendered comatose (in a first playthrough, Kei is already dead), and Rei is the only one left who can stop Reika and try to put an end to the sheer suffering everyone has endured.
  • Death Seeker: A shared aspect of those afflicted by the Tattoo Curse.
  • Downer Beginning: The game opens up with a cutscene of Rei crawling on the ground after the car accident, and seeing her fiancé's dead body caught under the wrecked vehicle.
  • The Dragon: Yashuu Kuze was the matriarchal leader of the Kuze shrine and does her best to block the way to the Abyss and the Chamber of Thorns.
  • Dub Name Change: The Japanese subtitle was The Voice of the Tattoo, but was changed into The Tormented for the localized version.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: To obtain the Good Ending of the game, the player must manage to find a certain item on a consecutive playthrough, with very little in-game hints that this item is even available to obtain.
  • Enfant Terrible: The three Handmaidens relish in their cruel duties.
  • Eye Scream: The Engravers had their eyes gouged out and rope threaded through the holes.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Rei's house has three stories, three bedrooms and work rooms, and is at least 2000 square feet large. A young couple like Rei and Yuu, who were a freelance photographer and academic, respectively, wouldn't be able to afford that in a low-cost area of America, much less in the legendarily high-priced Japanese housing market.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Reika was an average woman living in a village, and got adopted into the Kuze household after her family died. She was chosen to become a Tattoo Priestess, but when the Holly Tattoo entered her eyes, she unleashed the horrors of the Rift upon the mansion, and traps anyone longing for their deceased loved ones into the Manor of Sleep.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Women like Rei and Miku have a stronger sixth sense, meaning they can inflict more damage with the Camera Obscura. And men like Kei are the only ones that have the physical strength to push a dresser or a bookshelf out of the way.
  • Happy Ending Override: This game shows the aftermath of what happened to Mio after the events of Fatal Frame II. Mio is left racked with guilt over the death of Mayu, and the police are looking to question her about Mayu's disappearance. Turns out that defeating the final boss and laying a town to rest doesn't mean mental trauma will automatically disappear. When Kei locates Mio in the dream she's still agonizing over Mayu's death.
  • Haunted House: The Manor of Sleep, crawling with ghosts and vengeful spirits.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Miku and Rei have this relationship.
  • Hope Spot: Near the end of the game, Kei arrives and tells Rei that he's found a way to stop the Tattoo Curse for good. He plans to enter the Chamber of Thorns and stake Reika to the ground. Unfortunately, when he enters the chamber and sees that she's already staked, he realizes his research and attempt were futile. If this is the first playthrough, Kei is doomed.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter is called an 'Hour'.
  • Idiot Ball: The protagonists know that something otherworldly and lethal is going on, and that they have a genuine piece of anti-ghost technology in the house, that they even know how to use, not one of them thinks of trying to fix the Camera Obscura in Yuu's room in an attempt to resist or even cure the Tattoo Curse.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The dresser cannot be moved by Rei or Miku, leaving them to be incapable of exploring a part of the mansion until Kei has moved it out of the way with his physical strength. There's also a point when Rei looks at a gap between two roofs and says that she cannot jump it, but Kei can.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The Handmaidens' song talks about the impalement and continued torture of the Tattoo Priestess. It includes a more melancholic, serene phrase of sending the priestess onwards and easing her pain upon completing her duties, though the phrase has been lost to time.
  • It's All About Me: The reason for the rituals of putting tattoos onto the priestesses was to have them take on the pain of others, so they wouldn't have to feel it themselves.
  • Madness Mantra: Yoshino Takigawa can be heard muttering one.
    "If only I had died, too. If only I had died, too! It's not my fault that I'm the only one who survived! I should have been taken. I didn't survive because I wanted to! I-I had no choice. I didn't survive because I wanted to, I had no choice. So if I had died with everyone else... yes! Yes! If I had died with everyone else..."
  • Malevolent Architecture: Kuze Manor was purposefully built with a layout that puzzled those investigating it.
  • Multiple Endings
    • Normal Ending: Complete the game on any difficulty. Rei sends Reika and Kaname onward, and she meets Yuu at the Abyss. He takes on her tattoo and tells her to keep on living. Rei and Miku awaken from their nightmares and are free from the curse, but Kei is dead and it's implied that Mio has also died from the Tattooed Curse.
    • Alternate Ending: Only available on New Game Plus. Complete the game on any difficulty, but the player must have found the Echo Stone Earring while playing as Kei. The events of the ending are the same, except that Kei never died when Reika confronted him in the Chamber of Thorns. He survives and awakens, with the credits showing that Mio has also survived and gets to meet Rei and Miku. According to official reading material, this is the canon ending and makes this one of the rare games that end on a happy note.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the unlocked costumes for Miku is her outfit from the first game. But it's based on the original look, which made it abundantly clear that it's a highschool uniform, and not the altered appearance that most Western players were used to.
  • Never Mess with Granny
    • Yashuu Kuze ran the Kuze household with an iron fist, and remains one of the toughest ghosts to defeat, often getting in the way of letting the protagonists get close to the Abyss.
    • The Stroller Grandma can easily One-Hit Kill, though she also goes down with a shot or two.
  • Never Sleep Again: Miku researches the Tattoo Curse and notes that the advanced stage includes the target not waking up anymore, until they vanish into an ashen outline.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kaname wanted to see Reika one last time and snuck into the Chamber of Thorns. He wakes Reika up just as Yashuu Kuze sneaks up from behind and kills him for violating the shrine's rules. Reika reacted to this by having the Holly enter her eyes and unleashing the Rift upon the manor.
  • No Canon for the Wicked: This is the first of the games where the canon ending is the best one. Both Mio and Miku have their canon ending be the bittersweet (normal and Crimson Butterfly respectively). However, as Mio appears in the fifth game, the good ending of number 3 is officially canon.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Manor of Sleep includes rooms that connect it with parts of Himuro mansion and various buildings from Minakami village.
  • One-Hit Kill
    • Stroller Grandma has her only attack be one, though she only appears in certain locations and can be avoided, if the player knows to go through those locations early, before she appears.
    • Whenever Reika appears, getting touched by her means a Game Over. Especially bad near the end of the game, when the miasma penetrates the whole mansion and the Blue Candles are required to purify the air temporarily. During her battle, she has an attack of turning the whole environment dark and then lunging towards Rei. This attack is an instant Game Over if it connects.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Kaname's Echo Stone Earring.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Said multiple times by various people. Mio says this to Mayu's spirit in the mansion and Miku to Mafuyu's spirit. Rei begs Yuu to not leave her behind at the Abyss, and Kei can be heard talking in his sleep about his nieces and best friends, Mafuyu and Yuu, leaving him.
  • Run or Die
    • Kei initially doesn't have a Camera Obscura, so the player must sneak around the Kuze manor and hide in designated spots, until he finds one and can defend himself against ghosts.
    • When The Kusabi appears in the Minakami village section of the game, the player can choose to fight him because he's no longer a One-Hit Kill as in the previous game, but it's not necessary. There is one short time where the player must run from him, and that's when Kei first meets him because the camera doesn't work on him. But it's sometimes a good idea to defeat The Kusabi, since he tends to spawn in narrow hallways that don't work in the player's favor.
  • Schmuck Bait: Kyouka Kuze, also known as the Hair Brushing Woman, can be seen as a silhouette behind a partition wall. Taking a picture of her causes her to spawn practically in front of Kei, and she needs to be defeated.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Averted with Yuu telling Rei that she shouldn't die, but live on.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: People who die from the Tattoo Curse vanish into an ashen outline.
  • Shoot the Builder: The Carpenters were turned into Sacrificial Pillars after completing work on the Kuze shrine. Six of them were not willing to and had to be chased down and killed.
  • Shout-Out: Rei encounters a ghost in her attic, accessed via the roof of her closet.
  • Shower of Awkward: Rei notices someone at the bathroom door while she's taking a shower, but it turns out that it's not Miku, as she initially believed, but one of the Engravers. Fortunately, the ghost doesn't harm her, but the experience leaves Rei feeling uneasy.
  • Snow Means Death: The Manor of Sleep is perpetually snowy.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The normal ending has the Tattoo Curse killing Mio Amakura. Though this ending isn't considered canon, and the character survives in the alternate ending.
  • Survivor's Guilt: The main aspect that brings people into the Manor of Sleep and gets them afflicted with the Tattoo Curse. They have survived while their loved ones didn't, and their guilt and grief over this causes them to eventually dream of the manor, running after the spectral image of their beloved.
  • Tempting Fate: Rei and Miku have this conversation in the opening scene.
    Rei: I heard this house was haunted... too bad it's not.
    Miku: Rumors are just rumors.
  • Theme Naming: Many of the characters have the kanji meaning "rain" in their names, such as Yuu and Amane.
  • Together in Death: Reika and Kaname. They have been lying next to each other in the Chamber of Thorns for a long time, though it wasn't meant to be seen as a positive version. In the ending, Rei sends the two of them onward, allowing them to properly rest next to each other.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Any person afflicted with the Tattoo Curse had a traumatic experience that left them to survive, while their loved ones died. With their grief and guilt making them susceptible to the Tattoo Curse, they end up wandering the Manor of Sleep in their nightmares and follow the spirits of their loved ones around, with the tattoo spreading further and further. Some die from the curse.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Amane Kuze allowed Kaname to see Reika, despite the latter having been staked in the Chamber of Thorns. Letting this happen had the end result of the Holly entering Reika's eyes and unleashing the Rift upon the manor.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Kei arrives at Rei's house and informs her that he's found a way to stop the Tattoo Curse for good, which would save them and allow Miku to wake up again. Then Kei enters the Chamber of Thorns in his nightmares and sees that Reika is already staked, which he thought would be the thing to end the curse. Then he either gets killed by her or put into a deep sleep.
  • You Are Not Alone: Rei begs Miku to remember this as she's running after her brother's spirit.

Alternative Title(s): Fatal Frame III The Tormented