People are drawn to the horror game genre for different reasons. For me, I enjoy the challenge of desperate survival in an eerie atmosphere and satisfying that “Why is something like this happening?” curiosity.
Fatal Frame is one of my favorite horror series because it creates that tense atmosphere and puts plenty of story behind even the minor ghosts in the game. It doesn’t overly rely on blood, gore, and shock value and it uses a camera as the main weapon adding the horror element of having to look through a lens for much of the time.
Many Fatal Frame games revolve around some ancient religious ritual that remained very secretive over the years and required some sort of human sacrifice. The purpose of the sacrifice generally relates to hell or the other side. Closing the gate to hell, keeping something from coming out of the other side, appeasing something from hell, etc. The sacrifice goes wrong because of the actions or feelings of the person being sacrificed and terrible consequences ensue.
The need for the rituals made me think about the importance of not only sacrifice but worthy sacrifice. In the games, the other side had to be continuously appeased and the smallest slip in purity or performance had dire consequences. Even when the rituals went absolutely right, they were horrific and needed to be performed again and again and again.
(Spoilers for first and third games below)
The Chamber of Thorns in the third game was an especially impactful scene. When Kei walks in, he finds the walls and floor of the room covered with impaled tattooed priestesses who were all sacrificed to keep back The Rift. Even though many sacrifices had already been made, the rituals continued. It was never enough. Also, the numerous sacrifices could not contain the mistake of one priestess, and The Rift was still released.
The situation was similar in first game with the repeated sacrifices needed, even with a perfect ritual. With one mishap, the rope shrine maiden was then required to hang across the gate to hell for all eternity to seal it.
Seeing those sacrifices naturally made me think about the one sacrifice central to Christianity, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
One sacrifice, one time, for all sins. Despite the extensive purity rituals used by the characters in the games, not one of them could make a human pure enough to do that.
For many people who believe in the spiritual realm and an after life, I think there can be intense feelings of helplessness and uncertainty connected to those things, especially the afterlife. Watching these characters give everything to try to feebly fight back the spiritual powers that be made me remember all over again the huge amount of hopeless desperation and crushing pressure that was removed when I accepted Jesus.
A few years ago, I reached a point in my life where I stopped and honestly asked myself, “Why Christianity?” I had seen so many people follow merely out of a cultural predisposition and I honestly wanted to know why I felt motivated to walk this way. What made Christianity my choice instead of Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca or any of the other religions I had seen. In the end, it came down to Jesus.
One thing I firmly believed in was the depravity of the human race. Our completely hopeless, desperate situation, or at least my completely hopeless, desperate situation. There were not enough prayers I could say, enough good deeds I could do, or enough positive thoughts and energy I could have to bring myself to a point where I felt I could stand before any god and say “I am good enough to enter heaven.” I can’t be good enough. I make so many mistakes, say and think hateful things, and take actions out of selfish, unreasonable motivations. If I am completely honest, my life as a whole is a few shining moments amid a sea of mistakes. If there was a human disciplined, loving and holy enough to get to heaven, it certainly wasn’t me. And I don’t believe there is one.
“as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
I don’t believe there is one except for Jesus.
Every other religion I’ve come across that has some semblance of a standard requires you to work your way to a good afterlife. Be pure enough, do enough good deeds. pay enough money, be detached enough from your desires, pray enough, etc. No other religion I’ve seen offers what Christians have in Jesus, which is good news for me because I know I can’t do, think, or be enough. Only Jesus is enough.
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”