Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, is a Japanese survival horror video game developed and published by Tecmo in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. It is the second installment in the Fatal Frame series, and features an independent story with little relation to the first title. The story follows twin sisters Mia and Mayu Amakura as they explore an abandoned village and experience encounters with the paranormal. Their lives quickly become threatened when the village spirits begin to possess Mayu and target them as sacrifices for an ancient ritual. Players must use a camera with powers of exorcism to defeat enemies and uncover the secrets of the village.
Development of Fatal Frame II began shortly after the completion of the first title. Because many players were too frightened to finish the original, Tecmo made the sequel's story more interesting to encourage players to see it through and finish the game. Despite this, horror was still the central focus of the game. Director Makoto Shibata kept the perpetual nature of spirits in mind during development. Ghosts reappearing in different locations, and being able to feel their presence even after their death were characteristics Shibata felt were indicative of a horror scenario.
Upon release, Fatal Frame II received positive reviews, and is widely considered to be among the scariest video games ever made. An Xbox port, subtitled Director's Cut, was released in 2004 and included improved visuals, audio, and new gameplay modes. The game has also been re-released on the PlayStation 3 via PSN in 2013, and a remake of the game titled Project Zero 2: Wii Edition was released for the Wii in 2012 in Europe and Japan.
The plot of Fatal Frame II is independent from the first game in the series. During the Amakura twins' visit to their favorite childhood playspot in the Minakami region, Mayu follows a mysterious red butterfly deep into the woods. Mio, concerned for her older sister, follows, and they soon discover a village at night. While it seems abandoned, the twins soon realize that the village contains the tortured souls of the dead, forever reliving the events that trapped them in this state.
Mayu soon falls under the village's spell and is led deeper into the village by the butterflies. As Mio searches for her, she slowly learns of the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual, the failure of which caused the "Repentance", a disaster which shrouded the village in darkness. The village houses a system of tunnels underneath, where its deepest point is home to the "Hellish Abyss", a deep hole that collects the souls of the dead. To keep the Abyss from unleashing the dead, a pair of twins born in the village are required to perform a ritual approximately every decade, in which the elder twin strangles the younger, after which the soul of the younger twin stays to guard the village as a crimson butterfly.
In the past, before the Repentance occurred, twins Yae and Sae Kurosawa tried to escape their fate with Itsuki's help. During their escape, Sae was caught and brought back to the village, while Yae escaped. The Minakami villagers desperately hanged Sae to try to satisfy the Hellish Abyss; the attempt failed, causing the Repentance to occur and the village to disappear. During the Repentance, Sae returned from the Hellish Abyss as a vengeful spirit and, along with Seijiro Makabe, made a Kusabi for the Abyss, slaughtering the priests and villagers. Throughout the game, several ghosts refer to Mio as Yae and seem to expect her to perform the ritual with Mayu, who becomes possessed by Sae. Itsuki, however, tries to help her—believing the two to be the Kurosawa twins, he tries to aid their escape from the village again.
Near the end of the game, when Mio learns that in Minakami Village, the twin born second is considered the elder, as the village believes that the "elder" lets the weaker, "younger" twin be born first. This completely reverses Mio's implied fate: instead of being sacrificed herself, she must strangle her "younger" twin sister. When Mio and Mayu finally begin escaping, the villagers' spirits take Mayu back to the Kurosawa house, where the Hellish Abyss awaits them below. Should the player choose to take the escape route alone, they will obtain the Lingering Scent ending, which leads to an automatic game over. If the player instead chooses to pursue Mayu, they have a chance to obtain the other endings. The "Crimson Butterfly" ending sees Mio and Mayu proceeding with the ritual, where Mayu becomes a crimson butterfly. The "Hellish Abyss" ending sees Mio rescuing Mayu from Sae, only to become permanently blinded from looking into the Hellish Abyss. The "Promise Ending", added to the Director's Cut version, sees Yae and Sae performing the ritual and freeing the villagers' spirits, thus sparing Mio and Mayu of the ritual. According to the events of Fatal Frame III: The Tormented, the direct sequel of the game, the "Crimson Butterfly" ending is the canonical ending.