Title: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
Developer: 5pb Games, XSEED
Game Type: PlayStation Portable
Download: 1.1 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
As I stated not too long ago, the PS Vita doesn’t have a whole lot of horror games at its disposal, and most of those are backwards-compatible games. You can fill your Vita up with games like Resident Evil 1-3, Silent Hill, and Parasite Eve, but it doesn’t natively have many horror titles, as of yet. However, as I stated in the last horror-based review, there are a few horror titles coming to the Vita later this year, notably Corpse Party: Blood Drive.
Knowing the series, it is again worth noting that Blood Drive is not a standalone game. It is the third game is a story-focused trilogy, and is only to be played after playing through the previous two games, which are also playable on the PS Vita (and PSTV). As a follow-up to my retro review of the original game, here is my official review of the second game in the Heavenly Host saga, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows!
The plot of Book of Shadows is very difficult to explain because part of the game is canon and some of the game is not. For example, the intro to the game’s title menu as well as the secret 8th Chapter take place after the events of Corpse Party and are a prologue to the events of this year’s Blood Drive, but the other parts of the game are a mix of background histories for some of the characters from the original game and a non-canon alternate universe.
The game’s chapters is mostly made up of a plot continuation for one of the option endings of the first game, where everyone involved in Corpse Party enter a time loop, where they re-live their time at Heavenly Host Elementary with subtle memories of what happened to them, and therefore are adamant about changing the events that are about to unfold. Other chapters pop up that are canon and take place during and before the original game, showing backstories for characters such as Naomi, Seiko, Yui, Naho, Hibiki, and others.
Regardless of the story’s confusing blend of canon and non-canon events, Book of Shadows still delivers in the department of chilling plot twists. There are many twists and turns that the game forces you to experience that are jaw-dropping and will tug hard at your heartstrings as you remember the events and hope and pray for a better turnout. The inclusion of more CG artwork scenes makes these experience all the more tense.
Unlike the first game, Book of Shadows is a visual novel with adventure and puzzle elements, rather than an adventure game with puzzle elements. As you play through the game, there will be some light HUD-based exploration. However, the majority of the game will be going through the story like you would in a visual novel.
You will be going through the game via chapters, just like you did the first game, though story will be leading you on for the majority of the game. Some chapters are strictly story without exploration, though most of the chapters do allow you to have a fair bit of interaction and puzzle-solving to help get the crew from Kisaragi High School through the treacherous walls of Heavenly Host Elementary.
Interaction comes in the form of dialogue choice, grid-based movement, and first-person investigation. Every so often, you will get a dialogue choice of what you can do. These choices can and will affect a lot in the game. Many of the situations will have one choice leading to the true ending that takes you to the next story section and another choice which will lead you to a bad ending where your character will be brutally murdered.
The nice thing this time around is that you don’t have to run around for a candle to save your game. In favor of all of these different choices and endings you can get, you are able to pull up the menu and save the game any time you wish. Whenever a dialogue choice pops up, you can just tap Triangle and save and not worry about choosing the wrong choice.
The grid-based movement shows a first-person view of the room or hall you’re in and you move along a Grid on a HUD from hallway to hallway and room to room. You move around in this manner to find rooms and look to see where clues and items are that you need. Finally, investigation is where you have a pointer you move around and look at objects or people, which is very similar to how investigations work in Danganronpa.
All in all, the game isn’t nearly as hard as the first game was. Since there are no timer-based events and all of the major choices are dialogue options, you shouldn’t have an immense amount of trouble getting the good endings, though it is worth noting that it is difficult to unlock the secret Chapter 8 without importing save data from the first game into Book of Shadows.
Surprisingly enough, Book of Shadows is quite long, despite being mostly story scenes with light exploration. Playing through each chapter once, and not account for replaying chapters for different endings, the game should take you about 12-15 hours to progress through. This is assuming you import save data for Chapter 8, otherwise, that number will be substantially higher with going back and replaying chapters for other endings.
The controls for the game are simple enough to get used to. Being a PSP game, it doesn’t use the touch screen, but does extend L and R to L2 and R2 on the PSTV. Regarding the PlayStation TV, I’ve found the controls with using L2 in particular to be especially more comfortable than using L on the PS Vita.
You can move the pointer as well as moving around menus with the D-Pad and Left Analog Stick. The L Trigger is used to pull up the Grid Map and the R Trigger is used for fast-forwarding through dialogue during a scene. X is used to select options or options, Triangle is used to pull up the Menu, Circle is used to pause dialogue, and Square is used to pull up the Message Log. Last, Select toggles Auto-Play and Start will advance to the next dialogue sequence automatically.
The controls aren’t hard to use, but the game makes no effort to show you how to use them. When I hit my first grid exploration I had no idea what to do. I just started pressing buttons over and over until I finally realized that the L trigger opened up the map I needed.
The visual presentation is about the same as the previous game. The visuals still look nice, but there’s a noticeable blurring effect on the transition to the Vita and PlayStation TV. It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t look wonderful, either.
The biggest thing you need to worry about is saving your game. I had a couple save games set me back in the game. One in particular from Chapter 4 would always freeze and crash the game upon being loaded. Yet, when I restarted the chapter and went through that same dialogue sequence, everything would be just fine. Unfortunately, there’s no clue as to what will or will not do this, so it’s just a matter of your save data possibly going through this. To be safe, don’t save during the concert event in Chapter 4.
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a blend of Corpse Party, Danganronpa, and a few more games. On the downside, the controls aren’t explained to you, and there are a couple issues with the presentation and save data. Regardless, this game’s story is just as chilling as its predecessor and is well worth the venture to prepare you for the chilling final chapter this fall in Blood Drive.