Many games have been coming over from Japan to North America and Europe, and this includes an abundance of visual novel titles. Corpse Party: Blood Drive is one of those and the third instalment in the horror story about an alternate dimension where spirits torture children in Heavenly Host high school. This reviewer has some experience in visual novels and horror games, but never one with these genres combined. Released on October 13th in North America and October 20th in Europe for the PlayStation Vita, will this game take the top place for visual novels or become lost in the wake of the others as nothing special?
The story for Blood Drive revolves around Ayumi Shinozaki and the surviving classmates from Kisaragi Academy. After escaping Heavenly Host in the previous titles, a new event gets set in motion when Ayumi is told of a way to revive her friends from the dead. This sends her on a goose chase back to the other dimension in search of the Book of Shadows with the help of some new characters to the series. She must avoid the tormented spirits that reside in this spectral zone and find what she is seeking. While this is great for players who have been following Corpse Party up until this sequel, it’s not so good for new players just joining. The story simply glosses over events that happened in the previous title, and doesn’t go into much explanation, leaving the new player lost but able to pick up a little of who and what the older characters have done and been through.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive: Playstation Vita
Developer: 5pb., Team GrisGris
Publisher: 5pb., Marvelous USA
Release Date: 21 October 2015
Price: £34.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer/Publisher]
What Blood Drive delivers is something that’s been sorely lacking in many games of the recent years: a chilling story. If it’s one thing that the Japanese are sure to deliver on it’s a twisted story that makes you cringe and awe at the surprising events that occur. While bringing back the same sense of dread for the plot as in the past game, it also adds a new whimsical aspect with the all new characters including Magari of the Murtubas. These characters outfits and abilities are far more outlandish than the traditional Corpse Party crew, who are just regular high school students, suffering through a horrible, alternate dimension. While the despair is evident throughout the entire game as the central theme, there are times that confusing elements of cuteness or weirdness presents itself with these new additions.
While the unusual interactions with returning/new characters feel like an odd mix, their voice actors perform phenomenally to bring them to life. Just listening to Ayumi scream out in despair is heart-wrenching, and many of the actors know exactly how to sound caring, scared and/or anxious. The game is in Japanese with English subtitles but even without those it’s entirely possible to tell the current mood just by listening to their tones, which is exactly what a voice actor needs to convey and is performed consistently throughout the game. Not only that, but artwork and translations are spectacular, as well. The beautiful artistry depicts scenes well and adds to the suspense that is already existent from the voice work. Not only that, but while reading you’ll notice that the translations from the Japanese dialogue is expertly done. As an avid manga reader, who reads translations regularly, I notice when translations don’t exactly make sense or terms aren’t explained properly. This game covers story-telling in a very professional manner, it’s only the gameplay that leaves the player hanging.
The gameplay is relatively simple compared to most games — considering that it’s a visual novel. You use whichever character at the time to maneuver throughout the map, interact with objects, avoid traps, and run from specters chasing after you. What Blood Drive does well is create tense circumstances in which you’ll find yourself conserving your flashlight battery and running stamina in order to survive; these elements provides moments of anxiety in which you’re struggling to find batteries through the level or trying to pace your sprints. Although — since Blood Drive uses 3D models in Unity that the previous games hadn’t — it suffers from glitches while utilizing the flashlight. Playing the game without the flashlight causes it to actually run smoothly opposed to it on which makes it easier to see traps but makes the playing feel choppy.
One of the great things about this title is that there is a chapter select, providing the player with the option to replay certain scenes they may have missed before or forgot about. This is great because you won’t feel forced to replay the game from the beginning again. However, what this game becomes increasingly annoying for is the load screen. The load screen is nothing special, just a ghostly face peering back at you in shadow as you shake your PlayStation Vita in frustration at the fact that this loading screen appears for every instance in which you’re navigating to anything during menus or in-game.
The Trophies involved with this visual novel are mainly story-based but also have those that contain special requirements for completion. They don’t seem too difficult as there is the option to chapter select and collect certain items or interact in special events to net those final Trophies that you may be missing. Visual novel games don’t normally offer Trophies that are difficult to achieve, although this will sure to have you looking up guides in order to complete.
Overall, Corpse Party: Blood Drive delivered a spooky and chilling story, which is what I think horror games should focus on nowadays more than just jump scares. Horror titles need something that shakes you down to your core and makes you cringe, and this delivers on that end. Though this factor, its artwork, and voice acting were stellar, it lacked in anything else memorable. The gameplay was simple but could get frustrating at times when you run out of batteries for the camera or when the game chugs at instances when you flash the light on areas. Also, the loading screen becomes increasingly annoying as you navigate anything in the menu — even opening the settings brings up the load screen! Otherwise, this is a game that provides an interesting and spooky story but will not really stand out amongst the flood of incoming visual novels for hardcore gamers.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive Review
- Haunting story that will chill you to the bones
- Beautiful artwork
- 3D models are fun to navigate around environments
- Stellar voice work and translation
- Interactions and events involving returning/new characters feel awkward
- Batteries are scarce for flashlight
- Game chugs with flashlight and gets frustrating on harder maps
- Load screen appears in great abundance and gets annoying