Visual Novel Spotlight: Corpse Party: Book of Shadowson March 18, 2013 by Shadocchi
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is the sequel-of-sorts to Corpse Party for PSP. While it continues some of the plot, it spends more time expanding on the events of the first game in alternate timelines. It also moves to more of a visual novel style, ditching the RPG Maker-esque movement in favour of point and click gameplay.
Last fortnight I covered Corpse Party, the visual novel/non-combat RPG developed by Team GrisGris. Corpse Party: Book of Shadows takes those same characters and gives attention to some of the ones who didn’t get much spotlight in the previous game. It also expands upon certain Wrong Ends or alternative timelines, just in case you thought the first game didn’t have enough suffering.
While the game begins with Naomi’s return from Heavenly Host, the rest of it is a non-linear exploration of second chances. You explore alternative timelines for Naomi and Yuka; see into Miss Yui’s past; play as Mayu and Morishige; and you even follow some of the characters from the extra chapters in the first game. An additional chapter,Blood Drive, can be unlocked by importing your Corpse Party save data and it is the only section that acts as a true sequel.
The game has an obvious increase in budget but only half of its new features are useful. The move from RPG-like exploration to point and click gives players a chance to see gory details but is hardly used to full effect. Moving via map becomes tedious as you often have to stop at each square to search for items. This does mean that chases are no longer an event, but it also means part of the immediacy is gone.
Another new mechanic (and something of a spoiler for the first game) is the Darkening meter, which measures the characters’ despair and dictates how certain scenes play out. For the most part it’s underused, but it brings in some interesting yet subtle changes.
Book of Shadows really improves its use of sound from the first game. Most voices and sound effects are recorded in 3D, meaning that they can appear to be close, far away or to either side of you. It immerses you more in the school than the first game, as the illusion of depth with whispering ghosts and footsteps feels more real.
Although slightly evident in Corpse Party, Book of Shadows seems to revel in making horror sexy. Situations like having a girl tied up – just a kick away from instant death – are presented in a way that shows off thighs and bellies, almost like it’s just some rough BDSM. It feels like Corpse Party’s resident necrophile, Morishige, directed the event CG. It’s not present in every situation, but it’s there enough to be a little unsettling.
Once you accept that Book of Shadows isn’t a direct sequel to Corpse Party, spending time with new characters is quite enjoyable. It feels like more of a companion game to its predecessor. The cast includes nineteen characters – two new to the game and seven from the high schools that appeared in Corpse Party’s extra chapters. Most chapters begin with some slice of life scenes to properly introduce you to the characters before they’re torn to pieces, either physically or mentally.
Because the game spends the majority of its time in the past, the extra chapter Blood Drive feels more like an advertisement for the next game, aptly called Corpse Party:Blood Drive. It only begins to address some of the questions left unanswered from Corpse Party before it ends.
While Book of Shadows’ new gameplay aspects are hit and miss, overall it’s an improvement on the first game and a solid companion to the first Corpse Party. You may be turned off by the sex appeal mixed with gore but the rest of the game gives more insight into characters who didn’t get enough or any attention in the prequel.
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is available in the UK and US PlayStation Network for £11.99 and $19.99, respectively. The sequel, Corpse Party: Blood Drive is yet to have a release date. An alternate game, Corpse Party: Dead Patient is scheduled to release its Chapter One on April 25th.