It’s the month of October and if you celebrate Halloween, that only means one thing: Scary stuff is in season! That’s what makes this release the perfect time. A long awaited sequel to a franchise that has become extremely popular on the PSP is finally landing on the Vita and with it comes a host of changes. Is this a scary game that you should jump head first into, or did the transition to the Vita bring along with it more nightmares?
Corpse Party: Blood Drive involves a haunted school, or I should say it did, but does the new one still involve the school? Well shoot, this is one of those games that is highly dependent upon its stories and the prior games. It’s mostly a story driven experience with little gameplay variations and exploration that detail the moments that transpire. So it’s hard for me to dive into exactly what the main focus is without jumping into heavy spoilers. I can say this, the premises is as follows: Survivors from the last games, still distraught over the events that transpired, believe the horrors are all behind them. Little do they know that things are never as they seem. Once again finding themselves being thrown into another horrific tale.
Corpse Party started as a top down game with a retro pixel RPG style look. Corpse Party Book of Shadows went the way of a more visual novel approach. Now with Blood Drive we have a fully 3D style with exploration similar to the first game. The visuals have a very clean look and a cute style, which makes the themes and events that transpire even a bit more disturbing. Right from the start players see an unknown character getting mangled and twisted by an unseen force and the noises that come from the death scene just made me cringe.
Gameplay boils down to exploration mostly but there are a few new additions to the franchise. Were as before it was mostly just exploring only, here we have the use of a flashlight, dodging deadly traps, and the ability to hide in lockers from chasing enemies. It’s a nice addition to the gameplay and actually adds more substance of game nuances to what was previously mostly a story driven, “choose your own adventure” style of game. That being said, choices still ultimately matter and can lead players to bad endings in chapters, so careful in what decisions are made.
The jump to 3D is nice and with it comes new visuals and more gameplay dynamics. Players can even use talismans to destroy spirits that are chasing them this time around though they are limited and the phantoms are plentiful. While the pixel art in the original was fantastic, this bring a whole new feeling to the titles and faithfully recreated the school to explore. Sound is one again key to the experience with binaural 3d audio, making playing with headphones almost a requirement. Not just due to hearing things simulated from left and right, but also because sometime the voices sound extremely low and off in the distance depending on the scene. The soundtrack also adds a ton to this title as most horrors games get a huge boost and can live or die by their soundtrack. Sure there is plenty of moments of the soundtrack that are fitting for a more normal scene, but the times when they try to scare or set the mood, they nail it. Voice acting is fitting as well, but it’s not in English for those wanting to know, though I found this was deterrent to story at all and the voices provided showcase emotion well enough even with the lack of understanding it naturally.
While there is a host of improvements and moving to 3D is a nice new addition, there are some issues at hand. The flashlight brings the framerate to a cripple at times. It’s distracting and really disappointing, making players want to do without it for as much as possible. It doesn’t break the game but it doesn’t do it any favors. While the game is quite longer than the previous games, it also has more frustrations with it, due to the traps, or the overabundance of ghostly chases. Turning what could be a title focused narrative conclusion to the franchise, into one that offers frustration and moments of despair, one not created by the story but the gameplay mechanics. Add in that sometimes that game has crashed, and players can see where one might want to draw blood instead of playing Blood Drive.
It sounds as if Corpse Party Blood Drive isn’t worth playing with some of those issues I just mentioned, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still worth experiencing and seeing the conclusion to the franchise. It’s got some nice ideas with its new visual look and style, more gameplay elements than ever before, and a longer game then the others. It comes with technical issues, but if you’re willing to look past those blemishes, you’ll get to see an exciting conclusion, even if it costs you a little bit of bleeding frustration in the process.
A PlayStation Vita code was provided by the publisher for review purposes