Corpse Party Book of Shadows (PC) Review – Bloody Fun?
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PSP
Developer: MAGES / 5pb.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release: 29th October 2018
While Corpse Party may not be unknown to many of you, it´s quite a popular game franchise and even got an anime, after all, not many will have played it´s three spin-offs released on PSP and Vita the past years. So, XSEED Games decided to port all three of them over on PC along the full follow-up Corpse Party 2, the first one being Book of Shadows. And who isn´t interested in some Japanese horror games?
Taking place across various times during and before Corpse Party, Corpse Party Book of Shadows is a collection of various short stories, all centring around the grotesque themes of the original, aiming to expand as well as explain many unclear things. However, don´t expect any major revelations, since the majority of this collection is meant to enhance the world, rather than truly shift some light on it. It may present the future of some main characters but in the end, I enjoyed the more unique stories way more.
Mainly because Corpse Party Book of Shadows works a lot like you would expect, presenting happy scenarios that quickly turn into journeys into agony, which naturally can become quite dull when combined with scenarios we already know so much about. Additionally, often they don´t introduce new ideas or fates either, rather expand on them in a way anyone could´ve predicted in a way. When it tries its hands at completely new things though, they simply work if you´re into this kinda cheesy, hyper-dark setting. Sometimes the story tends to become a bit too absorbed into its darkness, making it almost laughable but nonetheless, it has some magnificent moments.
Mainly due to the writing that mixes your typical slice-of-life feeling with the gruesome horror of ghosts, murder and death. Top it off with a haunted school setting, some cute and dumb school girls and you got a perfect base. The thing here is as I said before, they come together to form interesting paths, full of interesting ideas or twists. Especially considering how few games try their hands at actually gruesome stuff, Corpse Party Book of Shadows does one of the best jobs of making it work by toying with your expectations. Additionally, the shorter length also makes for a lot better pacing overall, as the more foreseeable points are quickly done and it just tells itself in very appealing bites.
Unfortunately, it´s not early as entertaining during its gameplay sections. Instead of the top-down view from the original, Corpse Party Book of Shadows is mainly a visual novel, hence everything is from first-person view, introducing the same problems many of those adventure sections have: Looking for items can be really, really tedious. While the interactable objects are highlighted, avoiding even more annoying search cycles, the overall navigation through the classrooms and mediocre design make it hard to have fun with any of it, especially when you once again have to search every room since you missed one item. It´s not challenging nor interesting, simply forcing you to wander aimlessly through the halls.
Throughout the whole game, I never saw any really unique designs, smart level navigation or anything alike, dragging down he whole thing way more than necessary. Considering how well the game still holds up visually, that´s a real shame. Honestly, I like the illustrations a lot, because they often perfectly capture the gruesome nature of Corpse Party Book of Shadows with its focus on terrified eyes and really great looking blood. Even though I found Chaos;Child a bit more terrifying in that regard, the added horror-themes here surely make up for it with all kinds of classic clichés smartly used to create interesting visuals and designs. Given, the whole anime aesthetic may harm its atmosphere from time to time, since it´s just too cute for its own sake (if that makes sense) but nonetheless, it´s a really high-quality product.
Topped off with XSEED porting capabilities, the PC version runs pretty great. Here and there it has some problems with accurately getting to run the game on your chosen resolution without a restart, dragging down the fps in the 20s, yet, I didn´t experience any bugs, crashes or faults with the performance in other regards. Obviously, the PSP natural shows in the picture resolutions and size of the game but that was to be expected and doesn´t become too obvious on PC with the much higher resolution.
Corpse Party Book of Shadows isn´t a masterpiece of a horror game but is still a really fun one, depicting the brutality everyone wants from this franchise in a great manner. Surely not for everyone but for all those fans of the first one, this surely will be a good time.
[A Review Code was provided by XSEED Games]