Corpse Party: Blood Drive on the Vita comes out just in time for Halloween, and wraps up the story arc that originally started on the PSP. Here’s our review.
The original two games in this story arc, Corpse Party and Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, were met with a moderate level of success and critical acclaim – gathering a bit of a cult following among PSP owners. Its mix of storytelling, suspense and horror elements wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly unique.
Blood Drive aims to continue the story from where it left off in Book of Shadows, with events that take place a mere two months after the finale of that game. Without spoiling too much, the main plot revolves around bringing back several characters that were lost earlier on because of what happened in the first two games – and of course such use of dark magic has consequences.
The story is, once again, a highlight here. A large part of that, however, hinges on whether or not you played the previous games. If you did, then Blood Drive is the equivalent of a horror movie sequel that finds a clever way to reboot the franchise with some nice twists. If you didn’t, then a lot of references will most likely be lost on you. There is some Corpse Party lore to be unlocked and read, but never as an integral part to the story that’s unfolding in the game itself. Again, this won’t bother Corpse Party veterans, but it’s not the most welcoming experience for newcomers.
While the PSP games looked and played in ways that were very similar, Blood Drive makes some big changes. Using the enhanced power of the Vita, the game makes the switch from 2D to 3D, although the Japanese-style 3D visuals somehow make everything feel a bit less scary and distract a bit from the story. The story (or interaction) sequences however look much better than they ever did, with HD visuals that really pop out at you. A part of that is because they are often quite colorful, whereas the game itself is generally very dark – almost to the point of things being hard to see.
This is where one of Blood Drive’s gameplay innovations comes in – the use of dynamic lighting through your flashlight. Although things look quite a bit cuter than they probably should, the dark still isn’t your friend – and flashlight batteries quickly become a valued commodity. Traps make it especially hard to traverse the dark corridors, and you’re constantly tempted to use up some of your battery power – all the time wondering if you won’t need them even more a moment later.
The story is excellent, but plot progression isn’t anywhere near perfect. Loading screens, basic puzzles and some back-tracking take some of the suspense out of what would otherwise be a tense situation indeed – and after every chapter you end back up at the main menu. One cannot shake the feeling that better design choices could have been made here.
Still, as a piece of interactive storytelling Corpse Party: Blood Drive succeeds. It should have done a lot more in terms of character development to please newcomers, but for those who already played and enjoyed the previous game this is a fitting finale – despite its unfortunate shortcomings. If you’re looking to get into the Corpse Party series then you’re probably better off playing the original ones first though.