Corpse Party was a creepy emotional roller coaster of a ride. Does Corpse Party: Book of Shadows have the same emotional impact?
A Different Party, A Different Dance
Since Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a direct sequel to its predecessor, I’ll start by saying that you’ll definitely need to play the first game to even understand what is going on.
With that said, the gameplay between both games has been altered slightly. While the first game was an adventure title that used the presentation of a traditional 16-bit RPG ala Chrono Trigger, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows goes back to its adventure game roots. It uses a first person point and click perspective similar to a visual novel. Because of this Corpse Party: Book of Shadows falls more in line with games like Snatcher and Policenauts as opposed to its predecessor.
Also, thanks to the changed presentation, the game’s atmosphere improves. The environments of the school feel more alive and have much more detail than it did in the previous game. Broken stairways, fallen hallways and dismembered bodies are illustrated better. The audio part of the games is unchanged, but this is not a bad thing. It retains the high quality that was found in the earlier game. Because of this a good pair of headphones will get you the most out of the game’s brilliant sound effects. Creaky walls, footsteps in the dark, and the disgustingly detailed sound of gore come alive with keen execution.
Along with the new presentation, the game also adds a new mechanic that changes its health system. This new mechanic, called the Contamination Spirit System, causes you to lose sanity. As your health is brought down in the game, you’ll start seeing hallucinations. These hallucinations distort the play field and disorients the player. When this happens, navigating the game becomes overly difficult as images start to interrupt the screen. This subsequently can cause the player to accidentally go some where they do not want to go, or go around in circles.
The Flow of the Party is muddled
While the gameplay and atmosphere has been improved greatly the story, unfortunately, did not. The game opens up with great potential by picking up on one of the most shocking moments of the original game. Many familiar characters return, and even characters that were not fleshed out in the previous game are given more life. But, despite these seemingly positive aspects, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows falls apart due to it being overly intricate and unnecessarily complicated.
This is due in part because the plot jumps around way too much. For instance, one chapter involves recreating a whole chapter from the first game with some minor differences. It felt at times that this was just unnecessary. There was not much differentiation in this chapter from its counterpart in the first game aside from its ending. But even that was lackluster for it had no impact that was worthwhile.
In hindsight, I felt that Corpse Party’s story was much more straightforward and, most importantly, coherent. This fact alone allowed the game to be more emotionally engaging and not hidden by a muddled up premise. While the characters are still very interesting, it just seems that the muddled up premise takes so much more of your mind share that they became buried under it. Even characters like Naomi and Satoshi from the original game, seem more disconnected.
A Good Dance, But Terrible Flow
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows seems to fall into the old cliché, “One step forward, two steps back.” This game improves what many people had issues with and goes into a more traditional route. And while gameplay additions like the Contamination Spirit System benefit the game greatly, thanks to the games muddled plot Corpse Party: Book of Shadows just lacks the emotional impact of the previous game’s story. If you played the first game and liked it, ultimately I think this is a party worth going back to. But be forewarned that while the dance is great, the flow of the party is overly muddled.
Anthony completed the original Corpse Party shortly before playing through Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. XSEED provided us with a review code for Corpse Party: Book of Shadows for review.
Available on: PSP
Version Reviewed: PSP