Friday, November 6, 2015

Corpse Party: Blood Drive (PS Vita) Review

One thing is for sure: when your game is named Corpse Party, you are pretty sure what you are going to get when you play.  In this sequel to Book of Shadows, Blood Drive has the characters once again involved in Heavenly Host Elementary.  Yes, the survivors actually want to go back, and yes, I really wanted to yell at them too.  This entry has a new story with some new characters, which of course will get drawn into the creepy world of grisly death.  Seriously, the game lives up to its name.

The story of Blood Drive follows closely after the events of Book of Shadows, but does very little to recap it.  After starting it up, I felt like I should have replayed the previous game all over again so I could remember who everyone was.  Well, looking back at my review, that might not have helped.  This time, there are pictures of which character is talking as well as chibi versions of the characters so it is much easier to keep track of who is who.  Although the characters do swap between using first and last names, so it is still very possible to get confused.  Really, they needed a more comprehensive recap of the previous game, but instead we get a sentence or two.  Even sticking it in the encyclopedia would have been helpful, but I haven't seen it there.

Last time the game was in first person as you walked around the creepy, decrepit elementary school, but now it is in third person, and you control a little chibi character.  There are a lot of traps around, like weak floors that you partially fall into, sharp objects and trip wires.  Hitting these will deplete some of your HP, which can either be restored with bandages or time.  Admittedly, the hit detection on these traps seems a bit off, since I would try to skirt them and sometimes trip them.  It never killed me, but will keep me from easily getting one of the game's trophies.  I like moving around the areas in this 3D world more than the Wizardry-like presentation of the previous game.

Besides traps, there are occasional malevolent spirits that chase you around.  Most times while running from them, I would step in an environmental trap.  I guess I shouldn't make fun of all the people that trip in horror movies while fleeing from the monster.  If you are carrying a talisman item, the spirit will be destroyed when it gets near you, and sacrifice the talisman.  Otherwise, you have to flee and hide in a cabinet.  This brings up an interesting screen that shows your heartbeat and a colored circle.  When the circle is red, the ghost is nearby and you shouldn't exit.  When it is green, it is much safer to do so.  These ghosts can find you in there, so don't get seen entering one.  Since you cannot see outside while hiding, this is an interesting way to help alert you when it is safe to exit and when you should remain hiding.  Running from them can be a hassle, since you can only run so long before getting tired.  Of course the ghosts don't have this problem.  Combine that with their tenacity and escaping can be very difficult.

Since the world is pretty dark, you get a flashlight (well, it's actually a phone) to help see.  The lighting effects cast from the flashlight are really, really good.  It's better than I thought the Vita was capable of, and that's not an insult to the awesome little handheld.  To add another scary element to the game, the use of the flashlight drains the batteries.  You can find more batteries, or just turn on the endless batteries by pressing the select button.  While I appreciate that there is a way to not have to rely on the batteries, having a button to make it infinite seems silly.  Why even make it limited in the first place?  And why does a phone take double As?

Save for a few parts, the game isn't overly difficult.  You can see most traps if you are paying attention, and you can recover HP just by walking around and not taking damage.  Many spirits hang out near a talisman that can be used to banish them, except Chapter 4.  That part of the game with a few others, like escaping the water and the final boss, are pretty tricky and will likely require a few reloads.  Dying will send you back to the main menu, but many times it is a bad ending that the game keeps track of, so all may not be lost.

However, getting lost sucks.  The game does not provide you with a map, so you need to make/get one or try and remember it.  I also didn't see any place where it tracks what your current objective is, assuming one was even told to you, so many times I would just stumble around and try to find out what to do.  I get the game is creepy and having a golden trail to the objective wouldn't make sense, but I just don't get scared when I'm not making progress; I'm getting annoyed.  Sometimes crucial things you have to examine aren't obvious and you have to start poking everything.  This will build up your 'darkness' and doing it too much will kill you.  So yes, the essentially punishes you when it doesn't tell you what to do next.

There are 10 chapters in the game that can take between 30 minutes to an hour or two depending on reading speed and how lost you get.  There are also some unlockable EX chapters that are just text-based, but help add to the story from other perspectives.  Most of the trophies are for things I would do anyway, like getting all the endings for the chapters and finding the student ID tags.  There are a few crazy ones that I'm not a fan of, like going through each chapter without touching anything you don't need to (so collect the ID tags before hand) and without taking damage from anything.  You would definitely need to replay to get those two.

My biggest drawback to the game would be the load times.  Examining things and picking up items are fairly quick, but just about everything else requires a loading screen.  Changing rooms?  Load screen.  Going to the menu to check your health?  Load screen.  They tend to run anywhere from 4-9 seconds.  While it doesn't sound like much, it feels like an eternity sometimes, and it really adds up over the course of the game.  Plus, exasperatedly sitting through them kills the suspense and creepy feeling a lot of the time.  It also feels like any spirits you are fleeing from gain on you while the game is loading.  I can assume all the loading is because of the lighting physics.  If that is the case, I'm on the fence of if it is worth it.  It slows the game down, and not in a good way.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive is a creepy game with some good visuals and great lighting effects.  Strives have been made to make the characters easier to follow, but it still isn't perfect.  It's easy to get lost and wander around with no idea what you need to do to proceed.  A map would have been nice, but maybe they thought that would make it too easy?  The game is only really difficult in a few spots, and the loading really slows down the game.  Overall, it does play better than the previous game in the series.  If you are a fan of the Corpse Party series, Blood Drive should be played, but you may want a refresher course before you dive in.  New players really need to start at the beginning, and play them back to back or take notes.

No comments:

Post a Comment