Corpse Party: Blood Drive is touted to be the final chapter to the Corpse Party story (at least, for the story about Heavenly Host Elementary School… there’s been an unrelated sequel in the works for a while). It released in summer of 2014 in Japan–and it wasn’t until quite some time later that a localization was announced. I was pretty nervous for a while there! But in the end XSeed delivered, even managing to get a limited run of a physical edition made via a lovely special edition set (with art book and CD).
I’ve been playing this off and on since it came out, so I’m still only in chapter 4 (of 10). As such, I don’t feel it’s fair to give a final review of the game yet (especially when it’s such a story-driven franchise). So for now, I’ll just be sharing some first impressions of the game.
So far my feelings are… much more mixed than I was hoping. I’m enjoying the game in that it’s a new Corpse Party, but there’s a few points that are working against Blood Drive’s favor. It remains to be seen if the story will be good enough to alleviate some of the technical and presentation issues this game is sadly plagued with.
The gameplay of Blood Drive is reminiscent of the first Corpse Party game, in that you control characters in the haunted school–but this time with full-blown 3D graphics rather than pixels. You search for items, run away from ghosts, etc. Some new game mechanics include the use of a flashlight (to help you see traps such as piano wire and shrapnel) as well as dressers to hide in when being chased by shadowy spooks. These are great additions, but they are not without their issues. The flashlight adds a noticeable framerate drop, making movement slightly sputtery. And as for all the ghosts that chase you… Well, I haven’t really found them scary at all so far. They’re generic, they show up too often to seem menacing (and instead come off as more of a pain), and the game just ends with you dying if you get hurt enough times. There are still some of Corpse Party’s trademark “bad ends” to obtain in this game, but you won’t get them from the generic spirits.
Perhaps what slows the game down the most though are the incessant load times. Every time you go into a new room, you get a long loading screen. Open the menu? Long loading screen. And even within the menu, if you decide to check your inventory… another loading screen. What the hell? It’s all a damn shame, because going through three or four loading screens while being chased by a ghost is kind of… lame. It really just feels like the development team bit off more than they could chew with this one. (And I’m going to assume these technical woes won’t be patched, since the game’s been out in Japan for over a year now.)
Well, those are the issues. They’re not so bad that I won’t keep playing, but it definitely makes this a game just for the fans. (Which is perhaps all anyone would expect anyways, since this is the third title in a continuing story of games.) So, how about the main reason for playing this one: the story? Well, it’s a bit hard to say how I feel about that at the moment. Some parts I have really liked, and several plot developments have felt like a perfect extension of the story established in the first two entries. But then there are other parts that are… like… what? The story has become a bit more outlandish, and much more convoluted. I think there’s three, maybe four different organizations involved in what’s going on here? Lots of new characters, and I’m not sure how I feel about most of them.
I will give Blood Drive the benefit of the doubt for now though, as I think I’m just reaching the point where things start cranking up a notch. But definitely keep in mind that there is a ton of reading to be had for this one. This is not like the first Corpse Party where you get thrown into the survival horror gameplay fairly quickly–this is more along the lines of Persona 4, where we have a ton of setting up to do before things really get going. If you’re in this for the story (as I’d hope you would be) then you’ll be fine, but otherwise you’re in for a long haul. And as I’ve alluded to, getting into this one just for the gameplay might not be worth it.
All right! I’ll have a review of this put together once I finish playing through it. Might be a short post since I covered a lot here already, but we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I’ll be able to raise the final score up a star or two…