M_C’s [Corpse Party: Book of Shadows] Review

I just recently cleared this game (to be more specific, I cleared it while riding the coach back from the NJ Workshop) after putting it on a break for nearly 2 months (my last save data was on March 15).

Why such a long break you asked?
Two reasons:

  1. I got many games on my hands to play.
  2. I intentionally saved up this game to build up my mood for the Corpse Party Fan Fiction that I’ll be reviving soon.

As a fan, I was kind of excited to hear about the localization news (even though I already got myself majorly spoiled more than a good part of the game) and I even made an entry about it in the old blog (here).
But after actually playing the game, my expectation wasn’t really met. The game doesn’t suck or anything along that line. I just feel that the game really could have been better or perhaps the first game left a huge shoe for Book of Shadows to fit.
Whatever the case, all I can say is this game didn’t exactly live up to the hype I had for it and we are going to explore why I thought so here.

So without any further adieu, let’s get into the review!

DISCLAIMER!!

Note that aside from points where I specified otherwise, my opinion in this article is always completely objective and built up from an absolutely neutral point.

WARNING!!

This review will heavily contain spoilers to [Corpse Party: Book of Shadows]. Proceed at your own risk!

This game contains mature contents such as violence and extreme gore. Please be advised while reading this review.

Introduction

The Japanese version of [Corpse Party: Book of Shadows] was released for PSP on September 1, 2011. After 2 years of wait, the game got translated and the North American version was released on January 15, 2013.
This game is supposedly the “sequel” to the first Corpse Party game, [Corpse Party: Blood Covered]. However, there is a reason I put the quotation marks on the word sequel, and that is because Book of Shadows isn’t a 100% sequel title. Most of the story in this game is a ‘spin-off’ events of sort, occurring mostly in an alternate ‘what-if’ scenario branching from a certain ‘Wrong End’ of the first game, where the nightmares of Heavenly Host is looped for the protagonists.
The only real ‘sequel’ events to the first game is the last of the 8 chapters in this game called ‘Blood Drive’, which is more of a ‘teaser’ to the actual sequel [Corpse Party: Blood Drive] scheduled to be released in Japan on the Playstation Vita some times this year (2013).
(Credit to all the dates in this article)

Gameplay

Exploration

Point and click. For some reason, the screen cap looks a lot darker than on the PSP…

Unlike the first game, which used the formula of sprite-based navigation, this game is a full Visual Novel, using the ‘Point-Click’ system to explore the dark halls of Heavenly Host Elementary.

Navigation Map

To move to other rooms, you press the shoulder L button on the PSP to bring up the Map and choose the room you wish to visit. Most of the time, you are not told where you have to go next, so you’ll have to make sure to explore every single corner of the map and pick up every item along the way. Some events occurred only if you have certain key item(s) with you, so take note on where you have to back track. Some rooms also might not be accessible until you have a key item or activated a certain event.

Darkening

Unlike the first game where you can explore pretty much anything to your heart’s content, exploring scary items like corpses or unnerving furniture will increases your ‘Darkening’ meter (which can be viewed at any time by accessing the menu with the triangle button).

Once the Darkening meter hits 100%, it’s instant game over.
Some wrong ends or optional events can be triggered only if you have a certain amount of Darkening.

There is no reducing the Darkening meter once it has increased (aside from obvious save and reloads). But don’t worry. The Darkening meter is not as unforgiving as Breath of Fire V’s D-Counter system, and examining corpses doesn’t increase a lot of Darkening (2% max, iirc).
You get significant increases only if you did some specific events you are not supposed to (i.e., examining a door in chapter 5 when the game already told you not to do so).

Wrong Ends

I purposely got a couple of the wrong ends though. Those include #1 of ch3, #7 of ch5, and #1 of ch7. The rest are unintentional.

The wrong ends are back and they are as ever ‘creative’ as before. Talk about ‘descriptive’…
Also, unless you import the data from the previous game (Corpse Party: Blood Covered), you HAVE to collect ALL the Wrong Ends to unlock the last chapter of the game (Blood Drive).
Whatever your reason to collect the wrong ends is, have fun collecting them.

Name Tags

Much like the first game, you will find the name tags of the various victims that fall prey to Heavenly Host’s curse.
This is very much for collection sake and serves no other real purposes.
Some name tags are rather tricky to collect as well, since there is only a small time frame for you to pick it up. You miss that chance, you miss it forever. Get your game restarted.

Bonus Sections

There are a number of unlockables in the game, including the music tracks, in-game CGs, and interviews of the VAs.
Right now, I’m missing two CGs, but I think I have an idea of where I am supposed to get it.
The interviews of the VAs are pretty amusing to listen to.

Story Critics

There isn’t much game play for me to share. As a result, for this review, I will follow a different approach and critic mostly on the story from a writing point of view.

Needless to say, since we are discussing the story in this article, it will inevitably contain full spoilers to the story. I know I have the spoiler warning up above in most of my reviews, but it was mostly forewarning just in case I included any spoilers by mistake. So, I warn you again right now:

The following section will contain FULL SPOILERS to [Corpse Party: Book of Shadows] AND [Corpse Party: Blood Covered]. If you haven’t played both games and do not wish to be spoiled, GO BACK NOW!

Chapter 1 – Seal

Synopsis

The first chapter mostly sets up the events of this game, directly telling us that the story that is about to occur from now is a spin-off story, branching from a Wrong End of the first game.
Satoshi warned everyone that they are now in a time loop, and should they perform the Sachiko Ritual, they’ll be taken to the world of nightmares. As we all know, Satoshi was infamous for being a coward so no one took him seriously (poor guy). In the end, they still perform the ritual and the whole nightmare restarts.

Here we go.

In this chapter, we get to see the ‘alternate’ version of the first game’s chapter 1. We take control of Naomi and explore the Heavenly Host after she had a fight with Seiko and got separated from her. You are given a chance to apologize Seiko for yelling at her but… Heavenly Host doesn’t enjoy seeing you trying to change your fate…

Anyway, Naomi continues her exploration, and at one point, she finally recalls that Seiko is about to be hanged. She regains her consciousness right in front of the girl’s restroom where she found Seiko dangling on the gallows and tries to save her (Blood Covered players will probably know which choices to pick here).

With some luck, Naomi was able to bring Seiko down.
Wow!
You’ve changed Seiko’s horrible fate!!!
That’s great! You’re awesome!!!

…Or not…?

If you didn’t play the first game, then the events after you saved Seiko might not make much sense to you. But if you do, you’ll know that the one who put Seiko up there was none other than Naomi herself. As a result, Seiko freaks out and runs into a piano string that was wired at the foot of the stairs. From being hanged, Seiko’s head was snapped from her shoulders when Naomi tried to change her fate.
Sachiko appears to mock Naomi, laughing at how pathetic she tried to alter the fate of the ‘sealed’.
That’s right.
Anyone who died in Heavenly Host, one way or the other, can never have his or her fate altered. They are sealed, destined to die again and again, each time with a much more horrible death.

Comment

In my opinion, this is the best-written alternate tale chapter of the whole game. ‘Suddenly piano wires’ aside, the story ties the events of the first game to the events in this chapter extremely well and everything fits together so perfectly and subtly in one piece.

Chapter 2 – Demise

Synopsis

This chapter was quite a big let down when compared to the legacy of the first chapter. It started out pretty good, but around the end, it felt like the airplane was about to run out of fuel and had to make an emergency landing somewhere.

For the majority of this chapter, we take control of Mayu Suzumoto, the character who only had a short screen time in the previous game before she became the new paint of Heavenly Host’s walls.
Mayu woke up in front of the Infirmary (a room of bad news in the Corpse Party universe, right next to the Girls’ Toilet). An eerie nostalgic feeling told her that she should not enter that room (because we all know that she’ll meet with the ghost kids and get turns into a bucket of paint after that). As a result, she decides to stay away from the room and that instantly changes her fate.

Eh… We know this can’t be good…

Anyway, the story continues on and Mayu meets up with Yoshiki who was separated from Ayumi (just like in the first game). The two travel together for a while and we’re finally introduced to a new character that never actually joined our party in the first game. The girl introduced herself as Nana and decided to join up with Mayu’s party since moving solo around a haunted school is definitely a bad idea.

Great. The more the merrier.

After a while, the team searches the school and finally found Ayumi being possessed in the Reference Room. Yoshiki successfully snapped Ayumi out of the possession (with da powah of love!!!) and the team rests up after the trek.

Around this point is where I felt that the story fell apart.
While resting, Yoshiki and Ayumi take nap while Nana and Mayu remain awake. Out of the blue, Nana decides to split up from the group to go to the toilet ALONE IN THE HAUNTED SCHOOL WITH DEATH TRAPS EVERYWHERE.

They… were so cautious before.
Why would she suddenly decide to try her safety and move out like that?

It doesn’t help that Mayu decides to follow Nana and witnesses her horrible death. The Seal Curse begins to take its toll on Mayu’s body and bruises start popping up on her body. Instead of staying with her friends, Mayu runs away to find a way to cover her bruises with her make up.

…Seriously?
Out of all the stuffs to worry about in a haunted school, you are embarrassed about the bruise…?

And out of all the rooms, she chose the Infirmary – the room of bad news – to put on her make up. She has her history there, and apparently, she hadn’t fully learned her lessons yet.
(Whoever thought of that ‘welcome back’ sign in the infirmary is freaking sadistic.)
I’ll let you guess what happened to her.

Comment

Compared to the first chapter, Mayu and Nana’s new death sequences are extremely weak when compared to Seiko’s. There is a reason for Seiko to be freaked out by Naomi and starts running. ‘Suddenly piano wires’ was only a tool of convenience that caused Seiko’s second death. Without the wires, they could easily make her tripped down the stairs while running away from Naomi and still experienced a neck-themed death.
Point is, Seiko’s inevitable death was justified and well backed with reason.

Mayu and Nana… Not so much. Like I mentioned above, why would they suddenly leave the group and get killed when they were so cautious before? The execution feels very weak and it was exactly why I felt that the plane ran out of its fuel and had to land somewhere prematurely.

Chapter 3 – Encounter

Synopsis

This chapter isn’t bad, but it kind of left too much stuffs unexplained.

Unlike the majority of other chapters, this chapter is extremely linear and downright a full scale Visual Novel with no real exploration at all. As a result, the whole chapter is a big session of ‘read-throughs’ and choice picking.

This chapter begins with Satoshi bringing lecture notes to Yui-sensei’s apartment, as an errand requested by another teacher. Apparently, Yui-sensei is sick and was absent from school. Satoshi enters Yui-sensei’s apartment, which was carelessly not locked. The sick Yui-sensei came all over Satoshi, calling him ‘Tsukasa’.

After that, we finally begin the real portion of the chapter – a flash back of Yui-sensei’s past when she was still a student. Yui met a young man named ‘Tsukasa’, who she had a crush on. The two of them talked and we found out that Yui’s dream was to become a teacher (which we know that she indeed succeeded. Hooray!) As a result, Tsukasa gave Yui his lucky pencil that he used to pass various tests in the past.

The big wacky bit happens when one rainy day, Yui left the house and found a mysterious old lady collapsed in front of her house. Under her dying breath, she pleads Yui not to go to the ‘Heavenly Host Elementary’. Obviously, our soon-to-be sensei was freaked out and didn’t listen to the old lady’s warning. It wasn’t until later that day when she starts chatting with her friends that Yui knew that their Kisaragi High School was build over Heavenly Host Elementary (kind of reminds of that one episode in ‘Courage: The Cowardly Dog’ with the zombie movie director, trying to revive his dead friend who was buried under Muriel’s house, LOL). But we all know the tale about Nurse Yoshie wandering the halls at 7 PM, right?

With things so hectic, Yui decides to go home early, only to realize that she forgot Tsukasa’s lucky pencil at school when it was already 6:45 PM or so. Our soon-to-be sensei was only a high schooler right now, so it’s really not strange for her to feel that getting the lucky pencil is compulsory. After all, a tale is a tale. Ghosts don’t really exist, right?
…Right…? Please tell me I’m right?
Oh, it’s too late. Yui already made her way to the school.

And as we all might have guessed. Some weird things happened while she was at school, and somehow, Yui is no longer in the school that she has always known.

Comment

To be honest, this chapter turned out to be fairly different from what I thought it would be. In fact, I like this chapter and thought it was pretty thrilling overall, until I was hit with two major things:

  1. As far as I know, it was never explained who the mysterious lady in the rain was… At least not in this game. I believe that in the Corpse Party’s spin-off game ‘2U’, it was explained that the lady is Sachiko’s aunt. However, with only the things revealed to us in this game, the role of the old lady seems to be extremely random and felt like it was just thrown in there to add tension to the story…
  2. So… Which is it really? Was Yui’s ordeal just a dream after all? Whatever the case, why would Tsukasa be at the school at that time of the night anyway? But more importantly, what the heck happened to Tsukasa and where is he now?

Like I said, the story of this chapter itself was okay, but it left a little too much to wonder…

Chapter 4 – Purgatory

Synopsis

This was actually the chapter I looked forward to playing most.
Why?
Because it potentially contains an integral material for my Corpse Party Fan Fiction. I want to explore Naho’s character deeper than what we already know from the first game. Not only that, this chapter introduced Sayaka, a character I wanted to include into the fan fiction to further develop Naho’s character.
However, it turns out that I couldn’t really get a lot of great materials to write about from the chapter at all.

The story begins with Naho and Sayaka hanging out like how normal high school girls would. We also get to see the ‘cutesy’ side of Naho, which almost made me fell for her (and I’m not even a fan of cat girls to begin with…)
The story then continues on with how Naho is researching about Sachiko’s curse and realizes how powerful she is.

(That being said, RockmanAL, if you are reading this, was it the CG in the Radio Station that made you jump? Cuz it didn’t give me a jump at all. Only a slight “เย้ย?!”)

Realizing how dangerous it is, Naho decides to stop her beloved mentor, Kibiki, from attempting the Sachiko Ritual. But it was futile. Kibiki decides to enter the Heavenly Host without Naho because he cares for her.
Freaked out, Naho quickly approaches Sayaka for help because she cannot perform the ritual alone. For the sake of her best friend, Sayaka agreed and the two girls entered Heavenly Host.

The ‘gameplay portion’ of this chapter is relatively short as it involves Sayaka making a single round exploration of the Bomb Shelter under Heavenly Host. After that, the game simply cuts the events off, only revealing to us that eventually, Sayaka gave in and was dragged away by Yoshikatsu.

Comment

Once again, exactly like chapter 2, the story started off really great with a promising plot. But then the plane once again ran out of fuel and made its emergency landing.
The story of Sayaka’s adventure in the Heavenly Host was way too short to get anything remotely useful for my fan fiction. Naho and Sayaka’s hang out was a nice shift of view, but girly chat is not an uncommon thing, and one can easily write a scene like that with their eyes closed.

So yeah, it’s not exactly a bad chapter, but it suffered the same problem chapter 2 had and it didn’t meet my personal expectation.

Chapter 5 – Shangri-La

Synopsis

Eh… Why am I playing this chapter again…?
Oh right. To get to the next chapter…
Okay… Here we go…

First of all, let me tell you that I’m not a fan of Morishige at all, and I don’t really understand how he had his fan base either. But I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

A good portion of this chapter was to expand Morishige’s story after he tried to chase after Yuka in the first game (which was easily the freakiest portion of the first game because the guy somehow freaking appeared in front of me when he was running behind me earlier…)
Shig was still minding his own business, enjoying the corpses and taking their pictures like how one would normally take pictures at a party (see what I did there?)
However, Shig was forced to interact with a few new characters that we only get to meet briefly in the last game (and some we don’t even get to see when they are alive). While exploring the Heavenly Host, Shig finds himself fighting against his urge to take photos of the dead and the urge to find Mayu.

Comment

I… really don’t have much else to say about this chapter, seriously.
The appearances of the new characters are pretty much the only thing that kept me interested in this chapter. But in the end, nothing much else was known.
The chapter was a chance to give Morshige more screen time and development, but the attempt flunked, in my opinion. I still do not have a newfound respect for Shig like many other players. If anything though, there is one thing this chapter succeeded, and that is to further confirm how much of a creep Shig is, as apparently, he stopped looking for Mayu and goes back to his corpse party…

Then again, this was a pretty long chapter (with lots of wrong ends) and I heard that there are some new cutscenes if we replay this chapter after we cleared it once.
I’ll try to sit through this chapter again to see if I missed out anything about Shig, but until then, I stand firm that this chapter didn’t add much story for me.

On the topic of gameplay for this chapter though, offering to bring the severed head back to the victim ghost was a big troll attempt. I was stuck in this chapter for a while because I thought I screwed up with it some how. I actually did many variations and even restarted the whole chapter, trying to get the head to the ghost before taking out the key because I thought it’s because we took the key that the characters thought the head was too creepy to hold. I even tried to pick up the head w/o the bucket several times.

The choices that come after the head event didn’t help either. On my first try, I chose ‘run’ and BOOM! Sachi in my face. So I was like, “Oh. Okay, it was just Taguchi”, and chose to ‘wait’ on my second try, but then BOOM! Yoshikatzu in my face.

I was trolled hard…

Chapter 6 – Mire

Synopsis

This is easily the worst chapter in the entire game hands down (to the point that I don’t even know why this chapter existed) for two reasons:

  1. It tried to give Kizami a sound reason for his psychopathic nature (which ended up making him even more of a psychopath than he already is).
  2. It was a huge fan feast for Yuka-haters with no story behind it at all.

I believe that this chapter is an alternate story, branched off from one of the wrong ends in the last chapter of the first game. The chapter seems to expand on the events after Yuka was caught, showing what Kizami was trying to do with her. Early into the chapter, Kizami was given his monologue about his past on why he became the psychopath that he is and in my opinion, that… didn’t really change anything. Basically, the story confirmed that this guy was born mentally sick as he enjoys snuffing out other breath of life (and he’s a big jerk since he was small too). He grew up with the society, putting a lid on his ‘Id’, but eventually, being in Heavenly Host removes that lid away from him and he goes full psychopath. The monologue goes on with how he thought he could atone for his sins and… seriously… it was full of crap.

After Kizami’s screen time, we are given control of Yuka who successfully escaped from danger but fell down into the bomb shelter. There, she ran into Sachiko, the drama queen who pretended to be a cutesy poor ghost girl. Yuka buys into Sachiko’s Oscar-Tier performance and eventually, she becomes Sachiko’s personal toy and is slowly tortured to her death.
Yes.
No story at all.
Just Sachiko slowly torturing Yuka.

Comment

So… yeah…
Why does this chapter exist again?
Kizami’s past was a big pile of crap, shoved down the players’ throat, and that did not make me feel sorry for him at the slightest. In fact, it makes me feel even more relief that someone as dangerous as him stays behind at the abominated school.
As for the second half of the chapter, congratulations Yuka’s potty adventure haters, you get to see her die a horrible gruesome death. For Yuka-fans or people who are neutral for Yuka, hang in there. The exploration in this chapter is short, and there is always the speed text button.

Chapter 7 – Tooth

Synopsis

This chapter was a nice breather from the past two chapters, and it’s fairly fun as we get to see a good number of new characters.

The chapter focused on the remaining students from the Byakudan High School, outside of Mitsuki, Fukuroi, and Kurosaki, who we’ve already seen them in chapter 5. We took the role of Tohko (who unfortunately had a crush on the psychopathic Kizami) as we search around the Heavenly Host for an exit.
Eventually, the story continues to the point that can only be described as the “Rise of Kizami’s Madness”. He punched Tohko in the face (DAMN YOU!!!) and broke her tooth. Struggling, Tohko locked herself inside the Infirmary, and we know where this is going…

Comment

I don’t have much to discuss about this chapter. Granted, it didn’t add a lot of new story as well, but the new casts made the chapter amusing enough for me.
…Also, is it wrong that I found Tohko really cute…?
So far, none of the Corpse Party girls looked that appealing to me at all.
Screw you, Kizami. That’s a further minus on the manliness scale…

Chapter 8 – Blood Drive

Synopsis

After 7 chapters of alternate and spin-off stories, we finally get a ‘real sequel’ to the first game.

The story starts off with Naomi (who has slightly recovered from her mental breakdown seen in the game’s OP) trying to talk to Seiko’s siblings. However, Ayumi pops up and stops her from doing so.
The class rep told Naomi that she has done some researches about Sachiko’s Curse and found that Sachiko’s house is not very far off from the city they are in now. Perhaps there could be something – ANYTHING – that might save their poor friends that were stuck in Heavenly Host.
Without hesitation, Naomi agreed and got on the train with Ayumi.
The two girls reach a rural village and ask around for a direction to the Shinozaki Estate. The villagers shunned upon hearing the word ‘Shinozaki’ and quickly chased them away. Fortunately, the two girls were able to get up on the hills to the estate with a help of a kind uncle. At the end of the road, the two girls got down from the uncle’s car and climbed up the hills towards the estate.
However, the two girls found nothing up there. Disappointed, they returned to the kind uncle below, only to realize that he is gone. With the sun already set, the two girls decide to find a shelter to rest for the night. That was when they were in for a surprised, when the Shinozaki Estate suddenly appears before them. The house is radiating an eerie blue glow, indicating that this is no ordinary house. Getting ready, the two girls entered the mysterious ghostly house.

Here we go…

Inside the house where Yoshie and Sachiko used to live, the two girls searched the place and found an unexpected truth: It appears that Sachiko’s family (Shinozaki) descended from a family of witches (And Ayumi’s family even shared the same root).
Yes, that’s right, the Sachiko and Yoshie that we’ve known are witches.
Not only they found the family tree, they also found a mysterious tome – The Book of Shadows.

Yes, the book which had the honor of being this game’s title finally made its appearance in this last chapter.

Inside the tome, various ancient magic secrets are recorded, but the most interesting one is the Resurrection spell – a spell that brings the dead back to life. With nothing to lose, the two girls attempted to revive one of their friends. They picked Mayu since the ritual requires a photo of that person and Ayumi happens to have a photo of Mayu.

However, the ritual fails and the two girls experienced the recoil. Just when they were about to die, Ayumi’s elder sister, Hinoe, appears out of nowhere and sprinkles glowing dust on them, stopping the two girls from getting killed. Just when Ayumi and her sister get to reunite, Hinoe’s head blows up into a fountain of blood and a big fat ‘TO BE CONTINUED’ covered the screen.

Comment

Uh… Yes… A big TROLOLOLOL in our face at the end. There are so many new questions that popped up in this chapter and we are left with nothing but question marks. Normally, this warrants ‘bad writing’, but, to be fair, considering how this chapter was meant to be some kind of a ‘prologue’ or ‘teaser’ to the actual sequel, it does a great job in creating this (frustrating) cliff hanger.

I’ve been fairly neutral to the series after clearing the first game, but after this cliffhanger, I’m actually hyped to get my hands on Blood Drive right now.

Overall Impression

With the exception of Chapter 1 – “Seal”, most of the remaining chapters ranged from ‘good, but can be better’ to ‘why does this even exist?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being ‘awesome’, this game gets a 6.5 from me.

Yeah. As a semi-sequel, fans of the series might enjoy this game one way or the other. For non-fans and people who’ve never played the first game before, I’d say it’ll be fairly hard to keep them hooked since many of the stuffs wouldn’t even make sense to them (i.e., Seiko running away from Naomi).

I got someone asking me if I’m gonna be getting 2U, Blood Drive, and Dead Patient or not (which almost sounded like ‘have you lost all faith in this series?’ lol).

Let me clarify that I do NOT hate this game and I’m still a fan of the series. I’m writing this review from an entirely neutral point-of-view. Most of the jokes I poked in the review were to keep it from giving the depressing tone the game gave.
So yes, I’ll still be getting those games should we get an English release. Blood Drive gave me a good amount of incentive to get PSV too.

Most of my story critics can be seen as subjective, so I’m more than happy to discuss should you have an entirely different view. Just leave a comment on this page and we can discuss.

And that’s it for my review. Hope you guys enjoyed reading it, and I’ll see you again next time.

For now, enjoy the awesome OP of the game AGAIN! 😀

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