Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: PSN (PSP, Vita)
Release Date: January 15, 2013
ESRB: M for Mature
A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review
It looks like our unfortunate crew from the original Corpse Party has become trapped in the cursed and hellish Heavenly Host Elementary again. That“s okay, though, because now we get more of the delicious horror that the Corpse Party series has to offer! But is Corpse Party: Book of Shadows worth the expense of having our high school crew experience the terrors of Sachiko and the elementary school a second time?
Book of Shadows isn“t a prequel or a sequel. Rather, it“s a handful of short stories that take place in an alternative universe or set before, during, or after the events of the previous game. And in those chapters containing alternate universe experiences, our protagonists have an inkling of knowledge as to what“s in store for them. Maybe some of them will be able to prevent their grisly and unfortunate fates this timeâ€¦
As such, it is highly recommended that you have played the original Corpse Party through to the end before getting your hands on Book of Shadows. There are immense amounts of references made to the previous game that would go unnoticed to a newbie of Corpse Party. There“s also that valuable knowledge you would need from the original Corpse Party in order to understand much of Book of Shadows, such as who Sachiko is and why she“s in Heavenly Host Elementary.
Nonetheless, does Book of Shadows even add anything of worth to the Corpse Party universe? Sure, it gives us more of that horror, violence, and gore that we all love so much. The writing is also superb as usual and adds even more to that with sickeningly wonderful descriptions and whatnot. However, I think I preferred the original Corpse Party“s story a bit more to Book of Shadows“. The alternate universe tales in Book of Shadows feel pointless at times and they“re pretty much left without any sort of conclusion. The chapters that offer points-of-view from minor characters of the previous game are pretty fun, though.
Book of Shadows also offers an unlockable extra chapter that shines light onto what happens approximately two weeks after the events of the original game. You“ll be able to unlock it either by importing a beaten save file from the first game or by seeing every single wrong and clear end in Book of Shadows. It is very much worth putting effort into getting and playing through this chapter (even if the conclusion to it is veryâ€¦ weird).
As you may have figured, Book of Shadows puts a lot into its story. Thus, it“s a game that is more suited for visual novel enthusiasts. There are some long stretches of pure text and reading, so it can be pretty tedious during these parts with no important decisions popping up and no exploring to do.
A big step up from the original Corpse Party includes the options to skip previously seen text and the ability to save at any time (even during important decisions). The lack of both of these made getting all the wrong ends in the previous game an absolute chore. Now that Book of Shadows does feature such integral visual novel elements, it makes completing the game 100% much easier and more satisfactory.
When Book of Shadows isn“t playing its part as a visual novel, it acts out as a point-and-click adventure game. That means there“s no more of the little pixel sprites walking around that you may have become accustomed to in the original game. I somewhat miss those retro-looking graphics, but this new style is just as fine. It also means there“s no more of those irritating chase scenes from the previous game.
Now, onto the audioâ€¦ Oh, the beautiful audio. As in the original Corpse Party, it“s as good as ever and undoubtedly the best element of Book of Shadows. Since the game uses 3D binaural audio effects, it“d be a grave mistake to play without headphones. With headphones on, you“ll hear terrifying sounds and voices from seemingly all around you. It's absolutely realistic and adds so much to the experience, especially at moments like when the evil little Sachiko is whispering and cackling in your ear.
The audio itself without the help of the binaural effects is still perfection. I personally prefer English dubs in my games (and therefore usually won“t throw a fit when a game is localized without an option for the original Japanese voice-acting), but the original voice work for this game is top-notch. The voice actors do an impeccable job in capturing emotions such as fear, pain, or malice. It“s as believable as it can get. The rest of the sound work, too, is just as great. You“ll definitely squirm and wince at some of the sound effects that the game will throw at you. Maybe even gag and vomit.
As for bonus content, Book of Shadows offers a bit of that for completionists out there. Nametags of dead students that are scattered around Heavenly Host Elementary are once again collectable throughout the game. You are also able to view all the beautiful (and sometimes disgusting) CG artwork and listen to music tracks that you“ve come across in your playthrough. Wonder what the voice actors have to say about Book of Shadows? Well, lucky you, because voice actor interviews are unlockable in here! And last, but not least, is a mode where you can construct your own custom conversations from a selection of the game“s voiced lines.
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a bloody good time. The scares and violence will please any horror fan, and the visual novel fanatics out there will surely love its story and writing. The audio and voice work is so, so good – some of the best out there! Sure, Book of Shadows has some of its own little issues and some pointless moments, but it“s still pretty sick and very much worth playing through.
+ Voice-acting and sound work is phenomenal and amplifies the experience
+ Well-done writing that does a fantastic job at describing scenes
+ Neat unlockables such as voice actor interviews and a custom conversation-constructing mode
- Newcomers that have not played the original Corpse Party may feel incredibly lost
- The alternate universe stories don“t add much to the series“ overall story/mythos and feel somewhat pointless
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a must-have for anyone that enjoys horror and visual novels. Play the previous game before this, though!