E3 2015: Hands On: Corpse Party: Blood Drive

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

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Corpse Party: Blood Drive

Time to go back to Heavenly Host Elementary one final time.

While I’ve heard of Corpse Party, I sadly cannot say I’ve ever played the previous two games of the series, save for a few minutes of the first one. So upon picking the Vita to play Copse Party: Blood Drive I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had a lot of questions, and thankfully the rep from XSEED Games was able to provide me quite a few answers. First off a little backstory, though I promise no spoilers for those of you like me who haven’t played these games yet. This is the third chapter in the series and will apparently serve as the conclusion of the story arc. The game takes place after the events of the second game, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, and recaps the events of the true ending for that game. As such, if you haven’t played the previous titles you will have parts of the story spoiled for you. Also I’ve been informed that the story of this game will be focusing more on resolutions and wrapping up the story than the psychological horror that Corpse Party is known for, so this game is meant more for fans of the series looking for answers rather than newcomers to the “party.” Does that mean the game isn’t creepy though? Does it lack the tension that a survival horror game should bring? Well, let’s start with the basic mechanics.

The D-pad and the left control stick will both move your character. Triangle will access your system menu, Circle functions as your action button and X is used to cancel selections and run. However I should note that the Circle and X buttons will be swapped around upon final release to match the standard for US games. As this was an early build of the game the button layout was still one of the things that hadn’t been changed at this point. The other important mechanic to be aware of is your flashlight. The flashlight will be both your saving grace, and possibly your biggest worry depending on how you want to play the game. The flashlight can be turned on and off by pressing the L button and is aimed with the Right Control stick. Its purpose is very simple, to illuminate the many traps and hazards that liter the halls of Heavenly Host Elementary. Simply put, the flashlight could be one of the biggest sources of difficulty as it can run out of power, and if it does you’re in the dark and running into traps you won’t see. In fact this proved to be such a difficulty spike that MAGES. later patched the game to include an option for infinite batteries that can be turned on or off at will by pressing the Select button. This means that if you want to make the game harder and increase the tension you can play with the ability off, but if you would rather just explore and enjoy the experience then you can leave it on and have one less worry in a game where everything, and I do mean everything, wants you dead.

Corpse Party: Blood Drive | Fleshy Stains

Oppressive atmosphere: check; Wandering around in solitude: check; Red grotesque blobs of flesh: double check.

As I mentioned the school itself is full of various traps. Shards of broken glass, weak floorboards, and tripwires liter the school. While the glass can somewhat be seen in the dark as well as the weak floorboards, the tripwires will prove to be one of the biggest dangers. These things can only be seen by shining your flashlight upon them. Thankfully, once you’ve seen them you only need to walk up close to one and press the action button to disarm it. The traps aren’t the only thing to worry about, however. There’s two other very dangerous hazards in the school. First off there are these red, fleshy, pulsating blobs all about the school. Some of them are harmless and just there to add to the creepy atmosphere, while others can harm you by running into them. As for which does which I couldn’t tell even with the flashlight. The other danger are these shadows that will pursue you. These are relentless in their pursuit and should not be taken lightly at all. I’ve been told that while in previous games they may get stuck on furniture or obstacles, in this game they’ve gotten much smarter and can’t be shaken easily, and I can confirm that fact myself.

Upon being pursued your only option is to move as quickly as you can to try and shake your pursuer and find a cabinet to hide in. However, you have limited stamina and if you run for too long you’ll find yourself slowing down until you’re out of breath and a sitting duck. If you do make it to a cabinet though you can slip inside and try to wait out your pursuer. Inside the cabinet you’ll see rings of pulsating light emanate from the center of the screen, much like a radar. The color of the rings indicate how safe you are, with blue meaning something is in the area, and moving through green, yellow, to red depending on how close an enemy is. Seeing red however also means that your pursuer knows where you are and will pull you out of the cabinet. This means you need to put some distance between you and the shadows before jumping into a cabinet or else. There is one saving grace, though, which are talismans. Find one of these and you’ll instantly defeat a pursuer, however the talisman will be consumed and you’ll be vulnerable once again. While I wasn’t able to see it myself, I was told that losing all your health isn’t the only way to die. You also have another stat called “darkening” which functions as sort of a sanity meter. As this stat goes up you’ll start to notice the screen start to become more staticky. If you reach full darkening you’ll fall over dead; just another thing to keep an eye on. So, how does this all come together? Well I played a section of the game taking place in Chapter four of the story to find out.

My playthrough put me in control of Ayumi as she wandered around the school. I was given no direction or goal and was just free to explore. I quickly found myself walking into shards of glass and falling into the floorboards, but quickly began to adjust to the traps… until I quickly found myself under pursuit from one of the shadows. As I mentioned these guys are relentless and will not give up the chase unless you can successfully hide from them, which I was unable to do. In fact the radar in the cabinet at one point showed two shadows that were in the area, one I was trying to lose but couldn’t and one that hadn’t noticed me yet. Try as I might I soon found myself dead and reloaded the save file that placed my back at the start of the demo. My second attempt didn’t go much better as I found myself once again running into traps as I futilely tried to escape from a pair of shadows. With a second death under my belt I decided to stop torturing poor Ayumi and end my playthrough there. So now that I played the game, how did it perform on a technical level?

Corpse Party: Blood drive | RUN

These things seriously want to give you a hug, too bad it’s one that’s gonna kill ya.

This isn’t the most graphically impressive game out there and on the TV screen it didn’t look especially pleasing. In addition, the frame-rate isn’t locked at 30fps and will dip on occasion. As such if you play this on a PlayStation TV to share with friends or to experience it on the big screen, it won’t impress you. However, on the Vita itself the gameplay looks smoother and passable considering this isn’t a fast paced action game. XSEED Games is aware of the frame-rate issues and has asked the developer if they can make some tweaks, though there’s no guarantee that will occur. On the plus side, the lighting from the flashlight looks rather impressive and it does make a difference during gameplay. Sound wise though this game is certainly creepy. While I couldn’t hear every sound due to noise on the hall floor, I was able to get close enough to the Vita to hear many of the sound effects, which I also heard from the TV as it rolled it’s demo footage. More times than not the noises from the TV would freak me out and cause me to panic as I wandered around the school. As for the controls, they work just as they should, nothing felt sluggish or unresponsive. Lengthwise the game will have eleven chapters along with eight extra chapters to play through and will feature other areas to roam through than Heavenly Host Elementary School. All in all I’ve been told it’ll take about 20+ hours to fully complete this one. So with all this taken into account, what’s my personal thoughts?

I have some mixed feelings about this one. While the mechanics of the game feel solid, the graphics and game engine could use some work and these deficiencies will be noticeable on a PlayStation TV, which is a minor gripe, but important for those who want to share the experience with a roommate or friend. While I can’t compare how the atmosphere has changed since the last two games, I can certainly say I felt more than a bit creeped out and oppressed as I wandered the halls of the elementary school. If you’re a fan of the series and searching for answers in this world, which is in 3D for the first time, you’ll  probably find this enjoyable. Newcomers to the franchise though may wish to start with the other two games beforehand though, to see if ready for to attend this party of the dead when it releases this Fall. If you’re curious about how we felt about them, take a look at our review for both Corpse Party and Corpse Party: Book of Shadows which can be found here.

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.