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PS Vita Game Review
In Corpse Party: Blood Drive for the PS Vita, you play Ayumi, a young Japanese schoolgirl. The game follows on from the Corpse Party: Book of Shadows game and is the concluding game in the Heavenly Host Elementary School Saga.
In the previous game Ayumi had used a book of spells ending in her hospitalisation and the death of a number of her friends. When she returns to school no one, apart from those directly involved, remembers either the events or their missing school companions. However, she does meet Aiko who tells her of a dangerous way of returning her friends from the land of the dead, using the grimoire, the book of shadows.
To be fair to the game, this is more akin to an interactive novel with some top down 3D RPG elements used as a link. A lot of your time is going to be spent scrolling through screens of text with little or no ability to interact with your character. Occasionally you can see some movement going on in the background, but a lot of time is spend reading text against a static background and the only thing which changes is the character who is currently speaking. All of the speech is in Japanese, hence the subtitles, and you have little to do except hit the X button for the next set of text.
The RPG elements allow you to explore certain limited environments to seek both clues and useful objects. There are a number of puzzles to solve, but none of these are terribly difficult. You will find yourself spending time running away from spirits though this option is limited, hiding in cupboards or using talismans to ward them off. Get caught and you die.
Despite the cute looking characters, the game goes all out to create real tension, if not actual horror. Inference is used on many occasions, effectively throwing the player back on their own imagination. This relies heavily on the very effective audio track and screaming actors and the Darkening, which is a system by which your character, if full, goes extremely mad. This is mitigated by various objects which can be found throughout the game.
The RPG element also holds various objects, holes, piano wire, which can sap your HP, but there are also bandages to discover which can replenish you. As you wander the dark corridors you have to be sure to keep your eye out for batteries. Your torch, like your running, has a bar which deletes the more you use it.
There are some things which start to annoy if you play for a long time. Going between elements or places brings up a loading screen. The problem is that the loading screen effectively kills any tension and happens way too often. Likewise, the text is displayed at a very slow pace, you can, of course speed this up with judicious use of the X button, but this will find the player spending a lot of time having little to do apart from hitting X.
If you can buy into the characters, the plot is well written, a lot like Silent Hill, going more for creeping you out, than anything else. Plus, even though it is part of an on-going franchise the game works well as a standalone.
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