The Vita is a handheld system a lot of people would say is struggling. Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is in a genre that outside of Japan, struggles to get any attention. Put those two together and you’re in for a treat right? Well Corpse Party: Book of Shadows will not please many people, but those that like the genre, will find an engrossing, if not inconsistent story filled with atmosphere.
The original Corpse Party released for PSP in 2011 and Book of Shadows , the sequel keeps the formula rather the same, but changes up some of the original game’s problems. Gone are the ghost chases and instead the game focuses a lot more on telling the story, something that makes the experience better. The game is broken down into eight chapters, each one focusing on a different character. The game does focus as well, on some of the characters from the original game so those that dive into Book of Shadows new, will be left out in the dark somewhat. It’s not that the story will become incoherent; Rather, you won’t feel as invested in certain characters and story threads simply because the writers were expecting you to have a certain connection with them.
So with a game like this, it’s all about the writing. Pacing and building an atmosphere with both the visual and audio elements is quite tricky. However, for the most part, it is executed brilliantly. Unfortunately, some character’s stories are much stronger than others. Some stories may drag or take some time to get into, but others have you captivated from the opening dialogue, keeping you guess, wondering, and even feeling uneasy and sometimes genuinely anxious to press a button to continue the story. Easily the high point of both characters and storytelling and writing is the story of Kizami. It’s dark, sadistic and even invites you into the mind of a boy terrified of death and on his journey to committing his first kill. Everything is executed perfectly from writing to atmosphere, I was hooked and just wanted to explore more into the story.
The game, however, isn’t just reading dialogue. At times you will be given some freedom to roam the environment and interact with objects to solve a problem. In typical horror game fashion, there is a lot of wandering and back tracking but its acceptable and never too much.
The game will also give you choices that will ultimately lead you to either a bad ending or a good ending. This choice obviously gives the game some replay value and the outcomes can be very satisfying.
There’s not a huge amount I can say about Corpse Party: Book of Shadows without ruining something. It’s a horror game that plays out like an interactive novel that features a lot of eerie scenarios. If you ever believe reading a story can never scare you then definitely try this out to change your opinion. I used this title as night reading a couple of times and on more than one occasion I had to stop because the atmosphere builds up so well that you can’t help but feel uneasy and not safe anymore. It’s an incredible achievement in what it aims to do. Unfortunately it is for a very niche audience but those who welcome it, will not be disappointed.