The great thing about Halloween is that there’s always the odd horror game to check out here and there. Really, any time is a good time for horror. Thanksgiving’s a holiday that’s all about chopping up innocent birds, after all, and Christmas has a terrifying giant sneaking into your house to do unmentionable things. Point is: even if your gaming queue if overflowing you can still play Corpse Party: Blood Drive; the question is whether you’ll actually want to.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive is all about horror. Terror, even. Fear in all its purest forms. And loading screens. Lots of horror and also loading screens. While there are five main characters, the survivors of the first Corpse Party game, our focus is on Ayumi, who returns to the haunted elementary school from said game in order to attempt to use the Book of Shadows and bring all her dead friends back to life with the forbidden power of the occult. This isn’t the first time she’s tried this, apparently, and it didn’t go so well then either. We all know the world’s most dangerous phrase: “this time, everything will be different.”
Want more details about the previous games? So do I! There was a haunted school, it led to a lot of people getting killed, and Ayumi did some dumb stuff with a book that she probably shouldn’t have, and that’s pretty much where we are with this one. Blood Drive does not provide these critical details, so you’ll probably need to play them to really get a handle of what’s going on here.
Well, no, what’s really going on here is loading. It never stops. Switch areas and load, open menus and load, do anything and load. I’ve got both a physical and digital copy and the loading just wrecks the experience in either format. The framerate isn’t especially impressive either, especially when you use your flashlight while roaming about; this even shows up in the game’s trailer!
The other quirk about this one that bears mention is the art style. It’s a sort of chibi style; it’s cute, even. Don’t let that fool you; this is a horror game through and through, with some scenes that are fairly brutal even by that genre’s standards. I have no idea why this decision was made, but my only guess is to use the sharp contrast between how the game looks and what actually goes on to enhance the horror aspect of things. It kind of works, honestly.
In terms of gameplay, Blood Drive is a bit like the classic horror title Clock Tower. You run around, avoiding traps as best you can, while you collect items to solve simple puzzles. Every so often you’ll need to escape or hide from baddies as well. That framerate-ruining flashlight can be helpful for getting around, but it’s got limited batteries, unless you push the select button and turn the whole battery system off because…uh…yeah, you can do that for some reason, it was apparently added in the 1.02 patch to the Japanese version.
Like Until Dawn, I found the gameplay aspects of Blood Drive to be stressful more than fun, though I feel like I’d get more out of it if I were familiar with these characters from previous games. It might have been better as a visual novel.
Even if you can get past the odd choice of art styles, the endless, incessant, agonizing loading makes Corpse Party: Blood Drive a difficult game to recommend. I am again stymied by our limited rating system; while I wouldn’t say this game is a good purchase for most, I could easily see series vets getting something out of it, and as they’re the intended audience it gets a recommendation for them. I’m actually told that it’s a must-play for fans. If you’ve not played the previous games this one is easily skipped.