• Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PC)

    Game Info:

    Corpse Party: Book of Shadows 
    Developer: MAGES. Inc. 5pb
    Published by: XSEED Games, Marvelous USA Inc.
    Release Date: October 29, 2018
    Available on: Windows, macOS, PSP, PS Vita
    Genre: Visual Novel, Horror
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Mature for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you XSEED Games for the review code!

    So today's game is definitely a niche title, not something for mainstream audiences. However, this game does have quite a famous cult following; it has spawned several movies, mangas, and a weird dating sim. I would even say that Corpse Party is probably what inspired some of the modern horror visual novels like Umineko or Higurashi. Let's find out just how terrifying a haunted high school in Japan can be. This is Corpse Party: Book of Shadows.

    Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is meant to fill in details the first game did not explore; they also explore several what-if scenarios and moments deviating from the original game. Each chapter has you play as different characters during different moments in the game's main timeline.

    If you want to play this game and you're just getting into the series, play Corpse Party first. If you're a newcomer and you start with Book of Shadows, these chapters won't make a lot of sense to you. As for the chapters themselves, they are ok but I still don't know why I should have cared. The first chapter, for example, focuses on the characters Naomi Nakashima and Seiko Shinohara. The only thing this chapter does is reinforce how doomed these two girls really are. I have actually played the original game and I completed it 100 percent. I didn't need to see Seiko die a new way. I didn't need the game to tell me, “Hey, remember these two, yea they are still screwed!” Each of the chapters has this problem to some effect.

    Corpse Party: Book of Shadows

    Strong Points: It is lovingly crafted for fans of the original series; The art style is well drawn.
    Weak Points: Darkening mechanic feels irrelevant and unnecessary; Poor localization; Not as scary as it wants to be.
    Moral Warnings: A few naughty jokes here and there; Extremely gory; occult element

    The final chapter sets up for the next game in the series, Corpse Party: Blood Drive. If you have a save file from the original game on the PC, the final chapter will be automatically unlocked. If you are playing this game for the first time before Book of Shadows then you have to get every bad end in the game before the final chapter unlocks.

    The gameplay is typical fare for a visual novel; there are some exploratory and point-and-click elements when you're exploring different rooms in the game but it's mostly just watching cutscenes and making choices to see what happens next. The “darkening” mechanic in the game isn't as interesting as some people made it out to be. By examining certain objects a meter goes up that makes your vision in the game hazier and you start seeing things that may not be there. If it gets to 100 percent, in some chapters it leads to a game over, in others, it leads to bad endings. This mechanic felt like a barrier to get to 100 percent and it didn't add to my fear in the game in the slightest. The Artstyle and music are pleasing at least; the anime style is well drawn and the sound adds to the ambiance of fear.

    The worst part of the game was the localization. I've been taught before that the hardest part about translating Japanese to English when it comes to video games and movies, is that certain references or jokes just don't translate over very well. At that point, the localization team usually has one of three options. They either directly translate the lines, they try to Americanize the joke or reference, or they write entirely new dialogue. The problem is I am unsure what option XSEED Games took. The Japanese voice acting was kept in the game, we have no english voice actor options, so some of the lines did not match the voice acting at all. You'll hear it in the tone and length of the voices compared to the sentence. I also got assistance from friends who knew Japanese, just to make sure I wasn't hearing things Some of the jokes and references felt out of place as well. The game had a lot of grammatical errors too. The bosses here at Christ Centered Gamer know I am a bit of a lazy bum when it comes to editing my own pieces; maybe they should have been grammar sticklers for this game too.

    Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 38%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 6/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

    Finally, let's talk fear factor with a game like this. Corpse Party may have been one of the first visual novel horror games and it has its place in niche gaming history, however, if you're used to horror, it's just not that scary anymore. The shock of cute anime characters suffering brutal deaths doesn't work like it used to. Corpse Party: Book of Shadows adds time loops and multiple timelines to this series and that just feels like a lazy excuse to keep it going and to use the same characters until the curse is over in later games. If you really want a good scare, other games do it much better than Corpse Party.

    On morality, sure we have a few sparse naughty jokes like a girl who wants to grab butts, however, the main attraction is blood, guts, and gore galore. The deaths are not just caused by stabs or gunshot wounds either; you will see characters getting brutally tortured in multiple ways. It also has an occult element; that's how these students got trapped in this school in the first place. If you're a concerned parent, no one under the age of 17 should play this game.

    Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is ok if you're a fan looking to know the entire story, or if you're a gamer who wants to examine a famous game from overseas. If you are looking for a game that has a well-written horror story or you just want the pants scared off of you, look somewhere else.

  • Devotion (PC)


    Game Info:

    Developed by: Red Candle Games Co.,LTD.
    Published by: Winking Entertainment
    Release date: February 19, 2019
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Survival horror
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $16.99

    Thank you Winking Entertainment for sending us this game to review!

    Devotion is another rare title in my Steam library that’s no longer available. The game was launched and pulled from Steam a week later due to some artwork that insulted China’s leader, Xi Jingpin. Hopefully, it will be re-released someday as the two-hour story is quite intriguing.

    Most of this adventure-styled horror game is played from the perspective of Du Feng Yu, a Taiwanese father whose daughter, Du Mei Shin, is suffering from breathing troubles. Du Feng Yu was a successful screenwriter, but nobody is interested in is recent offerings. The mother, Gong Li Feng, was a successful singer, but retired to raise her daughter.


    Strong Points: Interesting story and visuals
    Weak Points: No longer available; not very long
    Moral Warnings: Blood; bodily mutilation; religious cult

    Between the medical issues, bills, and lack of income, there is some friction between the parents.  The mother wants to return to the film industry to help financially, but by doing so will hurt her husband’s pride.  She also wants to pull the family away from the religious cult that’s in the same apartment building as them.  When Western medicine was unable to help their daughter, he consulted Mentor Heuh and followed her advice since it worked once already.

    The story is told by hopping between the apartment through three different years: 1980, 1985, and 1986. By piecing together the past, you can see a better future. Items you gather between the years can be carried through and used to solve various puzzles. For example, a combination lock is found on a photograph of a picture that you have to retake since the current version is blurry. Once the picture is perfected, you’ll have the needed combination.

    Some of the story is told through the daughter’s perspective. She looks up to her mother and wants to be a professional singer like her. She’s obedient to her father but dislikes some of the medicine and religious practices done to her. She also considers him a liar because of a family trip that was canceled.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay: 15/20
    Graphics: 8/10
    Sound: 8/10
    Controls: 5/5

    Morality Score - 70%
    Violence: 0/10
    Language: 10/10
    Sexual Content: 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 5/10

    One of the more unique gameplay aspects was playing through her favorite children’s book. The visuals in that segment were very colorful and happy compared to the dreary and dark overtones of the rest of the game. In fact, the game is very unsettling and managed to jump scare me at least once.

    Though most of the characters are depicted as dolls and mannequins, they’re still pretty creepy. Lots of blood is shown. Towards the end of the game, you control the father while he plucks out an eye and pulls out his tongue to appease the god, Cigu Guanyin. Such offerings should not be required from a god of compassion.

    Other than those gruesome scenes, and an annoying chasing scenario, I enjoyed my time in Devotion. Though I’m not a fan of survival horror games, this one’s story was worth experiencing. Hopefully, it will become available again so others can see it too.

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted (Switch)


    Game Info:

    Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
    Developed by: Steel Wool Studios
    Published by: Steel Wool Games
    Release date: May 21, 2020
    Available on: Switch, PSVR, PC
    Genre: Horror
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: T for Teen- Fantasy Violence
    Price: $29.99

    Thank you Steel Wool Games for sending us a review code for Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted on the Nintendo Switch.

    In 2014, game designer and publisher Scott Cawthon had this crazy idea. He had just finished a family-friendly game called Chipper and Sons Lumber Co. The game was not incredibly popular, and the initial reviews of the game were quite negative. One of the main criticisms that Cawthon received was that his characters were a little “creepy” and they moved more like terrifying animatronics than actual living things. Cawthon could have taken these criticisms the wrong way thus hindering any future development of games. However, instead of hindering him, the critiques only inspired him. If people thought his characters looked like creepy animatronics, then that is exactly what they would get. Thus Five Nights at Freddy’s was born.

    Cawthon, who formerly developed Christian video games including A Christmas Journey and Pilgrim’s Progress, had found his niche in childlike terror. Five Nights at Freddy’s would quickly move from being a cult hit enjoyed by YouTube stars and streamers to being a full-fledged pop-culture icon. T-shirts, comic books, novelizations, and yes, even an impending movie were just a few of the many manifestations of this popular game. It would seem as if everyone loves a good jump scare, and nothing seems to scare people more than experiences in VR.

    With a catalog of at least six games, it was only a matter of time before FNAF made it to VR. That is where Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted comes in. This game is the VR experience that fans have been waiting for featuring seven mini-games, three of which are remakes of the first three games in the franchise. Each game is a different experience, yet they all use the same gimmick that the franchise is known for: heart-pounding jump scares.

    Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted

    Strong Points: Great collection of FNAF minigames; updated visuals; fantastic audio mixing
    Weak Points: Terrible controls; often too difficult
    Moral Warnings: Too scary for younger players; some mention of ghosts and spirits

    Now, it must be noted that I played this game on the Nintendo Switch. I would imagine that the experience is quite different with an actual VR setup, however, the core gameplay is the same, along with the point and click interface. The game itself is huge: a whopping 13 gigabytes for a digital download. That is pretty cumbersome for the hybrid console, but the proof is in the pudding; this game is terrifyingly gorgeous.

    The visuals are the first aspect of this title that pops out. The first three games have received a major facelift, and as a result, they are more terrifying than ever. The seven mini games featured in this title are all presented as “experiences” from Fazzbear Industries. So, within the story, this is a PR stunt by the corporation to downplay what happened in the other games. The simulation is quite convincing, as each of the experiences offers plenty of jump scares to go around.

    Most of the games have the same general mechanics. Think of them like a type of scary game of Red Light, Green Light. You play as a security guard or repairman in any given minigame, and you must determine how many times to turn on the lights or activate the cameras to stop the animatronics from getting to you. In one game, you have to repair the broken down robots by following the instructions from the announcer. Whatever the minigame may be, the lighting, or lack thereof, is perfectly in tune with the action, and it provides plenty of terror for the player. Even the creepy sounds and music are very well mixed and only heighten the frightening experiences. In fact, this port would be a nearly perfect rendition of the FNAF universe if it were not for the fact that it is a VR game that is not even close to being VR.

    Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 62%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 2/5
    Controls - 0/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    The problem is the controls. This is not a problem with the game itself, but rather with the Switch port. Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted was originally a VR title, and the buttons and levers could be pressed through using a VR interface. That did not come over to the Switch port, because players must instead use the analog stick to control a cursor to press the buttons in the game. The analog stick responds far worse than the hand controls on any home console, and that is especially true for this game.

    I have played FNAF titles on PC and did quite well because I could react quickly with the mouse, but I could barely do anything on this Switch port. I found myself struggling to move the tiny cursor over the small buttons or levers to interact with the environments, and that caused a great deal of frustration as I lost over and over and over again. This game does not make use of the Switch touch screen or the gyroscopic controls; it all hinges on how well you can use the thumbsticks, which is difficult for even the most proficient of gamers.

    Despite the fact that this is a shoddy port on the Switch, it must be noted that this game is still rather reserved, as far as horror games are concerned. The T for Teen rating is appropriate since there is no blood or gore presented within the content. However, with each jump scare it is assumed that the mechanical monsters do kill the player. The narrator is very funny, though a little sarcastic, and he never uses any foul language. It is suggested within the story that the animatronics are being controlled by ghosts and evil spirits. Regardless, don’t let the childlike veneer fool you; this game is very frightening, and younger players may want to steer clear from it until they get a little older.

    Everything considered, I can’t say that I actually enjoyed Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted on the Nintendo Switch because I could not get the controls to work for me. I would like to play the title on an actual VR setup, because I bet the experience would be far more enjoyable. With that said, it’s not that this game is bad, it is just the case that the port is poor and does not allow for the player to enjoy the game as was intended. If you want this game, I would recommend getting it on PC or the PS4 VR and not the Switch. After all, you can’t survive Five Nights at Freddy’s if you can’t even see him coming!

  • Just Ignore Them (Switch)


    Game Info:

    Just Ignore Them
    Developer: Stranga Games
    Publisher: GrabTheGames
    Release Date: October 18, 2018 (Switch Release)
    Available On: Steam, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
    Genre: Horror, Adventure
    ESRB Rating: M 17+ Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence, Language
    Number of Players: 1 offline
    Price: $3.99

    Thank you, Ratalaika Games, for sending us a copy of Just Ignore Them on the Nintendo Switch!

    I am not really a fan of anything scary. It’s not that I scare easily, I just don’t enjoy the feeling of my amygdala tightening up under stress. That’s right, fear is the literal tightening of the emotional center of your brain. However, when duty calls, I have no problem with undergoing a little “brain strain.” I’ve asked my editor here at CCG to assign me random games to review so that I can go into the playthrough process with a clear head. We both believe that variety is the spice of life, so why not try something new and different? That is how the pixelated horror title, Just Ignore Them, made it to my Nintendo Switch. To be honest, I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

    Despite my apprehensions, I was able to make it through Just Ignore Them with my sanity intact. Of course, I had every light in my house on while I played it, but I made it through nonetheless. The playthrough only took a couple of hours, as this game is very short. However, it did provide an ample amount of fright and terror, but I can’t say that those emotions came from the monsters in the game, but rather from the gameplay itself.

    Just Ignore Them

    Strong Points: Decent pixel art; makes great use of the touch screen on the Switch 
    Weak Points: Mediocre story with poor dialogue; rigid analog controls; short and unfulfilling gameplay
    Moral Warnings: Very mature theme; plenty of violence and gore; strong langue with sexual innuendos; shows the use of magic for evil purposes

    Just Ignore Them is a point and click adventure/horror game that is divided into four separate acts. It revolves around a young man named Mark who is constantly being chased by monsters wearing white masks. These monsters started off by being Mark's friends, but as he got older they began to hurt people that Mark got close to. After witnessing the brutal murder of his mother, Mark goes on a journey to find out about these monsters and how to stop them. He can’t run fast enough, however, because those fiends are always one step behind him!

    As a writer of fiction myself, I didn’t find the story of Just Ignore Them to be very engaging. With only 4 acts, each of which took about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, the pace of the game did not allow for a deep development of the narrative. The dialogue was almost juvenile, and it didn’t seem to fit with the dark theme of man-eating monsters running amok. Mark and Brea, the other protagonist in this game, share awkward moments that usually resulted in some sexual innuendo or sarcastic remark to dull the tension in the narrative. Unfortunately, tension was something that did not come too often within this tale. Good stories consist of rising and declining tensions and Just Ignore Them does a very poor job of presenting tense moments that lead toward genuine fear. The action goes from event to event without too many surprises ramping up the fright factor.

    Since good scares are not really achieved in this game, the only redeemable factors that it has is its interface and art style. The Switch version allows the player to simply push the screen in order to get the characters to interact with the environment. This provides a nice reprieve from using the analog, which is unforgiving and rigid. However, this game does not take full advantage of the Switch’s widescreen and chooses to restrict the play within a square space. This is no doubt partly due to the port from the PC, but it scales down the action screen quite a bit. I found it difficult to click on the items that were close together; my fingers were just too large to register the correct interface on the touch screen. This forced me to switch back and forth from using the analog stick and touching the screen, which is something I hate. If wanted to do that, I would go back to playing the Nintendo DS.

    Just Ignore Them
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 60%
    Gameplay - 10/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 30%
    Violence - 0/10
    Language - 2/10
    Sexual Content - 4/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 4/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    The pixel art is very simple but is not distracting from the action. I have found that simple pixel art can be used to enhance frightening experiences in games because the lower amount of detail forces you to focus harder on what is happening on the screen. Pixel art also leaves room for the imagination to create what is not there, so most of the action is actually being perceived in the minds of the players. The almost “cute” aesthetic of characters is offset by the adult themes contained within the story. Trust me, the events within this game are a far cry from “cartoon violence.”

    It is best to think of Just Ignore Them as an interactive Rated-R low budget horror movie. The game is ripe with adult themes as the initial level has Mark follow a bloody trail to find his mother gutted in her room. There is plenty of sexual innuendo between Mark and Brae, especially in the hotel scene when Mark sees Brea showering through the lens of a hidden camera. Bad language is also present, with the characters spouting out words like a**hole and da**. Surprisingly, the F-word is not used at all, from what I can find. However, it is the gore that truly places this game in a moral vice. Buckets of pixelated blood can be found strewn around the four acts of the game. There are mutilated bodies on an airplane and eviscerated corpses in a secret lab. Even the “good ending” of the game concludes by showing the gruesome aftermath of a monster attack in a local restaurant. 8-bit graphics or not, Just Ignore Them presents too much gore to ignore.

    As far as horror games go, Just Ignore Them provides an adequate terror experience for anyone that is seeking a mediocre, yet creepy thrill. However, the short point and click adventure fails to deliver a fulfilling experience overall. The rigid analog controls combined with the small, claustrophobic playing area provides very little comfort of play. The copious amounts of gore, coupled with the substandard dialogue between characters does not help this game to get off the ground. This title is not appropriate for children, nor do I feel very entertaining for adults. If you want to play this game, it is the right price at $3.99 on all systems, but you might want to ask yourself this question: If it’s not entertaining, fulfilling, or edifying, is it really worth it?

  • Red Bow (Switch)


    Game Info:

    Red Bow
    Developed By: Stranga Games
    Published By: Ratalaika Games
    Released: January 17, 2020
    Available On: Switch, PS4, Steam
    Genre: Horror
    ESRB Rating: T- Mild Blood
    Number of Players: 1 offline
    Price: $4.99 Digitally

    Thank you, Ratalaika Games, for sending us a copy of Red Bow on the Nintendo Switch!

    I have actively reviewed games for CCGR for almost a year, and if it has taught me one thing it is this: you never know what is going to come across the que. I purposely conduct “cold reviews” on games that are sent to me without knowing what I am receiving. I like doing it that way because it not only gives me a challenge, it also presents me with an opportunity to play games that I would never play otherwise. This is certainly the case for the most recent game that I played entitled Red Bow.

    Marketed as a top-down, creepy adventure game, Red Bow is the spiritual successor of another pixelated horror game that I reviewed last year called Just Ignore Them. My review of that game could easily be considered “scathing” by my standards, so you can imagine my hesitation going into another game made by Stranga Games that features similar gameplay and aesthetics. Perhaps the developer learned a few things this time around, because Red Bow not only proved to be superior to Just Ignore Them in overall quality, it also provided a spooky, yet conservative horror experience for more discerning gamers. In other words, all the blood, gore, and foul language were left out of this title.

    Red Bow

    Strong Points: Creepy gameplay without all the gore; well-delivered pixel art; multiple paths to take
    Weak Points: Weak protagonist; very short story; forces players to take a certain path after engaging dialogue; music does not fit the game’s premise
    Moral Warnings: Some blood is shown; the story focuses on spirits who have died horrible deaths

    In Red Bow you play as Roh, a young girl who finds herself in an odd series of dreams where she must choose which apparitions are on her side and which ones are not. Starting off in her bedroom, she seemingly wakes up each day and journeys into a different part of her home, only to find that she is still in an odd purgatory-like dreamscape. She must travel through these places and make the appropriate choices in order to bring the lost souls some peace.

    This game is all about choices, especially when it comes to talking to certain spirits to move the narrative along. It is possible for Roh to discover multiple outcomes within her adventure, some that lead to her success, and others that lead to her demise. It is all about finding certain items at certain times between conversations because when a conversation is started, it pigeonholes Roh into a decision. There are no “yes or no” options when speaking to others, so though this game is based around choices that are made, those choices have to be made without textual prompts or guides. Some players may find this aggravating and misguiding while others might consider it a challenge.

    It is important to first note that Red Bow is not a very long game at all. The description on the website says that it is between one and two hours long, but that is a pretty generous estimation for the content. I played through the game several times to see if I could find all the alternative choices and endings, and each playthrough took me about 25 minutes maximum. If someone is looking for a deep and immersive game to play, Red Bow might be a way to get your toes wet, but that’s about it.

    Red Bow
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 66%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 4/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 64%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 3/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 4/10

    Despite the fact that this is technically an adventure horror game, it doesn’t really present much of a terrifying or adventurous experience. The pixelated graphics are well-rendered, even though many of the spirits look flat and squished. Roh’s character shows little emotion through the game, and that makes it difficult to connect with her as a protagonist. However, the dialogue spoken by support characters and spirits is deep and thought-provoking. Roh seems to just stumble through her adventure oblivious to what’s going on around her.

    Then again, I shouldn’t be too hard on this game because, as I said earlier, it does present quite an improvement from the aforementioned Just Ignore Them. Using some of the same character depictions and art style, the developer does a good job of adding little creepy details that serve this title well. The pixelated movements of the creatures and spirits are unnerving, and the simple color palette allows for the imagination to run a little wild. Unfortunately, the often peppy soundtrack does not match the eerie action of the game. I found it hard to be scared when the music sounded more like it belonged in an upbeat RPG than a horror mystery title.

    Red Bow is a rather visually conservative horror title considering the themes that are presented within the game. Roh meets spirits who have hung themselves, been brutally beaten and drowned, and even murdered through a crime of passion. There are small red pixels that show very little blood on the faces and bodies of some of the characters. Surprisingly, there is no foul language with the narration, Roh even says “Oh my gosh” in place of the alternative. There is, however, a strong emphasis on such ideas as Purgatory and ghosts, which may turn away some players.

    I found playing through Red Bow a moderately enjoyable, albeit short, experience. This game does offer multiple conclusions, some of which will happen early in the game, so it is good to experiment with the order in which you talk with spirits and interact with objects. The game does pigeon-hole players into completing the game one way, so know that many decisions have already been made for you. Just don’t electrocute the pretty lady, she doesn’t like that very much.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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