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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
Highlights:

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.

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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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