This time around I take a look at the alluringly disturbing Corpse Party: Blood Drive! But will its divergent themes drive me away or draw me in???
Sometimes what we expect from a game can wholly be at odds with what we get in the end. Upon starting it you’ll have this idea in your head that it’s one thing, but by the time you’re finished, you’ll come out the other side struggling to reconcile a mixed bag of emotions. You’ll feel surprised, conflicted, or even both!
Now, subversion of your expectations isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that can often result in a memorable experience where you’ll walk away satisfied and enlightened! But there’s also a chance you’ll be left in an emotional limbo where there’s no clear cut answer to how you feel about what you just witnessed. Either that or it’ll tarnish your innocent view of the world… and cute anime characters.
Well my dear backloggers, this time around I’ll be taking a look at the game that turns kawaii into a killing spree, Corpse Party: Blood Drive. So, leave your sunshine and lollipops at the door, and fortify your delicate sensibilities, because it’s time for another Backlog Review!
Developed by Team GrisGris, Corpse Party: Blood Drive is the third installment to their survival horror adventure game series, Corpse Party! Originally created using RPG Maker, the first game, simply named CORPSE-PARTY, was released in 1996 for the PC-9801. After multiple remakes making their way to Windows PCs and the PSP in Japan, the series wouldn’t see the light of day in the west with a localized version until 2011!
But if it didn’t seem like it bounced around enough, you’ll be happy to know that one last port would finally end up on the 3DS as Corpse Party Blood Covered: Repeated Fear. Including with it additional chapters not found in any of the previous iterations. In the years to come, Corpse Party would be followed up by its direct sequel The Book of Shadows, a few manga, a sprinkling of anime and even a couple live action films! And this train wouldn’t stop either, because it would eventually bring us to the entry in question and the conclusion to this gruesome trilogy, Blood Drive. Which, up until its recent port to the Nintendo Switch, was only available on the PlayStation Vita!
Unfortunately, Blood Drive’s prequels aren’t yet available on the Switch, so if you’re inclined to follow the story from the start, you may need to do some console jumping. We can always hope they’ll land on the eShop as well!
Kawaii Killing Spree
In Corpse Party: Blood Drive, you play as an emotionally shaken group of highschoolers who are recovering from the traumas of surviving their last outing to the deadly Heavenly Host. The nucleus amid a network of spiritual dimensions known as Nirvana and inhabited by malevolent phantoms of its afflicted victims. And after the defeat of its creator, Sachiko Shinozaki, it was thought this realm was sealed away forever.
That is until Ayumi Shinozaki, one of the protagonists of Blood Drive, discovers an alternate means to enter this forbidden domain! And after gaining knowledge that she may be able to resurrect her friends who met their demise the last time they visited Heavenly Host, through the use of the Book of Shadows, she throws caution to the wind and dives back into its eerie halls.
But will she be able to reach her goal without doing more harm than good? And will the other survivors risk their lives to re-enter Heavenly Host and help her?
Honestly, that premise alone had me intrigued from the get go. That’s not to say I wasn’t interested in the Corpse Party games before I played Blood Drive. I mean, I have a penchant for horror and anime after all. And this seemed like the perfect combination of the two. But for whatever reason I never really got around to pulling the trigger until now. Even if I am jumping in at the end of a trilogy.
Now I will admit, I was a little confused at times with what was going on, since the devs assume you’ve played the previous entries. Which is kind of odd considering Blood Drive is the only game of the trilogy ported to the platform, with no real indication that it’s a part of a series. And that’s really too bad because that fact alone creates a barrier to entry. Not to mention it sets the player up for disappointment if they weren’t aware going in. But that’s beside the point. What I really wanted was to figure out what these games were all about, because I didn’t know what to expect!
Blood Drive could have been an RPG with horror elements, or maybe a visual novel with adventure game elements or some combination of those things. But what it actually turned out to be was a visual novel with survival horror elements! Which on its own is kind of intriguing! However, at times, it felt like these two components clashed! On one hand you have light-hearted cutesy anime scenes, where the characters are joking around and being silly. And then on the other hand you have shocking horror scene themed around suicide, violence, murder and depression! I was seriously conflicted the whole time!
It wasn’t just the themes that clashed either. There was disparity in the gameplay and visuals as well! Pleasant and colorful scenes would be contrasted with gory, grotesque imagery while you bounce between novel sized dialog sessions and brief exploration based survival-horror gameplay. And the gameplay itself was not without its own quirks! It was frustrating navigating the dark corridors of Heavenly Host without a map. And it didn’t help that you are given vague instructions for your objectives.
But for some reason I was compelled to play more each and every time I put it down. Truthfully, I think that’s because Blood Drive’s core concept is fascinating! After completing each chapter, I wanted to see what would come next and since it didn’t demand much from me, it wasn’t hard to pick it back up. And I think its saying a lot that now that I’m finished of it, I want nothing more than to play the remaining games in the series.
Although Corpse Party: Blood Drive isn’t a perfect game, and if I’m going to be honest, would probably only appeal to a niche audience, I had a ton of fun. It was a roller coaster of emotions for sure, but it’s left an impression that makes me crave more. It would probably make an easier recommendation if the other two were available on the same platform, but if you’re looking for a dark and twisted horror story mixed with occasional bouts of exploration then I’d say definitely give it a try!
Otherwise, you may be better off reading the manga or popping a big bowl of popcorn and watching the live action films in all of their campy horror movie glory!