Originally released in 2014 for the PlayStation Vita, CORPSE PARTY: BLOOD DRIVE was the third main entry in the horror series. Picking right up where its predecessor left off, players were treated to a well-written story that served as the end of the initial series (a new game called Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient released several years later in Japan and started a new storyline). However, rather than being beloved for wrapping up the series’ loose ends, Blood Drive was a divisive title in the series due to its shift to 3D models and slew of technical issues that showcased the hardware limitations. Now that it is on PC, players can more easily appreciate the horror game’s strengths as many of its faults have been minimized even if the move to PC hasn’t solved all of its issues.
The Corpse Party series has never stuck to many conventions from a gameplay standpoint, but its gore-filled story and descriptive writing has been found in every installment. This writing helped the original become a hit despite being a fairly limited title running off of RPG Maker. It was later followed up with Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, a visual novel with some mild point-and-click sections that focused on scaring players through its words and occasionally showing some frightening art. Blood Drive moved away from that as it went back to the gameplay of the original, as players explored a haunted school filled with deadly ghosts and traps.
As far as the series goes, Blood Drive is easily the most advanced of the games as it is a full-blown survival horror game with a manageable inventory of health items and ghost-killing talismans. However, it has one huge flaw that significantly undercuts the entire experience: the malformed chibi art style it employs. Rather than being scary, watching a cute chibi character repeatedly stab themselves or get attacked by a ghost is just funny in a Happy Tree Friends way. It also uses these models rather than 2D artwork (although there is some of it) for key scenes, which means the player has to rely less on their imagination and the descriptive text.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive PC Review | A flawed but worthwhile experience
Since there aren’t many ways to take care of ghosts, a lot of Blood Drive is spent running away from them as the player attempts to figure out the mystery behind the Heavenly Host Elementary School. The game does a poor job of guiding the player around, as making progress is usually dependent on solving basic puzzles or just luckily stumbling into the right room. Because of this, a lot of the initial hours are spent being lost inside the haunted school. Players will eventually get a grasp of the layout, but the gameplay, even if it is more advanced than its predecessors, is far from a highlight. It is serviceable at best, with a very few spooky moments actually happening since the ghosts are just basic character models covered in a black shroud. They’re only slightly more frightening than people with bed sheets over their heads.
But the gameplay isn’t why people come to Corpse Party. The horror game’s saving grace is that the story is truly captivating once it starts ramping up for its dramatic ending. While the writing in the series has always had a layer of schlock attached to it (such as the infamous “butter up my pooper” line in the original), the big story beats are compelling enough that fans will put up with the passable gameplay that tends to drag if you’re lost.
The sizable adventure spans 11 main chapters and there are eight additional extra ones that help flesh out characters, primarily the antagonists. This means that players are getting a good amount of content here, which includes higher-quality cinematic images that are interspersed throughout the game. While there is only a few of these images in the main story and some of the more gruesome moments fall flat because of it, the artwork that is there looks gorgeous and adds a layer of fear that the 3D models lack.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive PC Review | Made better by being on PC
The biggest advantage to the newly released PC version is how much more technically sound than the original. Rather than dealing with a bad frame rate or lengthy loading screens, players instead get to experience the game as intended. Every aspect of the experience is improved from the graphics to the gameplay because of the PC’s more powerful hardware. There’s still not much of nuance to its brand of survival horror, but the sharpened graphics make traps stick out a bit more and the new Heavenly Host feel a bit more spooky.
The game also handles just fine on PC as the controls easily map to a keyboard. Using the “WASD” keys to move in a 3D space is slightly less precise than an analog stick, so players might run into a few traps if they aren’t moving cautiously, but it isn’t much of an issue once a player gets used to the control scheme. Overall, it’s an excellent port for a game that wasn’t designed with PC in mind when it was originally developed.
Corpse Party: Blood Drive still has almost all of the same issues with its core gameplay, but the PC version is the definitive way to play the final chapter of the horror series. The original PlayStation Vita release was plagued with technical issues and they have all been ironed out for this re-release five years later. For that reason and the strong storytelling that can put players on edge, this port is worth it for those into this style of game, even if it still struggles to instill fear on players due to its conflicting art style and limited 3D graphics. Warts and all, it is a great way for players to experience a flawed game just before the final Heavenly Host arc comes out stateside later this month.