Book of Shadows is not the sequel Corpse Party deserved but the sequel it needed

corpse-party-book-of-shadows

I confess am one of those awfully strange individuals who is of the outlandish opinion that horror ought to have a story, events that one can remember, and why not, characters who one can, fictional and hand-drawn as they may be, be memorable and important. Point is that the audience shouldn’t always believe all that the characters they are reading in a horror are going to perish horribly just because they inevitably are. Regardless of the outcome I would ask horror titles to not be so blatant about it. It’s possible they won’t meet their unspeakable demise. There is the possibility that somewhere there is a good end that no one expected it. That choice is up to the story. The final result only known the moment it happens – hard to predict, obscure.

You know what’s wrong with horror genre nowadays? The mindset that the format of 80 slasher-movies as the standard for all horror, video games linking horror to mostly action. How droll. This is the tired modus operandi of horror writers that transform what ought to be impossibly (deliberately) horrible experience into doses of unintended comedy and abuse of graphic scenes.

Who are these characters? Who is that guy? Why are they dying? Why should anyone care? And why is the audience finding tragedy remotely humorous? Is it because the scenes contain unorthodox comedy or rather because the writing has hatched a hilarity so notably mindless to be taken seriously? That is just an excuse for the writing that was unable to give the characters value other than poor attribute of sacrificial lambs.

I’d say that it’s hard to find good horror in any medium, be that video games, movies, or Japanese animation. As someone who happens to enjoy psychological mysteries and survival horror titles. Certainly not as much as before since now the latter genre declined as majority of mutated into full-on action titles or the original writers are not behind these projects.

I was interested in the genre as a medium that was able to instill thrilling and often chilling experiences via dark unorthodox stories and narrative. The idea of horror is a profoundly psychological gripping experience. Horror must be shocking and authentically dreadful in some way as the word horrific denotes. There is no rule specifying “automatic death”, “sure death” or a restriction that massive slaughtering is all the genre must do. What you find in the modern horror medium is mindless graphic content. In your stories random deaths and in your movies – knowing how realistic the makeup department can make guts appear makes everyone sleep better at night. Good job. We don’t need a story, we don’t need to know the characters, and we don’t need to know their names because endless violence is all that horror is often reduced to.

One of the flaws found in the first Corpse Party PSP title is that there wasn’t enough character exploration for all characters as it just covered the main ones. What was the result? Not that best one but not the worst by far. Don’t get this wrong. Corpse Party has a remarkable story that stands on its own. Yet a long list of deaths made it seem like these characters were created just to be killed the moment they appeared. Book of Shadows came to rectify some of these slight drawbacks from the first game. It actually explores all the characters from the sequel making them stand out, gives them more identity and meaning to the audience. Contrary to what one would expect of a story titled “Corpse Party”, a story about nothing but mindless slaughtering left and right, that is not to say it lacks any, there is drama and characters that can be understood and surprisingly are more interesting than one originally imagined.

Corpse Party manages to escape once again, and better than it did before, from the obvious trap of cheap horror flicks by having an actual story (and a good one at that) that pulls the reader into the story by the hair. Book of Shadows, does so strategically by making “what if” scenarios based from the prequel – relevant. Not only that but it also makes the new information significant to the main story as a whole. In the end you get an incredibly more “complete experience” of the series you wouldn’t have imagined before the sequel.

For all the mixed impressions I read of the sequel Book of Shadows regarding the new game-play and exploration system, Book of Shadows is a positive surprise. Book of Shadows does in fact “feel” more like a visual novel now, only that there is a heavier emphasis on the “visual” part too.

It had to be said that a series like Corpse Party series is more than just horror. That is possible to explore characters, have a great story, and still be horror all at the same time. This was tangible before, however, the title might be dismissed as another mindless dark horror title because of some of its drawbacks from the first game. Book of Shadows, a story that capitalizes highly in character development, makes it excruciatingly clear that is not so.

While Book of Shadows is fundamentally a “what if” scenario and may appear as a bonus or extra chapter as the approach may imply, the sequel is nothing short of a obligatory chapter that completes the first game. Book of Shadows is not the sequel Corpse Party deserved but the sequel it needed. One that not necessarily advances the story much but immensely helps to cover the hole left by the still remarkable prequel. Surprisingly, a prequel made for the characters themselves. Everyone who follows the series cannot afford to miss this chapter.

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One thought on “Book of Shadows is not the sequel Corpse Party deserved but the sequel it needed

  1. The main reason this is not a friendly jumping off point for newcomers is that, unlike most games, the story is the main draw here. Like its predecessor, Book of Shadows starts off on a cheerful note by introducing the player to a likable cast of characters in a safe and friendly environment. Once the game has its hooks dug under the player’s skin, however, all of that comfort is ripped away as the story plunges headlong into some of the darkest material explored in videogames.

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