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Horror

  • boxart
    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.

  •  

    boxart
    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
    Highlights:

    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?

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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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