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Review: Corpse Party (PC)

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Sachiko we beg of you!

For the longest time, I never got the chance to get into the horror genre of video games. It’s not that I’m afraid of playing a scary title; it’s that most of the major ones came out on the original Playstation console, a system that I missed out on during the ‘90s.

Even though I missed out on horror titles like the Silent Hill franchise and the early Resident Evil games, I was still open to checking out this genre one day. While I saw a couple friends play though both series a few times, I never got to stick around to see their whole playthrough. Other than that, the only horror game I fully played through was Resident Evil Zero.

With Corpse Party focusing on a group of students trying to escape from a haunted elementary school that’s inside of a spiritual plane, it looks like it was time for me to update my experience with survivor horror titles. While Former Japanator Associate Editor Chris Walden reviewed the PSP version of the game, Corpse Party’s release on the PC sports of a few differences from its newer relative, which gives us a good reason to return to its haunted grounds.

Surprisingly, this version is actually the first remake of Corpse Party (known as Corpse Party BloodCovered in Japan), as the original title by Makoto Kedouin came out on April 22, 1996. Despite it being older than its PSP counterpart, the game’s premise and creepy ambiance still hold up nicely.

Corpse Party (PC)
Developer: Team GrisGris
Publisher: XSEED Games
Release Date: March 8, 2008 (JP), April 25, 2016 (NA)
MSRP: $14.99

From the beginning, Corpse Party sets the scene for an amusing horror story as it separates the main cast after they were transported to a spiritual plane when they failed to properly recite the charm known as “Sachiko Ever After.” This places the player in an intense situation while they try to escape from Heavenly Host Elementary school, a place that was thought to have been demolished; thus emulating that feeling that comes from being in a scary situation without any means to overcome spirits that are after your life.

For the most part, Corpse Party’s scary moments aren’t the type of scenes that’ll make people jump out of their seats or scream loudly. Instead, they’re the kind of segments that are meant to shock players through the use of creepy descriptions and sound effects that complement the segments where someone gets killed in a messed up way, such as seeing a girl turn into nothing but blood and guts after being slammed into a wall at full force by two ghost kids.

Even though most of these segments are shown through sprite animations or text on a completely black screen, the impact from watching your character or one of their friends suffer badly remains intact. To an extent, they give off a similar feeling to seeing one of When They Cry: Higurashi’s violent moments, which was the vibe that I was getting through each of the game’s five chapters. With each stage being around 20 minutes to an hour long during one's first playthrough, people won't have to worry about the scary moments overstaying their welcome.

One thing the elevates these scenes, it’s the voice cast’s performances, as each person brings out the true potential of the characters that are experiencing fear or going insane from being in a place that’s hard to escape from. This stood out more during the game’s Wrong Ends, since they act as the “Game Over” sequences for the game and a good majority of them involve various members of the cast suffering an unfortunate fate. In some cases, it made up for the lack of visuals in the scenes with black screens.

While Corpse Party’s spirits and messed up situations makes it sound like a really intense title, the game mostly has the players searching for ways to progress through the school without having to worry about facing death, such as finding special items or activating switches scattered across the school. However, this doesn’t mean that thing are safe, as the game has a few segments where players run from ghosts and have to avoid certain traps that could result in absolute death.

Since none of the students have any items to defend themselves with, Corpse Party ensures that its players are in a state of vulnerability throughout the entire game. The only thing that can help folks overcome each challenge is to for them to be aware of their surroundings while they search for the items and clues to progress further, as it’s a requirement to overcome each chapter. In some situations, one wrong move could cause specific characters to go mad and do something foolish. Overall, this setup works nicely in making the players feel insecure at times, which captures the essence of many horror films— especially with the fact that the game is riddled with a ton of different Wrong Ends.

Aside from school’s intense atmosphere, Corpse Party also involves the players trying to figure out the mystery behind the place they’re trapped in. This was one of the most intriguing parts of the title, as it delves into the twisted tales that lead to the Heavenly Host Elementary School being torn down, along with learning about the deceased students who were sent to the spiritual plane before you. Sure, some of the events were messed up, but they’re all still rewarding since they play a big role in giving the surviving students the ammunition to overcome the source of the hauntings.

Despite the game’s creepy nature, the title’s characters are depicted in a simplistic style that gives them a cute look. All in all, Corpse Party’s designs shine well when the cast is placed in various dire situations, as certain characters look extremely menacing when they snap or appear emotionally broken when they watch someone die. While the PSP version’s character designs have a nicer updated look, the 2008 PC release’s portraits still have a special charm to them since their expressions still complement the game’s horror themes. In terms of the title’s presentation, the overhead view format with 2D sprites worked well as a callback to the original Corpse Party being a game that was made in RPG Maker.

Other than the game’s five main chapters, the 2008 PC version of Corpse Party features a few extra chapters that expand on a few elements present in the game. While the game’s PSP release has more segments than its predecessor, the main thing that sets the latter apart is the last chapter, which is a retelling of the “Tooth” story from Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. While I didn’t play Book of Shadows, the scenario is still friendly to newcomers, as it expanded on a supporting character that was insane in the main story, along with a specific character that the player can only encounter in one of the game’s Wrong Ends. Compare to the other three bonus stages, "Tooth's" length was close to the game’s first chapter; thus making it a neat addition to this release.

On the music side of things, Corpse Party's soundtrack sets the mood for its scary tone, as players are listening to songs that give off an eerie and unsettling vibe. A few of the tunes go well with the Halloween season and some of them play off on that feeling that someone dangerous is about to sneak up on you. With each chapter featuring different types of creepy tracks, players are treated to some variety while they try to survive. If anything, this feature's appearance is likely thanks to game launching as an episodic release in Japan.

Corpse Party’s 2008 PC release may sport less extra content that its PSP version, but the game makes it up to people with its ability to let them fast forward the title's text, along with its array of extra Wrong Ends and other goodies, such as its take on the “Tooth” chapter and the title having different voice actors. Thanks to these features, this makes Corpse Party worth it for those who want to uncover Heavenly Host Elementary’s darkest secrets on their computer; thus teaching them the important lesson of not messing with charms that are connected to the supernatural.

[This review is based on a Steam copy of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Corpse Party reviewed by Salvador G Rodiles

8.5

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide

 
 
 

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Salvador G Rodiles
Salvador G RodilesSenior Editor   gamer profile

Salvador's an average bystander who took his first steps towards a life-changing goal. During his journey, he's devising a way to balance his time with anime, manga, video games, and tokusatsu in... more + disclosures


 


 


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