Title: Corpse Party
Developed By: Team GrisGris and 5pb.
Published By: XSEED Games
Based on: A release of Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear, the first PSP Release in the Corpse Party series originally on the PC-98
Console: Playstation Portable (via Playstation Network)
Release Date: November 2011
Genre: Horror, Adventure
Region: This review was conducted on the North American release purchased on the Playstation Network. Currently it is unknown if there will be a release in other regions.
Classification: The ESRB has classified this game M(17+) for Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Intense Violence, Sexual Content
Welcome to the party! No, no, this is no Mario Party where you wander around a brightly cheerful board and play fun and trivial little mini-games…. well there are a few but these will be a determining factor in life and death. You are just another group of students who naively performed the Sachiko Ever After charm and have been dragged into this labyrinth of terror, where you must fear the living as much as the dead… and the board chosen is Heavenly Host Elementary School, a school that is well past its date of educational brilliance and will more then happily be a third party to watch out for. Will you be willing to take a step and lead these students to their survival or will you end up having them meet their grotesque end? Well it is CORPSE Party for a reason eh?
Welcome to the abandoned and (reportedly) demolished halls of HEavenly Host Elementary School, where vengeful spirits dwell and the fires of corporeal existence are repeatedly and mercilessly snuffed. We hope you enjoy the tour, as it’s not about to end anytime soon. It may even last an eternity… At this accursed school, a series of incidents occured in which, ultimately four students were kidnapped and murdered. And though this occurred 30 years ago, the murders still continue through to this day.
Now the site of a perfectly ordinary high school, only unlucky class representitive with a penchant for telling ghost stories makes the mistake of invoking a forbidden charm known as “Sachiko Ever After”: a charm that unknowingly serves as an invitation to another space — a shifting, almost sentient echo of the long-closed school wherein these horrific mutilations occured so long ago. And once you’ve been invited to this party, you have no choice but attend.
Like gorish series will frighteningly creepy depictations of mutilations and death through text and visuals? Like a series that has an element of horror yet sets itself from the rest? Just want a series that is different from the rest? If you said yes to any of the following then Corpse Party might just tickle your fancy. Corpse Party is of the supernatural horror genre where four young children were murdered at an elementary school, then more than thirty years later still haunt the school and through the use of a curse drag other mostly middle and high school students in as prey. You take control of the students and a teacher from Kisaragi High, who decide to perform the Sachiko ever after charm as a means of keeping a bond with classmate Mayu Suzumoto who was transferring out the day after. Being dragged into several different dimensions of the school and segregated from each other, the classmates must work together as singles or groups in order to survive the hell where they must watch out for survivors and ghosts alike.
Without the presence of an RPG or even an action system in the game (Despite having menus and even a HP bar respective of such systems), the game experience is heavily influenced by the storyline which occurs mostly due to your actions. The game is filled to the brim with bad endings, meaning that one wrong turn can cause one or more of the essential characters to die a painful, and according to the storyline – continual death. The story is spread out over five chapters, each of which is respective of one of the five individual releases of Corpse Party on the PC, and more or less continue on from each other. In the later chapters you can control more characters however for the first two you take control of “Naomi and Seiko” and “Yoshiki and Ayumi” respectively while attempting to survive your own perils in individual dimensions which do involve cross-overs as sounds and characters from other schools collide. The final three chapters involve other characters (Who I will not name for spoiler purposes) who while dealing with their own conflicts on their end, relies on control crossing over dimensions and more progression of the storyline than one party.
While there are nine main characters and all of them play a role in the game, not all of them necessarily survive and become sheer plot twists, with one character only getting a single appearance before being killed off. This gives the game a bit of unpredictability however I would have preferred a bit more…. continuation from bad ends. The Good End to the game is the same regardless of what path you take with death of specific characters triggering bad ends and others just triggering nothing. While it may not have been possible with volumatic releases, I would have liked to see more results from the path I took, so if I accidently led to character to his or her death, I could continue on with the storyline slightly altered but still playable (Similar to the system implemented by the Playstation 3 game Heavy Rain).
Just as the name may suggest, this game is violent and from the first chapter you will find out why. It is almost impossible without a guide to not fall into the trap of a bad end, with the first one I ran into resulting in one character hanging herself and the other… something to do with swallowing scissors which I shall leave to your imagination while another event leaded to a pair of scissors being used to “surgically” remove a characters eye. It is fortunate that the screen blanks out any sort of violent scene, however at the same time the descriptive text that follows on as well as the sound effects and visual effects that follow do actually make things equally as creepy, especially when playing at 1AM at morning like I did… and most of these scenes you will either run into or are optional. In another regard, the school is littered with corpses which does provide that eerie feeling to it but also provide a backstory to the sort of deaths that have previous occurred in the school. As well, you will find characters wandering around the school who are both sane and psychopathic and while some will attempt to save you, some will backstab you or want your characters dead – and will be more than happy to chase you endlessly until they have their knife up against your throat or are killed themselves by a third or first party.
Character development is heavily focused on some characters over others, for example Naomi who appears from chapter one will recieve more than a character such as Ms Yui who dies (??) early on into the second chapter. Regardless of their relevance as protagonist, antagonist, ghost or uh… dead, most of the characters do at least some form of backstory in the form of flashbacks at the beginning of every chapter and throughout the chapters which gives some light to their personality outside of the school and what they have at risk of losing. As well, they tried to develop some of the characters later in the game but seemed to stop half way without delving into these elements more thoroughly, which was disappointing as they did have some good concepts going towards the more minor elements of the world. Looking at the game at its entirety though, I would have loved perhaps more focus on the characters as they were at times too busy running around recklessly looking for a means of escape or a place to relieve their bladder (Them evil toilets!). Looking at every element of the storyline as a whole though, I really did enjoy it despite there seemingly being only one main ending, and do sincerely hope that XSEED decide to release the second installment – Corpse Party: Book of Shadows at some point, although with the pending release of the Playstation Vita it is concerning me slightly we will never see it.
I assume considering the age group that this game is being targeted for you will be familiar to the art style, which remains faithful to the original 1996 release of the game albeit with HD sprites, environments and the rest. The entire game takes place in two buildings of Heavenly Host High School, and while there isn’t actually much ground to cover, the different dimensions hold differently designed schools, some with parts missing, paths leading to new areas or even complete levels being rearranged spontaneously. The main school tileset may seem repetitive at first, but you will find yourself enjoying how it loans itself to the creepy atmosphere well and how every chapter new bits and pieces will be added to enhance the experience. They also occasionally use separate sets of environments such as one designed for a pool, another designed for a wash room and some which you might consider a bit different or out of place for an elementary school. The game does a great job in progressing you into the school as the chapters continues on, so in Chapter 1 you are only shown portions of the school, Chapter 2 a bit more, Chapter 3 introduces the second building and so forth.
Changing focus to the characters themselves, they are sprites and nothing more, and given that they wanted to get a more realistic look to the main characters, there isn’t much they could have done with them without making them look farfetched. However, they go well with the improved character portraits and are respective of the designs, and it is easy to identify who is who, with none of the characters having conflicting character sprites. The games use of CG art I felt was more frequent in the bad ends than through the main plot, however irrespective of this the quality was sufficient enough to make it look visually appropriate (Can’t really say appealing) and get the murder aspects across well.
The music retains the retro style appeal while also holding that newer feel to it. You begin the game welcomed by the rather dark sounding beats of Shangri-La performed by Imai Asami which complemented by the animation works well in informing you what you are about to dive into. Looking at some notes I made about the games overall soundtrack, there is actually a fairly diverse range of tracks for you to listen to, however it takes time for them to actually appear, with some of the best tracks only appearing in the final chapter or two. Ignoring this fact, the games original repertoire might be limited in content – but not limited in quality and mood setting. Alongside this, the sound effects the game uses also effectively sets the mood.
The one amazing thing about this game is the voice talent they had, with a number of well respected voice actors and actresses taking part. Hiro Shimono, Eri Kitamura, Rina Satou, Yuichi Nakamura and Asami Imai are just a few examples of the voice talent assembled for this series, with all the major cast and from the sound of it, most if not all of the minor cast having voice talent with numerous other series under their belt…. 5pb made a good choice and it did pay off…
While the game is not something you could class as a visual novel by any means, the storyline is without a doubt the main draw leaving the gameplay as something as a means of just getting more storyline and hoping not to run into a bad ending. As you may expect from the design, you essentially traverse through the school, finding the next area that stimulates conversation and occasionally making a decision or doing something that causes the storyline to continue or halt. An example a decision would be whether or not to enter a room or interact with a sign or item – making the wrong decision can lead to a positive effect later on down the track or in reverse result in their insanity or other negative repercussion – thus saving whenever you can is critical. There are a few brief challenges throughout the chapters such as avoiding contact with a murderous entity or even just avoiding their gaze and the occasional puzzle to determine your next target. There is nothing ground-breaking but it is there to help progress the storyline and does an good enough job while retaining the original ’96 gameplay (Minus “that one” final boss which was removed from all subsequent versions). To its merit, it does try to spice things up at times and much of the world is intractable from the mysterious sign to the cupboard in the infirmary.
Along the way you can find student ID cards which are sort of collectible items that get you an incite on how the other characters in the game died, and you can further investigate these characters, as well as others in the ten extra mini-chapters included with the game, which are from the perspective of other characters besides those you play with a majority of the time, with some taking place in the Elementary School while others take place in the real world. Overall as I said, this game is about storyline and heavily focuses on it – so if you are one who prefers to speed through a game, you might not enjoy this chilling game as much as others. Could have used more puzzles and a bit more length however, as every chapter only game in at about an hour to an hour and a half each.
Will you survive the party with corpses instead of cake? Regardless this game is by far a unique horror game that delivers much in each storyline, design and sound departments while remaining faithful to the original work. My kudos most certainly goes to XSEED Games for taking the initiative to release the game and I hope it is paying off, and kudos also go to Team GrisGris and 5pb for going through with the release in the first place. Will we see the second installment of the game released internationally? With the positive response I am personally optimising, but regardless – you are presented with a full game here, with a proper conclusion.
Storyline/Character Development: A-
Music/Voice Acting: A
Personal Opinion: A
Overall Score: A