Review – Corpse Party

Review Corpse Party
A “biased” review of a videogame is a hot topic in today’s Internet societies, which always seems hilarious to me: any review of any thing, whether book, film, food, business or perhaps a device which allows one’s cat to fly, will naturally be colored by the thoughts, imaginations and opinions of the reviewer.

I’m telling you this, of course, because if there’s anything I love in the world, it’s horror stories and visual novels. Tell me that a game contains either of those two elements, and I’m absolutely, positively, 100 percent in for the ride. Tell me its got both, and you could complain about bias, because I’m obviously getting to review two of my favorite things, right?

All that aside, though, Corpse Party is tremendously good, and for reasons other than my hardcore love of its themes and approach.

In case you have never heard of Corpse Party, a little history is warranted: Team GrisGris has been working on this title since 1996. First for PC, then for the PSP in Japan thanks to 5pb, and now for an American audience thanks to the translation talents and distribution over at XSEED. Corpse Party is essentially a remake of the first PC game under the name, which I have not played, but I can only imagine we’re seeing it in its best form so far here.

Corpse Party looks like an 8-bit title, which will immediately capture the hearts of any retro game enthusiast (ahem). The game unfolds through a series of five chapters, each of which is told through the eyes of high school characters attending Kisaragi Academy. The game opens with students telling ghost stories, but soon enough drags players and cast into a dark world where we discover that Kisaragi Academy stands on the former grounds of Heavenly Host Academy, where said characters are now trapped, and where a lot of really, really ugly things that happened back in the day are now posing real life dangers to their mortality.

This version of Corpse Party allows you to play as a total of nine different characters. All of them are pretty much anime stereotypes, which I’d normally find a bit of a turnoff, but it works in this setting where Heavenly Host is really the star of the show and the characters that inhabit it are merely players. The story is also told in a way where we see flashbacks to the characters’memories and past experiences, which gives just enough information for the player to care when something happens to one of them.

As for the gameplay itself, it’s very RPG-esque — a top down view and simple navigation via the D-pad are all you need to get around. However, Corpse Party can’t really be called an RPG, though the reason why is a good one. I absolutely applaud Team GrisGris for the fact that there are no random battles with ghosts, something that would have been very easy to put in place here. There are no bosses either. The developer chose to favor storytelling over random battles and grinding, which I personally prefer as a player. None of your characters will level in this game, but it will be fun getting them where they need to go — and, on occasion, making sure they don’t go where they shouldn’t!

“I absolutely applaud Team GrisGris for the fact that there are no random battles with ghosts, something that would have been very easy to put in place here. There are no bosses either. The developer chose to favor storytelling over random battles and grinding…”

One thing that is good to know about Corpse Party right out of the gate is that it is quite violent and frightening, and that it will likely creep out players who are not well versed in the ways of horror. It keeps the jump scares low, and instead relies on devices such as bloody notes and student remains to get the point across. I was reminded of the Higurashi When They Cry anime/game series, which introduces you to a league of friendly, harmless-looking faces, and then leaves you watching in terror as they become delusional and start to murder each other. If you’re looking for solid scares, Corpse Party won’t disappoint, but don’t be surprised if your skin starts to crawl as you play.

If you enjoy visual novels, you’ll appreciate that XSEED stuck with the Japanese voice track instead of dubbing the voices in English. It works for the setting, and really, what would a horror game be without the high-pitched shrieks of Japanese teenagers? The music is also appropriately old school creepy, and weird sounds are also used to the right effect to keep you on your toes.

Corpse Party will not be for everybody (and what game is, after all), but for fans of the visual novel genre, horror games and retro fans, this title is really a little gem. I only wish it were longer, though the addition of ten extra endings that can be unlocked after completing the main story helps to flesh out the gameplay more. Also, getting bad endings in this game is significantly worthwhile as some of them can be extraordinarily gory, and if you’re a true horror junkie, you don’t want to miss out on that. In total, 37 endings are waiting to be found, and that ought to keep you busy for a while.

For a gamer who’s just not captured by all the high definition graphics and Hollywood-quality production of today’s major releases and longs for something different, Corpse Party may be just the thing to whet your appetite. Just make sure you’re up to the challenge if you play it after dark. And I know that’s just a cute thing to say about scary media, but really — I wanted to leave the lights on for a good long time after walking the halls of Heavenly Host Academy.


Developer
Team GrisGris, 5pb

Publisher
Xseed Games

System
PlayStation Portable Digital (PlayStation Network)

Modes
Singleplayer

Release Date
November 22, 2011

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

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  • Ujn Hunter

    Badass… too bad it’s digital only.

  • EdEN

    Playing this for a review for PS3Blog.net and oh ehat a fun game it has been. Very refreshing take on teo distinct genres.

    @Ujn: It’s only $20. Buy it now!