Mrblikey's Corpse Party Review
- Multiple endings for each of the five chapters, and unlockable extra scenes provide replayability
- Characters are generally likeable
- Art quality is great
- Excellent voice acting, albeit Japanese only
- Haunting soundtrack
- Excellent (and god damn scary) use of sound effects
- Great price point
- Heavy emphasis on text and exploration might turn you off
- Sprite and graphic quality isn't exactly top notch
- Art style dissonance and overall cutesy-anime look might not strike your fancy
- Lack of english voice dubbing
Warning! This review might not be suited for faint of heart, easily revolted, and scaredy-cats. Don't say I didn't warn you when you see a bunch of guts and disturbing snippets of text littering the images in this review.
Don't let the positive connotation of the word 'party' toss you, this game certainly isn't a walk through a field of flowers. Why do you think the word 'corpse' is in the title, too? Pack your barf bags, bring some pillows and turn off the lights, we're in for a wild ride.
Corpse Party was originally a game for the PC-98, which was a fancy Japan-only PC, and was developed using an older version of the RPGMaker, the thing used to make games like Yume Nikki and Ib. The PC-98 version was released only in Japan (go figure) although it did have a few shares of fantranslations out there. It was eventually ported to PSP with updated graphics and a few new added features, and thanks to the wonderful people at XSEED, it's been localized for our pleasure, or rather, disgust. Whatever.
The game's story revolves around the eccentric group of classmates who perform a ritual in order to ensure that their friendships last forever.
Guess what? It goes horribly wrong, and now they're trapped in the Heavenly Host Elementary School, a school in another dimension.
Full of spirits.
That want them dead.
Yeah, things aren't going to end so well.
The story is split into five chapters, each with multiple endings. Only one ending, the true ending of the chapter, will advance the game forward. As you move along the game, there is more room for error and more chances to get bad endings. This might be the kind of game you'll want a no-spoiler guide for. Getting certain endings can also unlock extra scenes under the main menu, which adds to the replay value.
The general rule of thumb that this game explicitly gives you if you want to survive is not to do anything stupid, but occasionally you do have to make a few dumb choices every now and then to get the true endings to each chapter, which is a bit idiotic to say the least. Thank god for the ability to save! So yes, Guide Dang It.
Damn it, that's the fifth time this chapter.
In each chapter, you play as a different character. Amongst the cast of misfits is Satoshi, the normally cowardly protagonist who gets a new level of manly throughout the game, and if you've seen enough anime, you'll porbably have guessed it already; he's the main character. Then there's Ms. Yui, an idealistic teacher, Yoshiki, a delinquent who is kind at heart, and much more. Not exactly a character archetype breakthrough, but the cast never feels too bland and all of the characters burst with personality. A little warning though, there will be deaths. Lots of them, as a matter of fact, even if you go for all the true endings. You won't want to get too attached to the characters. Why do I give you this warning? Well, the story opts for character development all the way through. You will be depressed/angry/revolted when a character dies, as if they were your friends that you came to know. This shows that this game does character development expertly. Each character is unique, has their own ways of thinking and acting out and has their own distinct personality, so it's easy to get to know the cast.
The story is told through text bubbles at the bottom of the screen, with character portraits lingering above it, with the occasional bit of art here and there, much like any other visual novel style game. Much of the dialogue is voiced, albeit only in Japanese, so if you're a maniac for English and only English, this game might not be your cup of tea. The same goes for people who dislike reading blobs of text, as well; this game is very text heavy. On the topic of text, some of the game's horror comes from the grotesque descriptions given from the text itself. The game goes in to fine detail about every feeling the characters are having, the situation that is at hand, and even the descriptions of the gory, mangled corpses... if you can even call them that; some 'corpses' are just piles of flesh, and the description of them is what makes it so scary. After all, the more you know...
Ouch. Now, if this was the full scene, coupled with the sound effects and voice acting...
What? Not 2spooky4u just yet? We'll get back on to the horror elements later; it's time to talk about how the game plays out.
Now, as I said earlier, the game was originally made using RPGMaker, and that it was similar to games like Yume Nikki. The game plays out in a top down 2D perspective, and you move the character you are currently playing as across the overworld. This might irk you if you're a fan of the more full rendered characters walking around on a 3D plain. The majority of the game consists of you walking around and taking in the beautiful sights of Heavenly Host Elementary, and by that I mean the dead bodies and scattered gore. If a lot of walking isn't your fancy, too bad for you; you're going to do a lot of it. Exploring and examining things is key to progression, much like other survival horror games. It isn't too hard to find what you're looking for; typically objects you can pick up glow purple or can only be found after receiving certain instructions. It's never a case of 'press X on every tile,' but you'll still have to check every room to find what will help you progress forward.
The game has a few puzzles as well, if you could call them that. Most of them involve memorizing a certain spot after they show you it to examine and a few other shallow ones. More effort to make better puzzles would be appreciated, but look at the bright side; none of the puzzles or item-seeking points really kill the momentum of the game as they are segwayed into each other with the clever plot. For example, two characters might be needed to grab an object out of the reach of one character. Thus, it can only be accomplished with another character with you.
Each of the characters that are in your party at a single time have 30 HP. Why, you may ask? Originally, the PC-98 version had a fight near the end which is what the HP was used for. This fight has been removed, and in this version, some tiles hurt you when you step on them if you don't have what's needed to walk across. Losing your health means dying, and dying means... well, what else? Bad ending.
Also, every now and then, there will be chase sequences. If I could compare it to anything, I'd say it is comparable to Clock Tower as there is literally no way to fight back. Run from the pursuer and avoid contact with them, simple as that. Your pursuer is typically slow as a snail and the only real way to get caught is by getting into a corner. It's never anti-climactic when these occur though, mainly due to the fact that your pursuers shout out obscenities towards you as they chase you in full voiceovers and the 'you're going to die so god damn run already' music plays in the background. The game also throws you into a horrible position to escape as well. For example, there is a point where you are in the corner of a washroom and the only way to escape is to literally walk around them as they walk towards you using only a single tile pillar as cover. Getting caught means you're dead, end of story. Earlier chases are more lenient about it and incorporate the 30 HP system into it, but getting caught drains health a lot faster than from stepping on a tile that hurts you.
If you don't want to end up like that guy on the bottom right, RUN FOR YOUR GOD DAMN LIFE!
The game has exceptional voice talent, even if it's only in Japanese. Every scream of primal terror, every cry for help, and all the winces and sounds the cast makes are fully voiced and exceptionally believable. You can sense the desperation and fear in their voices, and it only gets worse when you hear what their dying breaths and cries of pain sound like. The sound effects are very well done, too. You'll hear all of the entrails dripping out. The sound of a blade scraping against the skin. The sound of flesh being cut and guts spurting out from a character running through a piano wire string. Ick.
The game uses rendered CG backgrounds in which your characters (which are 2D sprites) walk about on. None of it looks out of place and it blends in with the tone of the game well. Seeing a pile of skeletons and dead bodies in such an innocent looking school is enough to make you cringe. Some segments are darker lit than others, and only give you a certain field of view in the form of a little circle of light surrounding your character. At those points you'll typically want to slow down so you don't run face first into some guts. The quality isn't anything special, though. One minor complaint is that the character sprites look like they're standing upright on as if it's a 2D platforming game over what should be a top-down view, but you'll get used to it eventually as this is what most RPGMaker games opt for in terms of looks.
The artstyle has a distinct anime/manga look, much like other Japanese visual novels that are out there. This can present a few problems, though. The characters simply look out of place with all the guts and gore. This may attract a select few and keep out a select few. Rule of thumb? If you don't like anime-style graphics, you will have a hard time liking this game. There is a fair share of fanservice, but that's to be expected out of Japanese visual novels. The full-screen artwork is very well done, as are the character portraits. It's very much a joy seeing their faces contort into otherwise impossible expressions, which can, in turn, add at least a little bit to the atmosphere of the game.
Morishiqe's face doesn't exactly match the situation, but there's a reason behind this. It'd be much harder to explain than Satoshi's face, though. I think you can guess why.
Oh, and sorry about the huge cross-out. I don't know if the contribution staff would appreciate a wad of guts in my review!
The soundtrack consists of remixes of the original PC-98 tracks, and some completely original tracks as well. None much of it is ambient but it still manages keep you on your toes for the horrors that await you.
The price comes to a cheap $19.99 for digital download, a steal. Sorry, but due to foreign policies , the game couldn't be released for UMD as it doesn't have an English dub. You'll have no choice but to go for digital download here. Despite the flaws that this game has, it's one of the best horror games out there, and objectively the best horror game, and even visual novel, for the PSP. If you go through the game getting the best endings so you can go through it as fast as possible, it's about 15 hours long. You'll be getting a lot of playtime if you try to see everything, though. Thankfully they did a great job translating and localizing the text for this game. No "Onii-chan~"s here, bucko. There are few hiccups here and there, but that's not much to worry about. The game is definitely a gem for the PSP, and deserves a score of a flat 8. Give it a go! Just clean up the barf when you're done with it.