Full Name – Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear (2010 PSP Remake)
Developer – Team Grisgris, 5pb.
Publisher – JP: 5pb. Soft NA/EU: Xseed Games
Platforms – PSP
Length – 10-30 Hours
Rating – R18
Heavenly Host Elementary School was the site of a plethora of grisly murders and suicides and was demolished years ago. How, then, is it possible that you find yourself, your classmates, your teacher and even your sister trapped inside its decrepit walls? Ignoring for a moment the fact that you are within that which shouldn’t even exist, you are terrified and disgusted by the shelves filled with maggots, the ever-changing hallways and the gruesome corpses lining the walls, the remnants of the students that died in this place before you. Surrounded by things you can’t explain and split into groups isolated from one another, you put on a brave face for the others, but you can’t stop asking yourself the question: “How can we possibly make it out of here alive?”
I know it’s not my style to put the description first, but I had so much fun writing it I just had to have it show up on the front page! Horror stories are one of the things that I really enjoy; I think fear is one of the emotional extremes that can really get you immersed in something. While Corpse Party isn’t exactly packed with scares, the atmosphere it fosters, the non-stop anticipation of what will happen next and the slow breakdown of your feeling of safety are all features of an excellent game. Unfortunately there are a couple of things that hold it back from true greatness, but you’ll have to read on to find out more.
Corpse Party was actually made with RPG-Maker, so the majority of the time you’ll be controlling a sprite reminiscent of the early Final Fantasy games (see: FFVI and earlier). The graphics won’t make you swoon with adoration, but given the platform the game is presented on they absolutely get the job done, expertly conveying the despair inherent in the building known as Heavenly Host. In comparison, the sprites shown in conversations and the CGs (as infrequent as they are) are all of excellent quality. You’ll find yourself wandering around the halls of the school, examining anything you come across while the thought that everything is potentially dangerous festers in the back of your mind. Early on it’s reasonably easy to figure out where you’re meant to be going, but in the later chapters (of which there are five) even minor mistakes will lead to your undoing.
And that thought brings me to the first of my complaints. As is to be expected of a horror game, Corpse Party has a number of bad endings. However, even minor choices which could not possibly be considered bad can lead to a bad end up to an hour down the track. Trying to figure out what you did wrong can be nearly impossible. With limited save spots and no ability to skip text you’ve already read, the bad endings are true nightmares to recover from. Multiple save files are your friend, but you’re only allowed five per chapter and sometimes that wasn’t enough, forcing me to restart altogether.
I’ve already mentioned the quality of the story, so I’ll take some time to elaborate on those points. The actual storytelling is flawless, I was gripped from beginning to end and was in constant anticipation of what was going to happen next. They weren’t afraid to kill off characters, which added to the suspense, but all the characters that died were ones that hadn’t had much time in the spotlight anyway and I can’t decide whether that was a good thing or not. I suppose it gave me the feeling that characters could die without actually taking away any of the characters I care about, which is the best of both worlds. Now I can’t decide whether it was intentional or not. Hm. The one complaint I have about the story itself is that the “Let’s Split Up!” stupidity repeats itself way too often. It never works in any horror movie, and surely the characters would have been exposed to that kind of thing. At the very least they should have stopped it after the fourth or fifth time it went horribly wrong.
The other technical aspects are fine and the voice acting is really quite good. The sound effects do their job but some of them fall a little short of being immersive (blood falling that just sounds like water dripping from a tap). What deserves praise, however, is the use of surround-sound recording. The single scariest moment of the entire game came when, while I was playing with my back to a wall, a sound file played that literally sounded like someone whispering in my ear from over my shoulder. I am not ashamed to say that I jumped and hurriedly checked behind me, even though I knew there was nothing there. Corpse Party should definitely be played with earphones (or better yet, headphones!).
One last I need to talk about before finishing is the quality of the translation. There are a lot of good translations out there (and a lot of bad ones…), but Corpse Party is one of the first VNs that has made me really sit up and pay attention to the quality of writing. I can confidently say that you won’t find a better translation out there; the localization team did an excellent job on this one.
Summary – I loved Corpse Party. The storytelling and characters were superb, the audio and visual aspects did their job near-perfectly and the fear (or perhaps apprehension) was real. I felt immersed while I was playing. Still, dubious bad-end triggers and lacklustre saving mechanics, paired with the lack of any way to fast-forward, hold this game back from true perfection. If you’re a fan of horror, or just want to give it a try, I implore you to give Corpse Party a go.
Plot – 9/10
Characters – 9/10
Audio/Visual – 9/10
Gameplay – 8/10
OVERALL SCORE: 9/10 – Great