Visual Novel Spotlight: Corpse Party
on Mar 04 by

Visual Novel Spotlight: Corpse Party

Visual Novel, Corpse Party is the PSP remake of the 1996 game Corpse Party PC-98, developed by doujin group Team GrisGris. The survival horror game is part RPG and part visual novel. It follows the story of eight students and one teacher as they try to escape the halls of Heavenly Host Elementary School. Scares ensue.

 

Despite not being good with horror games, I tried my hand at XSEED’s localisation of Corpse Party. Well, I may have needed a few pushes, but it’s the end that counts. While the game has its fair share of ghosts, jump scares and deaths, I found myself enjoying it for the puzzle solving, characters and story.

 

CorpseParty_01

 

Corpse Party opens with eight high school students and their teacher as they tell scary stories at night. Once things wind down, the group begins to feel sad about one classmate who is soon transferring to a different school. The class representative suggests that they all perform a charm called Sachiko Ever After to stay friends forever. She produces a dubious paper doll and encourages everyone to grab a piece and chant. This ends with everyone falling into a different dimension where they wake separated in a run-down school of unspeakable horrors.

 

Corpse Party’s gameplay is a mix of RPG Maker-esque exploration with visual novel cutscenes. It’s broken into chapters where you take control of one or two characters as they explore the school and try to find a way back home. Although I was overwhelmed with so many characters in the beginning, each chapter only focuses on a few, so it’s easy to get to know the students and even come to like them.

 

CorpseParty_02

 

Of course, getting to know and love characters has its downside. Not everyone is destined to survive Heavenly Host, despite how many times you reload your save and try to rescue them. Your job is to survive as best you can, even if that means letting some people die. Most chapters have multiple bad endings where your player characters die in horrible ways and you can only progress by getting things right. If you’re playing blind, it can only mean walking into a number of Wrong Ends.

 

While Corpse Party is a game you play more for characters and gore, it does deliver a solid plot. The characters struggle to protect themselves and their friends, try to deal with the guilt over messing up the ritual, cling to their sanity as death looms over their heads, all while unravelling the macabre story behind the Sachiko Ever After charm. Seeing each character go through these trials as well as downright gruesome scenes bring you closer to them and you can forgive some of the more elaborate plot twists. I think that the story has enough substance to draw in people who wouldn’t ordinarily play horror games, but at the same time it delivers enough blood, screams and suspenseful atmosphere that those who enjoy that should get their fill.

 

Corpse Party PSP

 

Corpse Party’s weaknesses are few but noticeable. As the game seems loosely based on the RPG Maker system, it also has the same setbacks. The auto-follow AI for ghosts is simple enough that you can easily trap anything pursuing you in floorboards or gaps in walkways.

 

Saving can only be done at certain infrequent points and in only five slots per chapter, although it can be said it pressures you to make the right choices. Some puzzles require you to run around for a certain period of time or look at specific objects in particular rooms. The conditions to clear an ending sometimes involve moves that make no sense, like falling into an obvious trap.

 

corpse party screenshot

 

Sometimes paths are blocked off by a not-so-obvious push in the opposite direction. Despite all this, the game really shines when it comes to atmosphere. Dark hallways that can change at any moment, well performed voice acting, solid use of sound, and plenty of event graphics combine to make a quiet yet scary game. Players shouldn’t expect to run around vanquishing ghosts but rather prepare for creeping around barely-lit classrooms to find an item to move forward.

 

Corpse Party is available on the UK and US PlayStation Network for €14.99 and $19.99 respectively.



  • http://twitter.com/Japan_Game_Love I ? Japanese Games

    Hey there Shadocchi! Welcome to the site – nice write up on Corpse Party! Looking forward to reading more of your stuff!

    • http://www.insistonplot.com Shadow

      Thank you~!

  • http://twitter.com/MDKII Miodrag Kovacevic

    This is one of the most disturbing games I’ve played (the worst part being the “gourmet” bad ending when you read too many wrong notes). I really liked the story, but the brutal trial and error gameplay made me just use a guide as I played it.

    • http://www.insistonplot.com Shadow

      I got really stuck on a part where I had a crowbar but nothing to open, so I used a non-spoiler guide. I have mixed feelings about the trial and error stuff.

      • http://twitter.com/MDKII Miodrag Kovacevic

        I really dislike trial and error, and Corpse Party is no exception. But the atmosphere and story were good enough that I dealt with it and used a (likely the same) non-spoiler guide.

  • Kitsumeda

    Hi and welcome to Rice. Nice first review, can’t wait to see what else you’ll review.

    I always wanted to try this game. The goriness reminds me of Higurashi. I hope you will do a review for the sequel Corpse Party: Book of Shadows.

    • http://www.insistonplot.com Shadow

      Thank you! And That’s the plan~

  • http://twitter.com/SirJeshi Jeshika Paperdoll

    I’m so torn on whether to buy this or not. D:
    Should I?

  • http://www.facebook.com/findlay27 Hawk Ward

    A little late to the punch here, but I have to share my thoughts.

    First of all before I continue, I must urge that if you play this game to use Headphones/Earphones!! The audio is very, very tailored to making the absolute most out of stereo panning

    At first glance, while we can all agree that graphically it’s not a medal winner, I think this actually plays to the strength. Anything that looks are ancient as Resident Evil 1-3 has the potential for real, genuine creepy factor.

    Corpse Party is no exception to the rule. It revitalized an old 16-bit concept, added in some of the best, honest, and believable voice acting in any game (which personally contends to the quality of Console Gaming).

    Altogether – and pardon my word choice – this made one hell of a fucking scary game that literally had me on edge at every moment as if I were about to shit a load of bricks. Every time I came across a new door, I’d instantly want to check it out, paired with the thought of “I’m too fucking chicken to actually enter.

    Do note though, the barrier that is “fear” ultimately prevented me from completing Chapter 1 for NEARLY A WEEK, before I had the courage to actually proceed.

    My only spot of criticism is in its sequels – words that were thought, were instead spoken to the player. To me, this took away from the feeling of isolation, and provided more of a light-hearted experience, “I at least have this voice here to keep me sane.”

    It was interesting to try, but it is a concept that in my views failed all too spectacularly in my books.Thus I’m inclined to side that the original Corpse Party is the peak of the game’s series. For as soon as you take away what builds up the atmosphere, the overall experience will inevitably be altered.

    Solid review, and very well detailed without spoilers, kudos ~

    • http://www.insistonplot.com/ Shadow

      Thanks for your views Hawk! Always good to get another viewpoint.

      I think the talking to the self aspect could be forgiven as the games really up the creepy atmosphere. From darkened rooms with only a small patch of light to creaking hallways with sudden red or blue spirits appearing, it is a lot more spooky. In fact I’d say characters talking to themselves is a nice break sometimes when the tension is so high for so long. It also makes me think of telling ghost stories and trying to maintain the atmosphere with a low monotone “It was like X when it happened…”

      Book of Shadow’s introspection was a bit much though, just because some characters kept going on about one thing.

      And thanks! I keep my articles spoiler-free since they’re more recommendations than reviews.