By: Matthew Striplen
Have you ever thought about what goes bump in the night? Maybe it’s just the house settling, or at worst, an animal skittering across the roof. Now that I’ve been playing Corpse Party, the slightest creak in the house has me convinced that a headless ghost is trying to carve out my eyeballs. *shiver*
Corpse‘s controls are super simple and intuitive. The map functions like a grid, with each d-pad input equal to moving one tile. Scrolling through text is easy as well.
The 3DS version of Corpse is essentially a re-master of the PSP edition. While it looks better than previous versions, most notably the sprites, the game’s visuals still aren’t anything to write home about. Certain cut scenes do display highly detailed anime style drawings, though most aren’t what I’d call “beautiful” due to the subject matter. Still, production quality is undoubtedly high.
In contrast to the mediocre graphical performance, audio is fantastic. The musical score consistently lends to the atmosphere of underlying dread. I often found myself roaming the halls with a sense of anxiety and didn’t understand why until I turned off the music. Plus, all lines of dialogue are voiced, albeit only in Japanese.
Even if you don’t speak Japanese, the performances’ fire is sure to come across loud and clear. Best of all are the sound effects, especially during death scenes. Although very little violence, as opposed to gore, is depicted visually, the audio coupled with the written descriptions was more than enough to make my skin crawl.
Corpse Party‘s history goes back to 1996 when a handful of developers decided to create a horror game for the PC-9801. Since then, their creation has been expanded and remade for many different platforms, the latest of which being 3DS. Even if you’re already familiar with the game, the 3DS edition is absolutely the best way to experience Corpse Party.
The game opens with a high school class throwing a goodbye party for a classmate. Everything seems fine until someone suggests they perform a friendship ritual. Suddenly, an earthquake decimates the school and the class loses consciousness.
One by one, they wake up to discover that they’ve been mysteriously transported to the Heavenly Host Elementary School, which was shut down due to the mass kidnapping, torture and eventual murder of students. It doesn’t take long for the high schoolers to realize that the tortured souls of the dead still roam the halls, preying on whatever crosses their path.
Corpses of prior victims litter the campus, some of which are accompanied by cryptic or disturbing messages. With everyone separated from each other and the violent ghosts on the prowl, the chances of survival look slim. Can you find the courage to escape the Corpse Party?
Each chapter focuses on different protagonists, meaning gamers will play as several different characters over the course of the game. Each personality is well developed, as are the relationships between characters. The writing lends an air of realism to an otherwise unrealistic game. However, the mood is broken a few times with bizarre lines, most notably the infamous “butter up my pooper” conversation.
Non-sequiturs aside, the powerful writing carries Corpse Party more than any other element. The developers did a great job in forging a connection between the player and the characters, which makes their graphic murders that much more disturbing.
Even if you’re a horror game veteran, there are bound to be a few moments that will shock you. Corpse Party relies less on gore and jump scares, and more on grisly noises and truly horrific descriptions. This level of depravity is what sets this game above many others in the genre, but it may also prove too much to handle.
Players find a series of notes scattered through the school titled “Victim’s Memoirs.” In the game, warnings appear not to read the memoirs to their conclusion, lest the character lose their mind. I offer a similar warning to those playing this game. You won’t soon forget what you see here.
Completing a chapter requires players to follow a strict sequence of events. Straying from the path always results in a “Wrong End.” Only the correct sequence of event triggers a True End. For those who can’t get enough of the terrifying gameplay, there’s a bonus for finding all the endings, including the wrong ones. This significantly increases the replay value.
Corpse Party is an extremely disturbing horror mystery game featuring students tormented by sadistic spirits. The sound design and writing make the game a truly unforgettable and unique experience. If you don’t like horror, this isn’t the game for you, but should you have the stomach for it, Corpse Party delivers a creative master class on terror.