Welcome to the Corpse Party
This post has graphic and disturbing images. If you are squeamish, or easily disturbed by violence, do NOT continue reading.
Corpse Party began as a humble indie RPG Maker survival horror game. It was first released for PC in 1996, before getting a remake titled Corpse Party: Blood Covered in 2008. In 2010, Corpse Party was re-released onto the PSP as Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear. It quickly gained a cult following of gamers drawn to the incredible sound, dark, disturbing story, and of course, horrific death scenes. When XSeed brought it to America and Europe in 2011, western gamers finally got a taste of the twisted game. Demand was high enough for XSeed to bring over the sequel/side story, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows earlier this year as well.
Corpse Party follows a group of students attending Kisaragi Academy who are having a little farewell gathering for one of their classmates who is moving away. The students are telling ghost stories when they try a harmless ritual for fun that will supposedly allow them to remain friends forever.
After preforming the ritual, a strange earthquake takes place and the students find themselves separated inside a strange rundown school called Heavenly Host Elementary School. The school houses various spirits and ghosts whom are hostile to the students, along with signs of grisly murders, piles of bones, and disturbing messages. The students attempt to meet back up and find a way out, only to find that there is no way out, and they are slowly losing their grip on sanity.
What is so interesting about Corpse Party is how it manages to take sprite based graphics, and turn it into something creepy. While the visuals may not inspire fear, the color usage gives the player a sense of despair. But the visuals are assisted in large part thanks to sound and gameplay.
On their own, the visuals can give a sense of creepiness, but cannot pull it off. With the 3D stereo sound, the player feels immersed despite the tiny PSP screen. I, more than once, found myself looking around myself when someone would be speaking. I thought at one point, someone was literally behind me whispering. The sound design is that good. As you hear the screams of a child dying, you will feel chills tingling down your back. You will get goosebumps from ghosts whispering in your mind. You will feel like flies are surrounding you. It’s simply stunning what the developers managed to do with the sound.
As you navigate the halls of Heavenly Host, you will find various objects and notes that may or may not help you to escape. Death lurks everywhere in Corpse Party. Reading a note may end up killing you later. Uncovering a statue may anger a spirit who will brutally murder you. Picking a wrong dialogue choice, or forgetting to read a note could end in a Wrong End. Death is everywhere. Some players complained about this, but it adds so much to the suspense of the game. You need to explore to find a way out, but exploring can easily kill you. It certainly keeps the player on the edge of his seat. As for the Wrong Ends…
There are plenty of graphic ways to die, and the game will spare no expense describing them to you. No one is immune either. The youngest character is an elementary school student, and she too can die in many graphic ways. And if you think the game has horrible death scenes, the manga is much, much worse.
Soon, the characters begin to piece together what happened to them, and why the school is trying to kill them. Speaking of characters, the cast is very balanced. Some characters keep their cool, while others break down. That being said, some characters are very, very, sick people. One characters gets a high from seeing death, especially the death of children. Another character, as I’ve stated gropes, and plays with the entrails of corpses while photographing them. On the flip side, we have some noble characters who realize their short comings, or try to help others, but they are overshadowed by the twisted reality that they are in.
Plenty of plot twists take place throughout the game and the ending, no matter what, is dark. Let that sink in.
There is no happy ending
Corpse Party is one of the more memorable games I have played. Using incredible sound and bloody deaths, you will be hard pressed to make it out of Heavenly Host alive. With the upcoming sequel, Corpse Party: Blood Drive, as well as an anime series, it seems fans of the game will have many more death filled trips into the cursed halls of Heavenly Host.