Corpse Party PC Review
When the original Corpse Party was released on the PSP in 2011, it was met with quite a bit of praise. The pixelated horror title left an impact on players, leading to two more games in the series. However, what some may not know is that the PSP version of Corpse Party was not the original release of the game; instead, the series started off as a 1996 RPG Maker title.
Now released in the West on Steam for the first time, this PC version of Corpse Party is available to play in English... but with the 5-year-old PSP remake out in the wild and a 3DS port in the works for localization, is this version of Corpse Party worth the purchase?
The story begins with Mayu's last day at Kisaragi Academy. On a stormy night, seven friends make a promise to always be together, but soon wake up in a hellish landscape. Seemingly destined to die in this strange world where corpses are strewn about like decorations and every twist and turn drives them closer to madness, there doesn't seem to be any hope of escape.
Throughout Corpse Party, players take control of multiple characters over five chapters as they explore the decrepit Heaven Host Elementary school and try to unravel the mysteries as to how they got there and why this unusually deadly place exists.
There aren't any RPG elements to speak of here - the core of the gameplay is exploring, finding items and occasionally dodging dangerous spirits. If anything, Corpse Party is more of an adventure game, and like other games of the genre it sometimes takes some trial and error to progress through the chapters.
Thankfully most of what's needed to be done to get the 'correct' ending to the chapters is relatively straightforward. There are a few things (particularly in the final chapter) that can trip players up. Other than a few red herrings or other mishaps, though, players should be able to reach the climax of the game with minimal confusion.
With a title like Corpse Party, which doesn't have much in terms of gameplay, it has to rely on its story and atmosphere to carry players through to the conclusion. Unfortunately while the plot has potential, the writing trips up quite a bit and really hurts the overall narrative as a result. The biggest problem Corpse Party suffers from are odd tonal shifts, which can really break the immersion and atmosphere that the title is going for.
One of the characters has now-infamous lines such as her "buttering up her pooper" and talking about "dat ass" to the point where it goes beyond trying to inject humor into a bleak situation and becomes almost obnoxious, ruining any sort of tone the chapter was emulating.
Another chapter has the characters desperately trying to find a bathroom, since the one afflicted with a full bladder absolutely refuses to go anywhere but a toilet. This search takes up almost the entire chapter and feels an equal part absurd (who is worrying about where they go to pee when they're stuck in a haunted school?) and a waste of time.
This and other examples end up ruining the ambience of the game, especially when the visual style does not do the game and its setting justice. While 16-bit games very much have the ability to be frightening or creepy, Corpse Party somewhat fails at this.
As one of the characters says himself in-game, you become desensitized to the gaggle of bodies and macabre imagery of Heavenly Host Elementary. There is nothing to really accent the violence and the death all around the characters - something that is very much solved with the PSP remake and its unsettling CGs.
There is also not much in the way of flavor text to fuel the player's imagination. This is made a bit worse with the redrawn character portraits that look incredibly out of place with the rest of the title, and makes the horror aspect of Corpse Party fall short.
When it all comes down to it, this release of Corpse Party is not bad... but it's not good, either. The PSP remake makes the original version of the game more or less obsolete. The remake has improved graphics and CGs, and even a few tweaks in gameplay to make players a little less likely to fail.
With the 3DS port of the remake coming out soon, there is no reason to pick up the Steam version of Corpse Party unless you're a hardcore fan of the series. There are simply better ways to play this title.