My Thoughts On Corpse Party
When I first came across this horror game I was instantly hooked on it (available on PSP.) I feel weird admitting to playing stuff like this because it most certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s not graphic in its imagery, but feels all the worse for it. The scenes are described from a character’s point of view and the dialogue is voice acted. Hearing the voices over a black screen during a moment of terror can be really shocking because of how it plays with your imagination. Despite the body horror, the story intrigued me enough to stick it out.
The first game in the series was developed as a hobbyist project, using RPG Maker software. It was first released in 1996, but then remade and given the title of BloodCovered in 2008. There are two other games that followed, Book of Shadows and Blood Drive (there appears to be others, but Japanese release only.) The game is set in a school and follows a group of friends that become trapped there after performing a ritual. The setting is interesting as it is broken into different spaces, with time flowing in an unusual way between them. There appears to be no way out, and if you die in one of those spaces you continue to suffer the pain of that death for the rest of eternity.
The gameplay of Corpse Party isn’t great and I was engaged more for the story and characters than the mechanics. The first game is top down and involves walking around and solving puzzles. Book of Shadows is more of a visual novel, but includes sections where you can travel between rooms and search them. I haven’t played Blood Drive yet, but it appears to be in 3D and allows you to walk around the school. It felt good when I managed to solve a puzzle, but a major flaw was that some parts were too random and didn’t lead on well. There were moments where I had to walk backwards and forwards until the next part triggered, and I had no idea where I was suppose to be going. It might not have been so detrimental if random events occurred during that time, but the feeling of peril was lost because despite running throughout the entire building nothing menacing would happen in the time it took me to figure out where to be. There are also different endings to the story, but most of them lead to a wrong choice screen and then you have to re-load. If you don’t keep backup saves in the right places there’s a chance that you might have to repeat parts of it to get the better ending.
Even with the problematic gameplay I have grown to be fond of the Corpse Party franchise. The story is broken up into chapters and manages to maintain enough surprise within each one to keep you gripped and wanting more. It’s one of those stories that relies on shocking the player to keep you engaged. I came to really like some of the characters, so I was keen to find out what was going to happen to them. While the gameplay doesn’t serve the horror aspect too well, the setting certainly feels oppressive and creepy due to the aesthetics and descriptions. It’s interesting how the horrific events of the game test the friendships between the characters and offers us a deeper look into their psyche. The only problem I can foresee here is that by sticking to the same place the franchise could run out of fresh ideas with which to surprise us. I did enjoy Book of Shadows, but it didn’t add as much to the overall story compared to BloodCovered; Although the ending has left me eager to purchase Blood Drive, which might prove me incorrect on that final point.
There’s something about Corpse Party that leaves me curious enough to want see what comes next. It has a bit of a cult following, but many will find it to be distasteful and will therefore not enjoy what this game has to offer.