GAME REVIEW | A Killer "Corpse Party" Lands Frightfully on 3DS
Who would've thunk that a small RPG Maker game from twenty years ago would have such a massive following? Corpse Party has amassed many remakes, sequels, spin-offs, manga, anime, & film adaptations, and even amusement park attractions. While its remake has hit various handhelds in the past, this year marks the first time the horror title hits a Nintendo console. For those who have missed out in the past, this Corpse Party rerelease is one that certainly can't be missed.
After a good luck charm winds up having the opposite effect, a group of friends finds themselves separated and lost in the rotted grounds of Heavenly Host Elementary School. Trapped in different realities in the school, the students -- led by Satoshi Mochida -- must find a way to reunite with one another and escape from their haunted surroundings. However, as they roam around the bloodied halls, they uncover new tidbits on what really happened at Heavenly Host all those years ago. What's worse: it appears they're not alone.
Corpse Party takes an action-RPG route in regards to the gameplay. The objective is to search around the school for clues on how to escape, while keeping a keen eye on your surroundings and your friends. As there are no weapons in the game, nor are there means to defend one's self from the evils that appear, your best bet to survive is to run and take heed of what you discover. Since there are alternate routes in each chapter of the game, you may find yourself discovering multiple means of dying via your surroundings. And believe me: when you die, it's usually pretty brutal.
Despite its old-school appearance, Corpse Party always manages to find a way to fill your heart with dread at around every corner. Whether it's an appearance of a ghost or a classmate that's seemingly gone full murder one, the attention to tone presented in this game is still far better than most modern-day horror games. Perhaps it's the fear of the unknown or the means of presenting the gruesome deaths, but whatever it may be, this cult-favorite still knows how to give gamers many sleepless nights. The fact that you can't do anything but run from the terrors also plays a key factor (a scenario that's been copied in such recent horror titles as Outlast and Amnesia).
Much of the credit has to go to the game's means of telling its story. Split into five chapters, Corpse Party pairs you up with a couple of the characters each time, as you wander around the corridors searching for clues. However, one wrong move, and you'll be greeted with a gory bad ending; you can't even open up the next chapter of the game until you get a good ending comes around your way (even if said good ending appears to be pretty grim). It adds a surprisingly fun factor of exploration, as you may wonder what sort of cause/effect will occur depending on your actions.
However, as this is a full-blown Japanese horror experience, one can be forgiven for not wanting to have fun with their surroundings and instead just wanna find a way home. It's fairly easy to feel the same way playing this game as one would watch a film like Ju-On or Ringu, as the sight of young students who've done nothing wrong in their lives are subjected to a Hellish nightmare. The sight of young girls with nooses wrapped around their necks or bodies being mutilated by unknown forces will certainly leave some gamers queasy, a stunning feat for a top-down adventure game.
It also helps that the game's Japanese voice actors add in to the reality of their freaky situation. The way they panic, attempt to stay calm, and even lose their lunch and bowels to the sight of such horror helps to create a rather believable atmosphere. You'll start worrying about their well-being, and as some of them slip into madness, having to be forced to watch their downward spiral becomes quite unsettling. (There were times I had to turn off the game and stop playing for a couple days, as the sight made me kinda uncomfortable.)
Beating Corpse Party may take you around 15 hours, as it'll be very easy to run into the bad endings from time-to-time. (The quick save and candles scattered throughout the game are your friends, by the way.) Once you complete a chapter, you might unlock bonus chapters that feature other characters roaming the Heavenly Host school grounds. While they don't add anything to the main story, it does give you a different look at how past students handled themselves in this dire scenario.
- Great story
- Freaky scenarios
- Believable voice acting
- Might be too unsettling for some
Twenty years on, Corpse Party still delivers some of the most blood-curdling tension a Japanese RPG can deliver. Even on a portable platform, Team GrisGris' cult sensation will tie your stomach in knots. You might laugh that a game looking straight off of a retro console will give you the creeps, but be prepared to go silent once these unfortunate students start being eliminated one-by-one.
Promotional consideration provided by XSEED Games and Cody Martin of ONE PR Studio