Reader Review: Corpse Party

You may remember Ben Latimore's review of 999. He's back again this week with a look at another Japanese visual novel that offers an experience that you wouldn't expect to get from a PSP game. Take it away, Ben!

—- Corpse Party is a Japanese visual novel for the PSP that aims to invoke fear by taking the player through a deserted high school where people are sent to die. Can a PSP game pull off the horror genre with the same effectiveness as its PC or console counterparts, or do the scares fall flat on their faces ?

Liked

Genuine Scares: Considering this is a horror game, you'd want this in spades. And boy, does Corpse Party deliver. Artwork is gross and horrifying, voices are chilling to the bone, and the underlying backstory of the school simply adds to the "eek" factor, especially towards the end of the game. One of many notable factors is that through each chapter you can find the dead bodies of students that had been there before you and view the individual causes of death. And there's plenty of individual situations you can run into like this.

It's...just...freaky. I haven't had Corpse Party nightmares but I really shouldn't have played it at 11pm...I ended up staying awake until 5am.

Presentation: Corpse Party presents itself as a visual novel with an RPG twist. You walk around and interact with things and sometimes participate in chase scenes. You won't see most of the gore until it gets down to the high quality CGI drawings. But these drawings are just fantastic for the genre; definitely chilling whenever you see a picture of...anything, really. A lot can happen in this game and a true masochist (or someone who just likes torturing themselves) will want to see everything. Text and still-images come together to create a powerful and dark atmosphere that doesn’t fail to create a sense of unease.

Complex Plot: Many different forces are at work to stop (or help) this mystery school come apart at the seams, with plenty of different characters, personalities and storylines. A typical gaming session will lead to a dead end, at which point you are greeted with a “WRONG END” screen – each ending – dead or not – reveals something fascinating and allows you to collect stars, so it is worth persevering with.

Voice Acting...Where It Matters: While Corpse Party has received a very good English translation this only carries to the text, the original Japanese voices mainly dominate the sound experience. And the original actors really get into it; screams are chilling and you can definitely feel the fright in the character voices, even though they're speaking in a language you don't understand. One ending involves a character being buried alive and, oh god, it's truly painful (in a good way... :D ) to listen to.

Hated

Low Content Burn Rate: Each chapter (six in all) can have anywhere up to SEVEN different in-game endings. The down point of this however isn't the content itself, but how long it can take to reach every ending. You could spend dozens of hours finding the extra endings if you were forced to start a chapter over every time - individual chapters can have many different variables which lead to endings. Thankfully the game provides five save slots per chapter; it does take a while to figure out that using these regularly is a good idea.

Extra Chapters: The extra chapters are meant to be out-of-main-storyline pieces that give little bits of information about other characters. The first two start off interesting with their own little puzzles to solve, but by chapter 3 (of 10) the chapters become nothing but walls of text. It's not particularly bad but there's a lot of missed potential.

No Local Release: Corpse Party is currently an American-only PSN release. Australians have no way of getting it without a) making an American PSN account and buying the game or b) hacking a PSP and downloading the game illegally, which is what I did (but I eventually bought the game on an American PSN account I plan on using for my PS Vita anyway). So yeah, either you do a tedious, boring procedure every time you want to play on your own PSN account, or you void your PSP's warranty and do illegal things, just to play one of the best PSP games in a few months.

Verdict

While there's definitely no way to get this game without breaking a rule here or there, Corpse Party is a fantastic horror game which does an insane amount right; and I can definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a scare. Just don't play it late at night.


Comments

    Wikipedia suggests that the game is on the PAL PSN as well. Has Australia gotten the shaft again?

      Last time I checked, it wasn't on there. I would suggest we have indeed been shafted.

      Great review, Ben!

      Yeah, we got shafted. From the PSN blog announcement:

      Corpse Party (£11.99/€14.99) Rating: PEGI 16
      Availability: Not available in Australia or New Zealand
      File Size: 556MB

      However, like the Persona games, this may just be that the game is still at the OFLC for rating. Persona 2 is currently in that limbo at the moment.

      It's getting released on iOS too if that is any consolation...
      http://www.siliconera.com/2011/12/30/corpse-party-repeats-fear-on-iphone/

    Been trying to get through Corpse Party, but chapter 2 (or was it 3) has pissed me off endlessly for something I expected to see in the hated section here: the lack of a skip function. Said chapter has one bad end as a result of getting caught in the chase scenes, and there's a good dozen or so points where you'll be subject to getting the same bad end if you mess up. Every single time you do you're forced to sit through the same overly long bad ending because there is no way to skip scenes or skip through text. Given that this is the fourth or fifth release of the game there's really no excuse for lacking that kind of function.

    Still, that aside, it delivers where horror games should. Great atmosphere, good writing and characters, good, well-paced scares, and lots of endings.

      I hated that too admittedly, I just went back to my PSP's menu and back into the game itself because it was faster than listening to that. But it's not THAT major of an issue.

    The lead image of the murdered schoolgirl is horrifying. I don't think it's appropriate for the main page article preview.

      I wonder what it says about me that it really doesn't bother me at all. I totally see your point though. Maybe I'm too desensitized. :/

        I've seen some heavy shit in my years, so it doesn't horrify me.

        But I do concur, visualizations of death is not appropriate for a cover picture, even if that is the subject matter. Sorry Tracy.

        Considering its animated violence it shouldn't really provoke emotion unless your a old fashioned conservative.

        If it was a actual real life depiction then there would be a problem :)

          "Considering its animated violence it shouldn’t really provoke emotion unless your a old fashioned conservative."

          That is a bit of a weak argument, Stephen. I doubt anyone here is for censorship at all, but having the title alone would surely be quite enough to draw in those who were actually interested in playing this. Just out of some common courtesy.

          There have been many regulars who all agree that we need to keep this blog relatively PG because kids could be reading.

            Won't someone think of the children??????

            The only concern people should be having is themselves as an individual and Kotaku as itself as a blog. People as an individual might not want to browse Kotaku because of a miss interpretation at work, and if this is the case then Kotaku would need to question if they are posting the right preview image for their audience to make sure their daily visits are as high as possible. This also works the opposite way with boring preview images.

            That audience, considering the comment fields... are not little kids. And if you cared for the kids so much, you would demand that these kind of images would be no where for the "kids could be reading" and quite possibly would click on any cartoon image.

              As an individual, this depiction of a murdered child offends me. It's the right image to use to give an indication as to the content of Corpse Party, but it's not the right image to use on the main page. Swapping it with the other drooling girl would be more suitable. And you're right; it's not safe for work.

              Kids are reading and watching stuff they shouldn't internet-wide, even if they're not commenting. If a kid wants to read about Corpse Party, there's no way that any of us can stop him. But Kotaku can maintain its consistency by not using potentially-controversial images like the dead schoolgirl a click away from kids/workers/others who would prefer not to see them.

                The drooling girl scares the crap out of me a little bit more. There's something terrifying about mind control (or whatever is happening in that picture).

                The game has a pretty... ick... name. Probably a result of translation, but nevertheless. It seems a bit... insensitive isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one.

                I might have to concur about that image being a bit strong for the front page pic. Most commenters seem okay with it, but there's clearly a group that find it offensive and I'd venture to say that many readers who don't comment are underage and may find that picture disgusting. It's probably not the majority, but it wouldn't hurt anybody, I don't think, to have a less confronting image. I hope I don't come off too rude or anything, I simply mean this as a suggestion should a similar occasion come up again.

                Great review, though. I'm not just saying that - it's really good, Ben!

                  It's not Kotaku's responsibility to raise children nor is it to cater towards them. (thank god)

                  I have no problem with Hayden being concerned over an image and for the most part his right. Although, I do have a problem with people who try and use children as the blinding white light that should shame us all.

                  If you think children will get traumatised by a preview image, imagine what would happen if they clicked intro an article with a 'safe' preview image and saw that image all blown up. Hell, that applies to us adults as well! at least the preview image gives you a good warning so you can scroll passed it quickly. (you could argue that a NSFW tag would work just as well)

                  I mean come on, why should we cater for 10 year old kids? I would just rather enjoy my mild mature themes.

                  ((btw, i had no problem with the preview image...))

    I'm still going through it despite getting it day 1 off US PSN. Loving it.

    Ug, awful picture and name, don't want to see that on the front page. Don't care if it's animated or people are desensitized either.

    To be fair, its a very easy mistake to make when you are used to it. I wouldn't have thought twice about it if not for the people in the comments.

    Besides, I dont really think this place is PG when sometimes Luke uses the word Fuck like 6 times in an article description on the front page.

    Oh Noez! It's cartoon violence! The original Tom and Jerry was more graphic.

      That's clearly untrue.

      I'm not sure where the line should be drawn, but this picture seems to be on the wrong side of it. The game does too, but I don't know what else you'd expect to read in a review of a game called "Corpse Party". It's not a party game.

    I think when you've got articles from swearbot Plunkett and soft porn Bashcraft, cartoon death and gore is the least of your concerncs. Methinks some people are being a little too politically correct for their own good. I mean who is HONESTLY offended by that pic, and who is just shaking their head because apparently they should.

      Honestly when I first saw it as the article header and not just the front page thumbnail, at least one bell went off back there somewhere.
      But then I got over it. It's really not as big a deal as some people would like to think.

    Thank you for the review, Ben. I'll pass on this game, but I'm going to try 999 on your recommendation.

    Regarding the topical picture, I couldn't help but be reminded of this scene from The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya: http://endingb.net/images/articles/haruhi_movie_yuki.png

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