by The Ran Man
There’s something about schoolgirls and gruesome murder that the Japanese seem to love. Consequently, this has also become a bizarre interest of my own and to have it finally put into a gaming format just makes it that much more…interesting. Corpse Party got it’s beginning as a grassroots creation from a group of gamers using RPG Maker software back in 1996. Since then, the game received two remakes until the recent version was released with professional graphics, music, additional characters, and voice acting. Corpse Party is a title worthy of playing by anyone that enjoys anime like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni / When They Cry or games like Yume Nikki, another fantastic indie game.
Corpse Party begins with a several students at Kisaragi Academy telling horror stories at the school well after hours. As it turns out, the Academy was actually built over Heavenly Host Elementary School after it was torn down due to the murders and disappearances of some students and staff. Just as the friendly group is getting ready to head home, a mysterious earthquake comes up and the school crumbles into darkness along with the students. Waking up, you find that all the students have been separated not only into different rooms but also into different realities of the old elementary school. As you wander around you’ll discover the decaying remains of other students that have died in this personal school-themed hell as well as the lingering spirits of it’s inhabitants. It is now up to you to find your friends and escape before a similar fate befalls you.
Corpse Party delivers gameplay in the traditional 32-bit RPG style of games like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy. You control your sprites and wander the ruined school hallways in an attempt to find an escape, should one be available to you. Along the way you’ll solve puzzles, find clues, talk to spirits, and ransack the grotesque remains of former students for things to help you find your way. You’ll discover many things throughout the five chapters of the game, playing different groups of the students as they try to get back together and escape home.
The game is both blessed and cursed by it’s clue-finding gameplay. Both examining and re-examining many items will indeed help you find your way. However, some items are not beneficial. Some may harm your progress, kill you right then and there, put into motion your inevitable demise, or prevent your progress altogether. This is a bad thing. If you choose the incorrect series of events, you may very well find yourself wandering for hours before you realize that you simply can’t move on at all. Couple that frustration with the reminder that you didn’t save recently and you’ll really find yourself in a bad spot. That being said, these instances are few and far between, with most of the wrong choices simply giving you one of the bad chapter endings or killing you where you stand. The best advice I can give is to save frequently, and in multiple slots. This is genuinely a good idea to begin with as the game offers at least three endings for each of the five chapters. The final chapter alone has eight different endings. So, once again, save often and in multiple slots.
On the subject of multiple endings. Yes, every chapter offers multiple endings with only one being the “correct” ending. Some of your characters may die and some may not. Your ability to discern which areas to explore and which clues to pursue will be the determining factor in which ending you get. Remember, some things are helpful while others are harmful so choose wisely. Something as simple as looking into a cabinet can mean the difference between making it out alive and getting a pair of scissors through the skull. The only downfall to this type of exploration is that there are little to no hints as to what to look for or where to look. While this does add to the mystery and adventure of the game, it may come off as irritating for the more casual gamers. Again, this is where the multiple endings come into play so the replay value of the game is actually quite high. It’s also worth noting that the game offers no less that ten extra chapters that can be unlocked by finding certain things in the primary game.
With everything said and done, Corpse Party is a title that comes off highly recommended to anyone that is a fan of horror adventure games or anime horror. Beautifully animated with both CG elements and lively sprites, the game does a great job of creating a visual experience worth remembering. Coupled with a lively remastered soundtrack, excellent voice acting and a high replay value, your going to get more than you could ask for. Corpse Party is available for purchase and download off the Playstation Network now at the cost of a mere twenty bucks. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll be even more glad if the hit sequel, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows gets brought over.