Corpse Party

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Corpse Party - The Review -

Reviewing this one will be really difficult, it’s a story driven game and up to that it’s horror, so there are many points to be evaluated even though I am not able to address them directly.

First off I will be answering a few questions that are related to the game and most likely will give you an insight on what you have to expect.

If the Q&A part is too long for you just skip it.


Where did the game originate from?
Simple, it’s Corpse Party made by Team GrisGris on the RPG maker and it got overhauled two times. The game I will review is nothing else than the latest version aka “Corpse Party Blood Covered Repeated Fear” as it is known in Japan.

$19,99/ 15€ for a title like this? I never heard of it, less read of the game, so why would I invest a whole $20 PSN card just to try it out?

This might sound really brash and crazy but… ever spend around 60 bucks for a game you’ve only played once? Yeah? Maybe?
Well then why not try it out? Ultimately I can’t force you to but I can promise you given that price it will neither be a waste of time or a waste of money. You will get up to 15-30 hours of playtime out of it.

Why should we play it, or even try it? Judging from the screenshots this game looks cheap…

This is where the fun starts.
Ever played Resident Evil before or Silent Hill 1? Those games that scared the hell out of you, when you were a teenager or a child?
Judging from todays “standards” would they look good when you’d play them today?
Nah? Spot on. But that’s exactly why Corpse Party is so surprising and in this review I’d like to tell you all why.


Corpse Party is one of many 16 bit games, no matter how you look at it, this is what you get in the graphic department. Basically you could even Imagine it on the SNES, Sega Genesis or the Playstation one.

Measured in file size the game is one huge work, 556MB to be exact, this nearly equals the size of Castlevania Symphony of the night.

It is completely voiced and has a damn good opening as well as ending song.

At this point I am not able to tell you about the cast, like I did in the Deus Ex HR review, everything here would be spoilers aside from the fact that you have 9 main characters. The game has many more but this is the main cast. They all come from Japan and go to school at the Kisaragi Academy High School Class 2-9.

The character profiles on the main Japanese page of Corpse Party give away a few details of them, I’ll pack those in a spoiler so it won’t take up too much space. Those aren’t spoilers they are just quite uninteresting, if you do not know the characters yet.
Thank you very much enigmaopoeia, Gintoki and animenutcase from the XSEED forums.~

»Character Profiles«

Every single one of them is very well written and performed, it’s a miracle that team Gris Gris managed to create truly believable characters. Some of them might react a bit cliché if you watched a lot of movies like I do but none of them is boring or too predictable.

As far as it goes the characters really pull you into the situation, a good point for such a franchise, don’t you agree?

As you progress through the game with your group you will encounter situations that make you think like them. But since we are all save behind the screen of our PSP’s it’s not so bad, I’d think otherwise if we would be in a place like that.
That brings us to ...

The Story and the Environment:

A haunted place, all ragged up and dark, that kind of environment you do not want to be in. Imagine yourself in a old building like this, in the middle of the night. This includes hearing everything, like screams, squeaky footsteps, breathing, clattering noises and so forth. Naturally the stench of blood and dust come with it.
Since I played many games in that genre before I was instantly reminded of “The Calling” or “the Grudge” as well as Fatal Frame and Silent Hill and that all mixed together. I loved it, and that made me really cocky and daring until the first events in the game.

The atmosphere in Corpse Party is exactly like above, it is really well made, so good it is hard to put down. I never expected to feel that way. It was quite refreshing in the age of guns and zombie slaying.
Usually you feel kind of safe as long as you have some kind of weapon, something to fend for your life. Well.., in Corpse Party you are all on your own, the Protagonists are basically “harmless children” of the age of 12-16 to begin with. Not much to work with, huh?
Trapped in that foreign place the only hope is to find a way out, somehow, somewhere. But all of them quickly realize that it's dangerous to even stay in one place and walking around is even more so.

Those facts immediately raises the tension bar, because the game looks like something might jump out of the next door or sit behind the next corner.
Flickering lights and weird sounds while searching through the building make things even better.

- To make matters worse, simple candles are your lifesaver and I mean that literally, those are your save points. Sadly seeing one doesn’t always imply that you’re safe no matter what. -

A screen you might see a lot
While you search through the building with your characters you may encounter different items or warnings, notes of the dead. You - as the player - have to decide if they mean something good or bad.  This not only enhances the feeling of being trapped in the environment but also gives you some insight on what happened to the others who came here. The downside is every action can result in a wrong end, if you don't know what exactly you did wrong you might see the same one a couple of times

At one part of the game it suggests that you will never leave the room if you read something and your companion is like:

“Read it, doesn’t that make you want to read it all the more!? 8D”
My current character was very hesitant and so was I …. After basically screaming
“Are you insane or something!? That screams certain death!!“ D:
It’s not important what actions I took afterwards or how it all ended but that situation certainly made me laugh and nearly cry at the same time.

Up to 27 Endings will await you if you decide to buy a copy from your PSN store. Three more or less complete ones, including one true ending and other 24 "bad/wrong ends". 

Since all of them are pretty interesting and surprising it will add a lot of replayvalue to the game. I'd even recommend playing it a second time so that you're able to take certain aspects in that you didn't realize in your first playthrough.

To enhance all that there’s...

The Soundtrack and the Voice Acting:

It works, the OST goes from dark and creepy tones to really enjoyable ones, and some of them also have the original Japanese lyrics. It works well and makes it worthwhile to linger at some places even if that means that you might jump into your doom.

Others suggest tranquility and peace, though they are less present during the actual gameplay. At no time the OST seems to be boring or annoying, which is quite the feat for such a small/“no name” game or rather development team. And all in all it most certainly fits the game's theme, characters and happenings well.

»You can listen to a few samples here«
Most of them scream “I love you too” in the most ironic way and while you gradually make your way through that mess the tracks really grow on you to the point where you actually would listen to them on a MP3 player.

The voices of every character are good, even if sometimes annoying. But when they are, it most likely fits perfectly in the situation. The Seiyuu (Japanese for voice actor) really put all their feelings and thoughts into the characters and make them come alive. They react in a realistic way with much emotion in their voices.
Some even make you fond of characters you would love to smack in the face at the beginning of the game and they really put you in a tight spot when an unknown character comes at you, running and screaming like no tomorrow.

Sometimes you might even hear crazed laughter or screams from somewhere, which will certainly keep you on edge. Especially when you are not able to make out the source of the screaming right away, or if you do. Yes it’s hard to decide what’s worse here…
Combining the voice work and the soundtrack as well as the sound effects I’d say that this alone would be worth those $20. But that’s just my opinion.

If you don’t like Japanese and can’t think of any way to get around this feeling, then you’re able to turn them off. With doing so you will absolutely miss some of the best parts of the gameplay and basically ruin the fun in it. It still is a possibility though.

Now to the Translation:

This is where XSEEDGames does shine, usually I can nag about every mistake a translation project is able to make. Phrasing, writing, typos, even some nicknames, even in subbed anime, just name it. A perfect translation is never really possible in Japanese, since it’s quite difficult to translate it and leaves many things to be desired most of the time.

This is the first time ever I hardly complained about anything, maybe one or two times, they even added things to the text for better understanding. The in-game translation while you walk through the game and someone’s calling out to you is also very good; the font they used isn’t childish or unreadable at any time of the game.
It’s simply very good.

Typos? Hardly any, if not none it’s amazing how thoughtful the translator was while doing his work and every fan of a series or game has to respect that kind of work the translator did here.
A translation can’t be done in a day or hours, especially not when the original work is Japanese.

And as already mentioned above I really dislike the fact that I have nothing to complain about, believe it or not. Not one mistranslated line, not even out of character, it all fits well. Some lines could’ve been a bit edgier but that’s basically all!

God help me, I’m getting soft in my old age…

The Visuals:

They fit the game well, though it’s quite surprising to see a game of that kind of genre this … cute. At the same time it’s impressively intimidating and bolsters the atmosphere with a certain charm you won’t find in any other horror game on your handheld device.
You’re able to interact and search through shelves, rooms, even the floor has things you can pick up. Nothing stands out too much, especially not secret things~
As you can see in the screenshots it’s dark and broody and yet not. This helps to give you a feeling of security despite being trapped in a place were you wouldn't want to go into no matter what. Sometimes you may even find yourself marveling at the tense atmosphere despite the game being all pixels and sprites.

Final Verdict:

All together this makes a 9 out of 10.

So I give it my seal of approval, a game from a small team like this should be cherished and I for one am curious how the other two games will be like, IF they ever get released here, that is. Especially the second one since it seems to be in first person view.

XSEED took a huge risk with publishing the game since so less people loaded it, no wonder, it looks anime-ish, has Japanese voices and many players in the US and even Europe are basically allergic against those things.
If you can afford it somehow and have a PSP or Vita, buy it, you will definitely get your money’s worth out of it.

It's not like the game has no flaws but they are minor compared to the experience you will have while you play the game. Once you're all alone, in the dark on the weekend it's very easy to engross yourself into the game for one or two hours, maybe more.
The lack of possibilities (aka fighting or fleeing from certain things) while playing or the abscence of hard-core riddles can easily be forgiven. Those that are in the game are not necessarily difficult or absolutely challening but kind of hard to figure out. Especially if you have no idea what to do next and this is often the case, no matter what you're running away from at that time.

The other slightly negative point for one person or the other may be that the game is (to my knowledge) english text only. It's not hard to understand, there are no diffucult or complicated words here, if you had some basic english lessons you'll be fine.

As for now Corpse Party is the (nearly) unrivaled PSP horror game and currently the best rated game on PSN. So if you see it on the Playstation Network give it a try!

Oh and a special thanks to my co-worker on this blog for the mostly spoiler free batch of screenshots. Even after my third playthrough I only had gory ones with lots of spoilers available and of course to everyone who will take a look at this humble review. See ya soon!

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