Most of the fans of Corpse Party first learned about the series back when the game debuted in the West for the PSP back in 2011. In fact, this version of the game did so well that a pair of sequel games were also localized and even anime and manga adaptations have made their way to the West. Only a few of these fans likely knew that the series did not begin back in 2011 but all the way back in 1996 for the PC and now the 2008 enhanced version of the PC game is now available in English. That being said, is this version worth picking up?
During a stormy night a group of students are telling ghost stories as a sort of, going away party for one of their friends who will be moving away. While the class representative Ayumi is telling a particularly scary story, their teacher arrives and frightens them all. Bringing with her Yuka, Satoshi’s younger sister, she tells the group to wrap things up. Before the group splits up, Ayumi suggest that they perform a special doll ritual to ensure that they all remain friends forever.
Although the group is warned that if things go wrong, something terrible will happen the group continues to go through with the act. After things go horribly awry, the nine members wake up to find themselves almost entirely separated from one another and surrounded by a hellish landscape littered with broken windows, dilapidated woodwork, and worst of all… dead bodies and gore everywhere.
It isn’t long before these displaced survivors find themselves encountering hostile spirits that are all too eager to fill the halls of the haunted school of Heavenly Host with more death. With death a constant possibility, players step into the shoes of multiple characters over the course of five chapters where they must explore the school and try to unravel the mysteries that lie within in an effort to find out why they ended up there and also how to escape with their lives.
As you navigate through the various chapters in Corpse Party it will quickly become clear that the title is one that favors a little trial and error as it is entirely possible to stumble upon an event that will either immediately result in a bad end, called “wrong end,” or lock you into an early end for the chapter, resulting in the player needing to go through once again in order to find the true ending though it is highly recommended to keep an extra save to avoid this.
A few of the bad ends are quite gruesome as one may expect from a game such as Corpse Party but unlike the latter versions of the game, this title does not feature quite as much detail when it comes to some of these scenes. Nor are a few of the things meant to trip players up as hard to figure out as they are in later games, meaning that players should be able to figure out the correct path without too much trouble.
Despite this, the story told in this original PC version of Corpse Party is still as gripping as ever with players never knowing exactly who will make it out alive and what may happen next. The title employs its own brand of psychological horror that the series has come to be known for and although the tone of the game can shift wildly thanks to some odd things that the characters say or a girl’s inability to go to the bathroom anywhere but a toilet, those who want to play a horror game will still be satisfied here.
For those unfamiliar with the Corpse Party titles, players will need to navigate through the halls of Heavenly Host Elementary from a top-down perspective while trying to find clues all while avoiding various traps as well as spirits and others that wish to do them harm. There is an HP system to worry about though this usually only comes to play when the player is at risk of heading towards a bad end when their HP runs out.
An interesting aspect of Corpse Party’s gameplay is the fact that while exploring a level and interacting with objects in the world there are very few indications that what the player did is actually the correct thing to do. In fact simply activating certain items may lock you into a bad end as mentioned earlier with no warning until it is already too late. This means players will need to use their best judgment to avoid an early end.
Add to the fact that the creepy hallways and entities that players will be encountering work so well together and players will need to be on their toes quite often or run the risk of dying as well. That being said, sometimes finding these bad ends and unlocking extra chapters does help expand the game a bit more so don’t be too afraid to stumble around a bit and be sure to read the various notes left behind by those who couldn’t make it out alive.
Visuals & Audio
It is worth noting that this PC version of the game has been enhanced a bit since the original release but it still falls far behind the PSP Version in delivering a truly atmospheric experience alongside the lack of the gruesome CGs that unsettled many during the wrong endings. This means that while the storyline may still be quite interesting and feel like a real horror game, the visuals of the title falter in this regard. This is especially true in regards to the character portraits in the title.
While the characters are still occasionally shown with sprite dialogue boxes, most of the time during dialogue sequences they are portrayed via surprisingly badly detailed character portraits that look completely out of place compared to the rest of the game. Thankfully the Japanese voice work is still fairly well done, for the most part, and the music once again serves as a great enhancement to the eerie nature of the school.
Corpse Party’s PC version still manages to deliver a satisfying storyline of horror and survival as players must guide these students through a horrific world where death is almost a complete certainty and even the bad endings deliver some form of morbid entertainment. Unfortunately while it does offer a slightly altered version of the game to experience, the PC version falls to deliver the same feeling of tense horror that the PSP remake managed to years ago. This version does serve as a great way for those who may not have the chance to try out the original release but don’t expect the same level of quality in this version compared to the PSP version.