I started playing Corpse Party on November 22, 2011 and I finished it 5 days later on the 27th. Corpse Party is not a "short" game it took about 10 or 12 hours for me to complete it, so if you can't tell by how quickly I finished it I really liked the game a lot. Few games have grabbed my attention and forced me to marathon to the end like Corpse Party has. Now although the game is obviously a horror title I did not enjoy the game for the gory imagery or jump scares that are advertised in the game’s trailers. What made Corpse Party such a compelling game for me was how it made me feel empathetic to the characters’ situation.
The great localization by XSEED certainly helped a lot in this department by giving the characters very natural sounding dialogue, which helps a lot in a game as text heavy as this. The game's text is also used intelligently during certain scenes when there are no visuals and the text is describing the situation. These "black screen" moments are mainly used for Corpse Party’s death sequences and are very effective at creating a horrifying atmosphere since it allows your imagination to "see" horrors that cannot be visualized just based off the game's text and sound.
Speaking of sound, Corpse Party expresses a lot of the emotions of the characters through its sound design. The soundtrack is amazing and changes tone with the game’s story. Most of the music in the first 4 chapters has an atmospheric sound to it that fits perfectly with how confused and terrified the characters are. In the final chapter the music becomes much more upbeat and energetic which matches how the characters have become more confident and now have a plan to escape the school. Corpse Party is also completely voiced and although it is all in Japanese it still does a fantastic job at conveying the emotional and physical state of the characters. There are some partially great performances by Asami Imai as Ayumi and Tomokazu Sugit as Kizami. Although Corpse Party sounds fantastic many people will be less enthusiastic about the gameplay.
Corpse Party's gameplay is very simple which is to be expected from an upgraded port of a game made with RPG Maker. There are limited puzzles and a majority of the game consists of exploring the environment clicking on anything that looks interesting. Even though that may sound boring to some I believe that it is well designed and simplifies things so the player can concentrate on the game’s main attraction, the story and characters. Exploring the environments can be really interesting as you discover the bodies of other students who have been trapped in the school and read notes or flyer that explain the game’s back story. However, the characters and story are the most important aspect of Corpse Party and the best think I can say about the gameplay is that it doesn’t get in the way of that.
I know I have done nothing but praise this game but the thing is that everything I like about Corpse Party is highly subjective and many people may not enjoy this little horror title. Corpse Party is obviously not a high budget game and there are little things here and there that will annoy some people. The biggest complaint I’ve hear is how it is really easy to get a “wrong end” in Corpse Party’s final chapter and the game does not give any hints on how to avoid them. However these flaws did not bother me and I'm not writing a product review so I'm not going "detract points." I'll just say that if you call yourself a fan of adventure or horror games than you should give Corpse Party a look. I enjoyed every minute of Corpse Party and I hope it does well for XSEED so they can release its sequel, Book of Shadows. It’s because of games like Corpse Party, and because of publishers like XSEED, that I’m happy I own a PSP.
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