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Corpse Party Review

As the Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Dead Space franchises have proven, console games have little trouble ushering fright into our living rooms. Soliciting scares from portables isn’t as easy. Beyond a smaller, less immersive screen, handheld systems are likely to be played in locations teaming with scare-spoiling distractions. It’s little wonder that Aksys’ DS title, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has been the sole attempt at transportable trepidation on this side of the Pacific.

The release of XSEED’s downloadable PSP title, Corpse Party remedies this deficit of dread. Originally a handiwork crafted from the RPG Maker toolset, the title was later ported to the PSP as Corpse Party: Blood Cover Repeated Fear. With a capable translation which retains much of the subtext found in the Japanese iteration (One example- the name of the game’s school could be interpreted as “God within heaven”; here it is known as “Heavenly Host”), the title comes recommended to PSP owners seeking a brooding, protracted, and steadily haunting experience.

Admittedly, Corpse Party’s commencement is a substandard ambassador for the remaining nine hours of gameplay. The title’s introduction adheres to standard horror trope as players are told of Heavenly Host’s ghastly history. As one of the game’s students explains, the high school was rebuilt following a series of kidnappings, murders, and unexplained deaths. Oblivious to the chance of any residual malevolence, a character proposes a mystical ceremony to forge an everlasting alliance between the parting circle of friends. An ensuing earthquake produces a contradictory consequence- scattering the students across a multitude of dimensions which recall the unsettling classrooms and hallways of the original school.

Initially, Corpse Party’s cast of characters faithfully follows anime cliché. Seiko is the perpetually cheerful schoolgirl with a crush on her best friend. Satoshi is the kindhearted, slightly shy, older brother, while Yui is the obligatory hip teacher who is accommodating enough to allow her students to practice occult rituals. Yet, as players take turns controlling a separate protagonist through each of the game’s five chapters, each character reveals enough backstory to foster a sense of empathy. With errant decisions often leading to a student’s violent demise, identification with Corpse Party’s school-age protagonists is vital. Fortunately, the game’s believable dialog helps bolster the game’s tragedies and even post-mortem discourse reveals character’s aspirations.

The PSP’s inability to generate complex three-dimensional environments rarely impedes Corpse Party’s ability to generate the sense of imminent misfortune of the sporadic jump scare. Instead of relying on visual finesse, the title’s verbose descriptions, fleeting illustrations, and exceptional sound design allows players to imagine a horror far worse than even now-gen consoles allow. From rerecorded voice acting (which reveals a range of sufficiently bloodcurdling shrieks), audio effects which express a barbarity and blood flow with sickening clarity, and binaural delivery which simulates sound in a three-dimensional space, the game is an acoustic pleasure.

The title’s gameplay merges role-playing roaming with the engagement of a visual novel. Using the directional pad, players move their diminutive, characters sprite through the game’s ever-changing environments- scouring locations for the necessary tool which enables access to unexplored areas. Although protagonists enigmatically have a HP gauge, combat is absent, with peril emanating from faulty decisions. As such, there’s only a single path to Corpse Party’s advantageous ending, encouraging gamers to save at every presented opportunity. Regretfully, this means that players will be repeating tasks and hearing conversations more than once. Ideally, the game would have allowed players to continue after a character’s death, like in Heavy Rain.

While Corpse Party main offer the most basic in game mechanics, the title does dispense a brilliantly ominous plotline likely to seep under the epidermis of the most thick-skinned player. As long as potential purchasers are comfortable with the game’s minimalistic delivery, Corpse warrants a place in the digital library of every J-horror loving PSP owner. Just be sure to play the game in a darkened room with a set of quality headphones on for a sufficiently skin-crawling experience.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

45 comments

  1. For some reason that picture of the killed anime girl is really creepy.

  2. Actually it good that this is a digital download. If you bought this in a store the clerk might flag you as some kind of sicko to be watched.

    • You’re being a bit paranoid there. Most of the cashiers at games stores and electronic areas I shop at are zombie-like. They barely noticed when I bought GTA IV at 16 years old.

  3. So Deagle, how many time did you wet the bed after playing this late at night?

  4. I haven’t played my PSP in so long I don’t even know if it works anymore. Still I’m curious about this game.

  5. Great game, I played through it twice. I tried with the lights out but got too scared!

    BTW- Corpse Party: Blood Cover Repeated Fear was the second version of Corpse Party.

    • Actually, no, the second game is Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. This first game is indeed Corpse Party: Blood Covered: Repeated Fear. It was originally called Corpse Party when it was first developed in 1996, then called Corpse Party: Blood Covered when it was remade for PC in 2008… then had “Repeated Fear” tacked on when it was further remade for PSP last year.

      • HAHA! Someone got schooled!

        My question is how close is this to the Blood Covered and Musume manga?

  6. I picked up 999 for $14.999 😉

    Great game, one of my favorite 3rd party DS titles. Might have to try this.

  7. What the hell is a “binaural delivery” sounds like it hurts.

  8. Sounds pretty creepy. I also need to pick up 999.

  9. I like Japanese games, but I’m not really crazy about J-Horror.

  10. How much is it?

    So 10 hours long?

    • It’s $19.99 and it’s about 8-10 hours. It’s a little longer in case you want to go back, and replay the levels to see all of the game.

  11. Not really a fan of the visual novel type games. I tried the Diagaea one and was bored to tears.

  12. Whoah, whats up with the bottom screen that looks like a Sega Genesis game?

  13. I have a hard time believing that a game like this can actually be scarey. Interesting yes, but really frightening? no way.

    • Give it a try, then… if you dare. 😉

    • I bought it last night- like the Desert said, it’s kind of visual novel. There are puzzles, but it’s mainly find something to open up a gate kind of searching rather than head scatchers.

      If you don’t mind that is it fun and pretty addictive. I played in bed for about 3 hours. I would have played more but my battery died, and the wall socket is too far from me 😉

      Oh and there’s definitely some jump moments- sound and visuals. Oh, and a face showed up somewhere (I wont ruin it) and creeped the crap out of me.

  14. I bought it and played for about an hour. It was pretty creepy, then one of the characters asked for “ass cream” to “butter up her pooper”. I was like “WTF is this” a reference to the T-G podcast?

  15. I hope this is supernatural and they don’t pull a Scooby-doo, ‘let’s explain all the ghosts are just pissed off people’ bit.

  16. Knocking Japanese games for stereotypical characters is getting old. Why the hell does every review have to do it?

  17. pretty good review. I hope there’s a sale on this something down the road.

  18. Good review. I like horror games, but never played one on PSP.

  19. It’s closer to 8 hours, not 10.

  20. Nice review. I haven’t really heard of this game until now.

  21. They called you unknowns on the Xseed forums, btw.

    • Anyone who isn’t IGN or Kotaku is an unknown to most gamers. I saw a post where a guy said he never heard if Destructoid.

  22. Dead bodies, dead bodies all over the street
    Fifty-five, sixty-five bodies at least
    I hang with the stiffs till the break of dawn
    I’m always finding bodies when I’m mowing the lawn
    Drag em in the house, throw em in the oven
    Wicked clown lovin that dead body gloven

  23. Tastes like chicken finger lickin deep fried
    I ate a dead body, but don’t tell, I lied
    I just ate my first dead body last week
    Still gots the finger nail caught in my teeth
    Before you start yelling and cursing my name
    Remember something’s wrong with my brain, insane

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