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Review: Corpse Party

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It's a dead man's party

Yes, we're reviewing Corpse Party.

We already did it back on the PSP. Not much has changed since then, but sometimes a game is so interesting and so unlike anything else on the market that it deserves a second look.

Corpse Party (3DS [reviewed], PSP, PC, iOS)
Developer: Team GrisGris, 5pb., MAGES
Publisher: Xseed Games
Release: October 25, 2016 (US 3DS), October 26, 2016 (EU 3DS),  July 30, 2015 (JP 3DS)
Retail: $29.99 ($49.99 for Back to School Edition)

Prior to downloading it to my 3DS, I'd never played Corpse Party before and have somehow been able to remain ignorant of the story of Japanese high schoolers transported to the decayed remains of the cultish sounding Heavenly Host Elementary, where spirits roam the halls and blood cover the walls. The only thing I did know was that there was going to be corpses. Lots and lots of corpses.

Corpse Party may have the look of a 2D survival horror game, but this is a straight up adventure horror title. Across five chapters, you'll control several sets of kids as they try to figure out the mystery of this dilapidated elementary school, its ghostly inhabitants and all the dead bodies these students keep tripping over. There are puzzles to solve, secret endings to discover and one hell of a story to experience.

If you're like me and in need of a good story right around Halloween, you've come to the right game. Corpse Party features a terribly dark plotline filled with child murder, cannibalism, dismemberment and more skeletons than Hillary Clinton's closet. The one thing missing from it is scares. Despite all the horrible images, either real or those your mind creates in lieu of available artwork, the story's not really scary.

What it does do well is create a mood of uncertainty and fear that it's able to carry for most of its duration. There are a few, butt-lotioning dips early on, but when the bodies start to pile up the tension piles on. The characterization of each cast member is fantastic and it didn't take long for me to really start caring about all of them and their mental states. By the time I hit the final chapter, I was full-on stressing out as I proceeded, doing everything I could to avoid stumbling across any of the surrealistic 'Wrong Ends' that create nightmare-inducing mental images.

The 3DS version is a remaster of the PSP game, featuring new character sprites, music tracks and gruesome still images. Said sprites look nice, but they're nothing amazing on the 3DS screen. While the music tracks helped build ambiance, I didn't always feel the selection was appropriate for the tone the story was trying to set. I also had many moments where tracks would gratingly finish and start over without a smooth transition. Because the music might change a few times on a single floor, it was often unable to contribute to the terrifying situations these kids found themselves in.

The amazingly grotesque sound effects and voice acting are handled with far more skill. There are so many moments where the tension is palpable thanks to sounds pumping out of my speakers. The effects are so good, that in one scene where the screen was pitch-black, I still got a shiver down my spine as my mind painted the picture of what was happening with only the sound effects to fuel my imagination. If you've played the game before, you probably know the scene I'm talking about.

Provided that you've experienced it already on the PSP, PC or iOS, the only real worthwhile addition would be the four additional extra chapters that are supposed to fill in the gaps of the story. I like these little additional pieces, but goddamn are they annoying to unlock. My first, 12-hour playthrough of the story only got about half of them and I'm not quite sure how to unlock the rest. I assume it will require me to get as many of the 'Wrong Ends' as possible, which I'm not really a fan of.

Yes, a few I did experience during my playthrough chilled me to the bone, but there are so many I can tell it's going to take me some time to see them all, just to unlock some extra bits of the story. I would be less frustrated with this task if I could easily skip over any of the cutscenes and endings I've already seen, but the only option in speeding things along is to hold down the X button. Of course it will probably be worth it because oh, what a story it is.

From beginning to end I was completely entranced by these kids' quest to escape the horrors of Heavenly Host. Corpse Party has a timeless story built around solid characters and a genuinely creepy setting that is able to buoy its sometimes outdated gameplay. 

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Corpse Party reviewed by CJ Andriessen

8.5

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The destructoid reviews guide

 
 
 

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CJ Andriessen
CJ AndriessenFeatures Editor   gamer profile

Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games. Also, I backed that Bloodstained game. more + disclosures


 




 


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  • XSEED reveals E3 2014 lineup and a new PSP game - Kyle MacGregor Burleson
  • Review: Corpse Party - Chris Walden
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