Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Corpse Party

Corpse Party
Developer: Team GrisGris
Publisher: XSeed Games
Adventure - PSP
1 player
Corpse Party

I love Japanese horror. There is a certain quality in them that's distinct from Hollywood. In general, they don't rely on visceral scares, but instead penetrate your psyche with dark imagery and atmosphere, so that you're left with unsettled feelings long after the film is over. They also tend to have a human aspect to it, where even the "bad guy" has some relatable qualities. Enter Corpse Party. It was originally a PC-9801 game, turned PC remake, turned PSP game (and now iOS).

Corpse Party has roots in RPG Maker, with its simple 2/3 overhead RPG perspective and sprite graphics. But it's all adventure game through and through, with plenty of character dialog, cut scenes, item fetching, and branching paths. The game begins at a high school, where a group of students and a teacher gather together and perform a charm. The charm backfires, causing an earthquake that splits the group apart as they fall through the chasm, leaving them at the mercy of the evil spirits within.

The game is broken up into 5 chapters, and will often have you controlling different characters and exploring the specific area those characters are in. Every chapter has multiple endings, although generally only one of them will be "good", allowing you to progress further in the game. Your dialog choices, the objects you pick up, the objects you use (or don't use), and order of actions can determine your fate. I do like the fact that even if you choose poorly, the bad endings are worth pursuing. They can be gruesome, tragic, and accompanied by some detailed artwork. But even better is that they often fill in gaps in the story, you might not otherwise know about. So even though you "lose", you "win". That is one of the aspects that gives Corpse Party a reason to replay and explore.

As far as the actual horror aspect, it definitely delivers in the same way that I like J-horror films. Despite the simple visuals, it's able to convey a sense of creepiness through little details in the backdrops, CG cut scenes, and writing style. Retaining the original Japanese voice-work definitely helps a lot in that regard. Corpse Party is exactly what I would hoped a horror adventure game would be, but the addition of multiple endings per chapter elevates it beyond expectation.

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