Corpse Party, originally released in the mid-90′s, acts as a prequel of sorts to Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. Whilst you’ll understand the events here more clearly with it’s predecessor in tow, it’s a minor detail which masks the real gruesome discovery; this interactive novel’s genuinely chilling horror story fails to balance out the sum of it’s gaming parts.
This is a literary novel akin to the pure text and wireframe adventures from decades past as opposed to Virtue’s Last Reward. It’s progression of levels and narrative described by static, hand-painted screens, chilling use of audio and accompanying text.
The story centres on the Heavenly Host Elementary School, an old building bearing witness to numerous harrowing killings decades before Kisaragi Academy is built over the ruins. The premise is a well worn one in many a horror film; a group of teenage school friends delve into the occult and through a ritual, transport themselves into another dimension of Heavenly Host’s murderous past; separated, vulnerable and cliche-centric.
Team Gris Gris deserve credit where it’s due; in story terms, the backdrop is interesting and gruesome in equal measure to ensure you see the ending through. Whilst there are only 7 chapters, each provides a new protagonist to control, with regular switches to other characters maintaining a level of fresh perspective. As you attempt to see each through to a safe end, the malevolent ghosts and spirits who roam the dark and disturbing world are genuinely chilling and gruesome to invoke an occasional sense of dread. Moreover, excellent voice work from the cast and generally chilling audio – the sound of dismembered limbs and screaming children accentuated through headphones – create a foreboding atmosphere to balance out the disappointing presentation and level of player interaction.
Nonetheless, the suspension of disbelief is regrettably punctuated by a number of flaws which sully the experience; chief amongst them are repeatedly moving forwards and backwards to trigger new events, ploughing through highly repetitive dialogue and lack of player interaction. The X button is used to skip through text and, with a rare cursor visible on certain screens, looking for keys and other items to progress through the story. It should be noted that whilst on the whole the writing is good, it can irritate on occasion with excessive teen-centric language or repetitive dialogue amongst characters taking an eternity to cite basic sentences. Moreover, little of the title’s dynamics are explained; you have a darkening meter which upon filling up to 100% triggers events, yet it’s criteria is often haphazard, a feeling compounded by the aimless wandering one must endure, in tandem with slow loading screens. There’s also moments of frustration where items seemingly unobtainable at a particular moment in time prove nothing other than red herrings. Additionally, the save anytime feature, which whilst ensuring large portions are never repeated, also nullifies the sense of challenge and reinforces the fact this is a literary adventure, with the occasional decision resulting in progression or a grisly end.
Viewed through the confines of an interactive horror novel, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows is a chilling, entertaining yet frustrating title. As a game, however, the title suffers immeasurably due to a lack of player interaction or any real sense of challenge.
- Chilling atmosphere with good use of audio
- Strong voice casting
- An interesting storyline
- Lack of game interaction
- Dialogue is regularly annoying
- No sense of challenge
GAME NAME: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
DEVELOPER(S): Team Gris Gris
PUBLISHER(S): XSeed Games
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): September 1st 2011 (JP), January 15th 2013 (NA), January 23rd 2013 (EU)