Developers: Team GrisGris
Publishers: Team GrisGris
Plot: As Satoshi desperately tries to find his little sister and Naomi, Ayumi finds herself getting dangerously closer to the spirit world.
Before diving into the horror, Chapter Four opens with the weirdest scene I have ever played in a video game. It is a brief flashback to Seiko, obviously acknowledging that she is one of the most loved characters in the game, after her infamous drooling scene in Chapter One. However, it is the most unintentional funny and creepy moment in gaming history, as Seiko bathes with her little brother and almost crosses into the territory of an incestual sexual predator. It is terrifying for all the wrong reasons and another reason Westerners like myself are occasionally unable to venture too far into the world of anime.
However, as soon as that nasty little incident is over, we are back on track. A few moments into the story sees Satoshi reunite with Naomi, mentally torn apart by the spirits swarming over her, now that she is alone in her certain dimension. Satoshi is stuck between finding his sister, still trapped with a psychotic stranger, and making sure that Naomi doesn’t get pushed too far into insanity to recover. In a strange turn of events, this chapter isn’t entirely focused on them and we jump to Ayumi’s side of the story. This chapter, obviously feeling the need to progress the story rather than just treat us to the usual skin-crawling nature of the game, jumps to and from the two sets of characters, splitting the game into two sections. At times, this is distracting, especially when the game breaks us away from a certain storyline, just as a major development is dropped, but at the same time, the pacing does flow a little better and the chapter does feel longer, but in a good way. Ayumi, while being the most annoying character to spend time with, has the stronger side of the story, as she tackles the crux of what is going on with this haunted school. It’s not that Satoshi’s story is meaningless; it just focuses more on character and when you haven’t spent the last four instalments trapped in the same space, it just feels refreshing to actually be racing towards the answers.
Maybe it is just that I am getting a little fed up with Corpse Party. I liked it at one point, but as I booted up Chapter Four, it just felt a little routine. I was once again, in the same place, heading out on fetch quest after fetch quest. The exposition is always a little too heavy-handed and you are often more aware of the facts than certain characters. Some of the little horror tropes feel over-done by this point too. The creepy doll begins whispering instructions to you, followed by the stereotypical eerie laugh. However, on the PSP, it just does not work, accidentally getting a few laughs out of the player. This is the problem when a game tries to constantly keep you on edge. The tension has to break at some point, and it is usually by finding comedy in the darkest of places. When a scare does not work, like a headless girl coming after you, sometimes it gets the wrong effect. Corpse Party is once again a case of walking around a map, progressing a story that doesn’t seem in any rush to progress, only occasionally being broken up by an action sequence. A race against time in the swimming pool is quite exciting, especially when the game tricks you into panicking and making the wrong move. Don’t worry, you get to restart, but in one horrible moment, you think you have accidentally permanently killed off a major character in the most gruesome of ways.
Just when I had had enough, the ending third of the chapter throws me right back into the horror. I thought I had seen it all, but Corpse Party manages to rack the creepy factor up another notch. Ayumi ends up being transported into the mind-frame of one of the tortured girls and we end up seeing the murderer butcher the children. It is a psychologically disturbing moment and if someone was to agree that the game goes too far down the distressing road, then I would not argue. Blind-folded Ayumi listens to the dying breaths of the children, as they are mutilated. It is a horrifying moment and will keep you awake at night, as the rasps echo around your mind. Japanese remakes in America might come across as diluted, but only the hardcore anime fans will be able to stomach this scene. However, it comes hand in hand with a game-changing twist that peaked up interest in events once again. The twist is immediately followed by a cliff-hanger than promises the finale of a lifetime. It would have been the perfect ending, if it wasn’t for a tonally awkward piece of music. There’s still a kick to this game yet, but the developers haven’t quite ironed out pacing.
Final Verdict: Corpse Party is only for the strong of stomach, boasting some horrifying moments. The gameplay is still flawed, but the story keeps you invested.