Originally released as ‘Corpse Party: Blood Covered’ in Japan all the way back in 2008, ‘Corpse Party’ is a remake of the original game, as in the one released in 1996. Yeah, this series is old. The premise of this game is that a bunch of high schoolers perform a ‘ritual’, but it’s not known to them that it’s what they’re doing. It starts off in a classroom, normal as can be.
This is where a group of students are busy cleaning, after a bunch of festivities from the day prior. After a bunch of conversation, it comes up that Mayu is going to be moving the next day, leaving them all behind. Hearing this, Ayumi comes up with a plan to keep them together, even if just through a pact. This pact is called ‘Sachiko Ever After’. Upon completion of the ritual, everyone who participated is said to be together in spirit, for as long as they hold onto a piece of the paper doll.
However, upon completing the ritual, they encounter an earthquake, or so is thought. Through this, the ground breaks apart, and sends the group through. You start the game out as two of the characters - Seiko and Naomi. Your immediate surroundings are, well, terrible. Upon meeting up with your other, you find out that you’re in...Heavenly Host? As far as you know, this place has been torn down, so it’s an oddity that you’re there, but you’ll find out in the future how this has come to be. Now the meat of this game is in the exploration. The school that you’re in is in absolute disrepair, but that’s certainly not the worst of it all. It’s impossible to escape directly, due to all exits seemingly being completely sealed, without a way to move them open. Basically, you’re trapped.
You’ll find a lot of wrong in short time, whilst exploring this building. Be it disturbing visuals, such as a bucket filled with a pungent, yellow liquid, or human remains. This can range pretty severely too. You’ll find something that seems pretty fresh, or you’ll find old, bleached bones laying around. And along with these, you can often find a note or a spirit lingering around, detailing the gruesome events that led to these remains. And this is probably the best time to detail just how ‘appalling’ this game is. If you haven’t caught on by this point, it should be noted that this game is definitely mature, and not for the faint of heart in the slightest. Between graphic descriptions of anything and everything disgusting, painful, or downright horrible to imagine, and terrifying situations where you have to make fast decisions, there’s a lot that could be hard to handle if you’re not prepared for it.
Now for the visual design, it’s amazing, would be the best way to describe it. The bulk of the game is based on pixel art, and it helps to show a lot of what’s going on around you, and matched with the descriptive narration, you can easily flesh out the scenes you encounter throughout the game. The one gripe I have with it is how bad the actually drawn character portraits look. Now, there is a reason for it, because this is pretty much just a re-release of the original ‘Blood Covered’ as started prior, but with some new enhancements. That being said, I wish that one of the enhancements would have been to add or create in better portraits, to be on par with the art in ‘Book of Shadows’ or ‘Blood Drive’. But this is a minor gripe, and they at least do their job, and show you the characters properly, in a way that mimics the sprites well.
The music in this game is one of my favorite parts about it. In all the ‘Corpse Party’ games, the soundtracks are amazing, and in fact, in the special edition of ‘Blood Drive’, there was an included soundtrack that had all the music from these 3 games. It’s easily a regular listen for me, since I’ve transferred the music onto my MP3 player, and it’s just perfect for the series. In the scenes of serenity, the music fits just amazingly, matching the tone and providing a good contrast to the rest of the music in the game. The rest of the music, is creepy. It has an interesting take to it, though, it’s not just desolate, dreary music, it’s actually quite energetic in parts, such as in much of the general exploration. It provides a wildly different tune than most horror titles, but it’s still creepy. Filled with chimes, pads, orchestra, guitars, drums, you name it. There’s a wide amount of instrumentation used throughout, yet it all fits together, and all provides a unique experience to the situation. I will say that this title has a lower amount of overall unique musical pieces, however they are all amazing in their own right, at the top of the bar. And if you stick to the title screen for a bit, you’ll never forget the haunting tune that plays for you.
The gameplay is interesting, because it’s a top down RPG in style, but wholly different in practice. It touts exploration and puzzle solving, because there’s a lot of thinking involved in trying to complete the game, which adds to the immersion, trying to solve it as if you were in the situation. There are a multitude of endings, and each chapter only has one true ending, with more ‘Wrong Endings’ strewn throughout. These wrong endings portray gruesome deaths, and are paramount to properly enjoying the game. You will be able to come across other forms of demise throughout playing the game the ‘right’ way, but you will not get the full experience. This is something that’s been with the series throughout, and I remember spending an awfully large amount of time earning all of them in ‘Book of Shadows’, and being content when they were all uncovered. It really gives depth to the world, and shows how much can go wrong in Heavenly Host, if you don’t take heed of the environment.
Overall, this game is amazing. I’ve only played this one after playing through all of ‘Book of Shadows’ and a large portion of ‘Blood Drive’, and was familiar with the story through other forms of media. That being said, it still surprised me with it’s astounding level of detail, and all the love you can feel put into it. The graphic descriptions of absolutely horrific events never ceases to amaze me, and it really felt unique, even after playing through the other titles in this series. I would heavily recommend this to both people who enjoy horror, and those who have played the other two games in the series. Due to this being the first proper release of the original game for us, it’s likely that fans of the other games haven’t had a chance to enjoy the original story properly, to see where it all started. And if you haven’t played the other games, you can still certainly enjoy playing this one if you have the stomach for it. A great start to a great series, and if you play this one and enjoy it, I would strongly recommend divulging into the rest of the ‘Corpse Party’ series, you won’t regret it.
Marvelous USA, Inc.
Article by Chris H.