Corpse Party: Blood Covered Review
Warning: This review contains graphic content from a game rated M for Mature. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
Horror is a complicated thing to define, especially in video games. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a game that scares everyone. The only thing that's certain about the horror genre is nothing is scarier than the unknown. No matter who you ask, there is something decidedly unnerving about not knowing the ultimate fate of a victim. Corpse Party: Blood Covered has so many unknowns that I’m not sure if it’s being subtle, or it just ran out of scary little girls to shove in my face.
A Reimagining...of a Remake.
Corpse Party: Blood Covered is the PSP port of the reimagining of the original 1996 classic, and it certainly changes a fair amount of items from the original game. There was an older remake of the original game that kept the original story and only updated the graphics, which is available for free download. But after playing the remake and the reimagining back-to-back, it does make one wonder why the developers decided to reimagine the game the way they did.
The old (from the remake) is on the left, and the new (from the reimaginging) is on the right. The newer one looks cuter, which means it'll be harder when he dies horribly right?
I won’t discuss it here though, that’s an article for another day. The game has gained quite a cult following in the past several years, and it’s not hard to see why - it’s a trip into Japanese horror, which is a genre that many horror movie buffs enjoy on occasion. Myself included. Corpse Party: Blood Covered isn’t a bad iteration of this genre, but it’s somewhat paint-by-numbers. Allow me to explain in more detail before you sharpen your pitchforks.
The Good, the Bad, and the Wrong (Endings).
Corpse Party: Blood Covered has very simple gameplay, walk around, find a thing, solve a puzzle and try not to get the bad ending. There are various small factors in this that determine whether or not you will get the good ending or the bad ending. There are also the wrong endings, but those let you restart from where you left off on the save point.
Oh come on, she just wants to give your eyes a hug.
If you want to complete the game with the best ending, follow a walkthrough, because there are some things you might not think about the first time around, causing you to get the bad end. Even with the so-called good endings, this is still a horror game - so you do get to see some grotesque images in beautifully animated CGI. You also get to listen to good music that really sets up the atmosphere of the game. If you are sensitive to gore, I would not recommend you play this under any circumstances. This game does not hold back. Which is an issue I will get into later.
Oh this looks safe. Nobody sees anything wrong with pulling a little person apart while chanting? No just me? Okay then.
The plot of this new iteration of Corpse Party is as follows: A group of friends at Kisaragi Academy, their teacher, and the little sister of the main character (Satoshi Mochida) all unknowingly take part in an evil ritual. The ritual is supposed to be a charm that allows them to stay connected forever to a friend that’s transferring to another school. The ritual starts off by ripping a paper doll that looks like a person, and chanting once for everyone that was there. As soon they finish the ritual however, the ground opens up and they all fall into a hellish dimension, taking the form of Heavenly Host Elementary School, a school with a blood-spattered history. The group is separated in various pocket dimensions where they can’t reunite right away, giving the player a chance to play each individual story arc.
Meet Kokuhaku Akaboji, one of the oddest ghosts you see in the game. You know next to nothing about her, but the game makes you want to find out.
While the main plot is the group attempting to escape this dark and horrible place, the other aspects of it are probably the most fascinating. You go around the school finding nametags of the various characters and through their vague notes, you get to figure out who they were and how they died. There are also Extras at the end of each chapter that allow you to spend time with these characters before their untimely demise. Despite knowing how they died, you want to know more about them and how they lived long before these events occurred. These aspects of the story are rather flawless, and if the main plot had been executed in this way, there would have been fewer problems with the overarching narrative.
This poor kid. (If you know the game, you'll know what I'm talking about.) The three kid's ghosts stories were the hardest to listen to.
More gore isn't always better.
The issue with this story is that it's too predictable and what makes it worse is that it has too many unwarranted "shock-value" horror moments. For example, one of the deaths which seems to indicate that “this place is evil”, also appeals to the gore crowd due to the disgusting nature of the death. While gory deaths are not a bad thing - this is horror after all - the reasoning behind this one was a little…odd. The way they try to rationalize why certain things happened the way they did also spanned way too far away from suspension of disbelief for my own tastes.
The way they wrote it made it seem like the character only died horribly in order to meet some kind of gory murder quota. It’s like they tried present this death to the world with a bodily-fluid-smeared smile on their faces saying “YOU SEE LOOK AT THAT ISN’T IT HORRIBLE! LOVE ME!” At times the gore seemed just like they wanted attention for how graphic the game was rather than the quality of the game itself.
The only subtlety this game has is in this small bag.
There is also a tounge is in this bag, just thought I'd let you know.
That was another thing this game did - it took things around eighty-four steps further than they should have been taken, for no perceptible reason other than to be horrific. There were parts of the story that could have been left up to the imagination, multiple parts in fact. To be honest, Corpse Party: Blood Covered is about as subtle as a bull in a china shop. The excessive gore just doesn’t work well, and it’s a shame - the game would have been a lot scarier if they had just pulled back a little and left more to the imagination.
Gore can be a take-it-or-leave-it thing in horror games, you can either love it or you hate it. But even if you love the gore, there is one thing that is still mind-numbingly gratuitous - the amount of panty shots. This is a horror game about high school kids right? Not a bunch of twenty-somethings playing teenagers? Right? Okay, then why are we treated to constant panty shots of dead girls? Do we really need to see what color of a girl's panties when her skull is caved in? Or how about the heavy implication that a character is masturbating over the dead corpse of someone that has been splattered against a wall? I get it’s to imply that the characters are disturbed, but it comes off as a pissing contest between Corpse Party and it's big siblings, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame. Corpse Party is letting it all hang out, and it's screaming:
“LOOK AT ME IM MORE SHOCKING THAN YOU! SEE? LOOK AT HOW DISTURBING I AM!”
Just because you can show things like that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. I enjoy moments that shock me, but these shocked me for the wrong reason. No game should ever make me roll my eyes and yell “OH COME ON!” when I see the next corpse panty shot. I know this game has some restraint - I’ve seen it in some cut scenes. It was so close to being great, what happened?!
Clearly splitting up is going well. Don't worry, I didn't spoil a death scene
We should split up. Again.
Another bothersome thing about the story is the amount of times the characters split up. The first instance is understandable. It makes sense with the teacher trying to be the adult, it makes sense when a character is going insane, and even with some of the puzzles, splitting up makes sense. However, when you’d think that after you first friend nearly died while alone in a cursed place, you’d learn not to go off on your own again.
When it came to a character going to the bathroom in the middle of the woods around this Satan school, I found myself screaming at the screen for another character to go with them! Why?! Why would you ever leave anyone alone in a place where murder ghosts wander free, killing everyone in sight?! That’s like wondering why you were chased by lions after walking through their pride covered in ground beef and goat entrails. They do mention that the evil dimension affects the way you think, making you lose hope and eventually give in to the darkness or evil inside you. But even that doesn’t explain away the very huge lapses in the judgement of characters who are still apparently cognizant enough to create large, elaborate plans for exorcising demons.
Even with the ridiculously stupid moments these characters have, they are relatively interesting. Some characters didn't getting nearly as much development as others, and (no surprise here) those are the ones that tend to die. The story sort of runs the gambit of typical character archytpes, making it relatively easy to guess when a character is going to die.
That said, they do give time to the character that died first, allowing you to actually feel bad that they died that way. The other characters get flashbacks, but you get far more of an insight into this first character than you do the others, leaving some room for thoughts about that character and those they left behind. This particular character was probably the one dead character that was developed beyond an archytpe, while the others were not.
The characters do develop, but at times they just feel like they are walking in place, not really progressing in the time they have. They develop just enough to not be flat, but some don’t develop enough to be really called main protagonists. Yuka, the little sister, is the worst offender. Yuka sours a good cast with her infantilized appearance and horrible screeches. She's mainly used for cheap manipulation of the audience.
Why. Just why?
There are girls like Celementine, and then there's Yuka.
Little girls or younger girls can work as solid playable characters. Just look at Clementine and Ellie. But Yuka just isn’t a good character at all. Yuka is the biggest emotional manipulation I have ever seen a game pull off, and that’s saying something because I’ve played a lot of games where you have to save the helpless girl. Yuka is basically there to act all cute and helpless so you will want to defend her.
You could potentially say the same thing about Celementine in Walking Dead Season 1, but Clementine (unlike Yuka) actually grew as a character, learned things, endeared herself to you through her personality, and became an individual character strong enough to hold up her own game. Clementine is 11 years old when the first game starts out; Yuka is 14, but with the mind of someone far younger and potentially stupider. The only development Yuka gets is that she becomes slightly more independent, since she ends up getting separated during the aforementioned bathroom incident. But even then, she won’t stop acting like an infant.
Yuka, we are in a place full of corpses, blood, guts, killer ghosts. What do you mean "What is it?" How can you not know what it is?
Your entire reason for protecting her is that she’s Satoshi’s sister. Well, that and her "adorable little girl" persona. That's it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to protect young girls from harm, but at least develop the character beyond this sickening little pile of cute with a big brother obsession. It’s not only irritating, but it’s creepy to the umpteenth degree.
All in all, it should have been better.
I can see why Corpse Party: Blood Covered has the following it does. It has a thoroughly graphic story that does take some unexpected twists and turns, complete with an interesting core cast. However, Corpse Party: Blood Covered has a lot of problems in its narrative, and leaves a lot of room for improvement. I wouldn’t recommend for anyone who isn’t dying to play it.
If you are curious to see what all the fuss is about, watch a Let’s Play about it to see if you’ll like it before you play it. While not a bad game, it certainly doesn’t thrill as much as promised, which is a shame, considering how amazing the original version was. This game should have been an amazing experience, but instead was a little girl screaming for big brother while her friends' body parts fly all over the place. A true disappointment.